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The traditional art of Thailand: Fruit and vegetable carving to mark ceremonies

A Thai royal tradition dating back to the 14th century, the art of fruit carving is still thriving in Thailand even as young people shy away from the unique art form.

travel Updated: Aug 07, 2017 10:25 IST
Thailand,Fruit carving,Art
The tradition of fruit carving has been traced back to Thailand’s royal Sukhothai dynasty, in the 14th century.(Courtesy: AFP)

From beetroots carved into roses to fruity floats made from papayas and melons, the most important fruit carving competition in Thailand took place in Bangkok recently. But for competitor Piyanat Thiwato, carving is about than just about winning. “Carving can improve our mind because it requires concentration and enhances our imagination. It’s a way to relax,” he said.

The tradition has been traced back to Thailand’s royal Sukhothai dynasty, in the 14th century. “The art of food carving started hundreds years ago. Thailand is rich in arts and crafts. It’s like a very beautiful treasure that we have,” said Araya Arunanondchai, the event’s organiser. “In the old days, it was done in the royal palaces for the royal family,” she added.

Dozens of Thai artists competed in the famous fruit and vegetable carving competition, which was organised in honour of Queen Sirikit, who turns 85 on August 12. More than 20 teams carved owls, elephants and intricate Thai designs onto fruits including taros, melons, and papaya.

Fruit carving is still popular as an offering in temples or as a decoration for weddings. Fine arts students can choose to learn it at university, as they would take painting lessons. But the tradition is fading away. “Not many young people are interested in it. The ones who studied it in art school cannot make a living out of it”, said Manirat Svastiwat na Ayutthaya, a food carving expert.

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First Published: Aug 07, 2017 10:24 IST