SINGAPORE : If you thought the “1960s Chinese traditional fruit basket” selling for C$68.45 (S$72) on Amazon did not look appropriate for the dinner table, you would be right.
The item on sale is in fact a chamber pot, or a spittoon, commonly used in Chinese households as a mobile toilet for people to defecate or spit into. And it is being sold on the US-based online shopping platform for more than 10 times its normal price in China.
Similar spittoons are selling on Chinese e-commerce platform Taobao for just 28 yuan (S$5.70).
The enamel product adorned with a pair of mandarin ducks and the Chinese words symbolising “double happiness” in red was advertised on Amazon as being a Chinese antique with a wide range of uses, from being a vegetable and fruit holder to an ice bucket, or a decorative display stand.
It was also recommended as a good gift for housewarmings and weddings, with photos showing it being used to store French loaves, as well as to hold a bottle of wine in ice, placed classily beside a champagne glass on a wooden table.
The listing described the item as an antique Chinese fruit basket with “beautiful colours and patterns” that represent “traditional Chinese culture” and “symbolise the happiness of life”. Its “large storage space can store any fruit”, it added.
The Amazon listing went viral after an Internet user posted it on Chinese social media marvelling at how the humble Chinese chamber pot was being so highly regarded by Westerners.
The hashtag “the other ways a spittoon is used” has received more than 50 million views and comments on Sina Weibo, the Global Times reported.
“US$60? I can’t believe my childhood potty is more valuable than I am,” one Internet user remarked.
“I hope no one from other countries ever buys this ‘basket’ and sends it as a gift to their Chinese friends because no Chinese people would feel happy if they see a delicately packed spittoon with fruits in it,” another said.
A third Internet user wrote: “It is actually interesting to see how things can be used differently in other cultures. As long as the buyers like it, it shouldn’t matter it is ‘originally’ used for.”
The listing has since been removed from Amazon.
THE STRAITS TIMES