“Where are my… watermelons?” Photo: Proteon/Reddit
Summer’s favorite fruit just got a major upgrade. A photo of a watermelon went viral on Reddit last night, but it wasn’t in its recognizable round shape – it was carved into a dragonhead, and very realistically so.
This isn’t the type of stenciled jack-o-lantern carving you attempt to do with your kids (although there are some very intense pumpkin carvers out there); this is an intricate work of that involves extreme precision and an advanced set of knives.
So what’s the story behind this crazy carving? The picture was submitted late Sunday night by a user named Proteon, where it racked up over 300 comments in a few hours, but it originally comes from a YouTube video released about a year ago. The time-lapse video is by an Italian artist named Valeriano Fatica, who specializes vegetable carving tutorials. In this one, called “Best Watermelon Carving,” he peels the fruit into the shape of a dragon’s head, carves out the eyes, and then etches out the scales. It sounds a lot easier than it looks.
Fatica’s medium includes watermelon, pumpkin, potato, and even a lemon (for a tiny mouse sculpture, of course). His finished work is often eerie but detailed, and nonetheless mesmerizing. There’s a grimacing bust of the Joker made out of pumpkin, an accurate depiction of a Game of Thrones white walker from the same vegetable, the cast of Dragon Ball Z carved from potatoes, and a Planet of the Apes-worthy gorilla chiseled from watermelon. His most-viewed video is a sequel to the original dragon carving, but this one looks much more like an angry T-Rex, bearing sharp watermelon-rind teeth.
This isn’t the first time watermelon carving has stunned the Internet. (Buzzfeed has already gathered a compilation.) In fact, the art takes root in ancient Asian traditions, though it is disputed whether it first began in Thailand, Japan, or China first. Its Thai origins date from the 13th century when fruits were made more presentable for the royal court; later on it was used on produce being presented to elders. The Japanese version, called “Mukimono” is widely known as a leaf-like garnish technique that has its first records in the 16th century. The Chinese history, however, seems to date as early as the Tang Dynasty’s return to the throne in the early 700s. To give thanks, the people carved animals and religious symbols on their fruit and vegetable offerings.
Today, you might find these works as decorative ornaments in Asian restaurants. Or you could try copying one of Fatica’s videos — if you can keep up.
Carving not your forte? Here’s what else you can make with watermelon: