The melon Michelangelos: Amazing sculptures carved from fruit
Last updated at 11:57 PM on 11th August 2010
With their green skins and a hint of red flesh, there is something familiar about these artworks.
A closer look reveals they are carved out of watermelons — and these photographs, capturing their intricate designs, are the latest sensation to sweep the internet.
The art form originated in the Far East 700 years ago when the carved fruit were often presented to royalty at banquets.
Sage: A godly figure in a fruit frame
Fishing for compliments: A sea scene
Mutant turtle: This reptile berries a juicy fruit salad beneath its shell
They used to take the form of legendary figures and flowers, but today anything goes, from waddling penguins to the Taj Mahal.
Many of these examples are the handiwork of hotel chef Takashi Itoh. Inspired by carvings he saw on holiday in Thailand in 2001, Itoh took three weeks to teach himself the skill — which usually takes years to perfect.
Using a tiny knife, he slices each portrait by hand. Simple designs can take as little as 20 minutes, while more detailed works require between 40 and 90 minutes to finish.
Blooming wonderful: Two delicate rose sculptures showcase Itoh's handiwork
You're twisting my melon, man: This red-fleshed fella appears riled
Taskashi, from Tokyo, admits that his is an unusual hobby.
'Watermelons are so colourful and as it is one of the bigger fruits I can make more powerful and interesting creations,’ he says. Each sculpture lasts two days, before the artist eats it.
The craft hasn’t yet caught on in Britain, but the first homegrown watermelons, from Staffordshire, are about to hit the shops.
Maybe this Halloween we’ll be carving ghoulish faces into watermelons instead of pumpkins.
Meloncholy: Tormented artist Vincent Van Gogh
Recycling: A green cyclist has pedal power
Fruit fantasy: Mythical spirits are a traditional subject
Feathered friend: The melon's oval shape lends itself to an owl figure, left, and right, oh so skilful, but what is it?
Skinned alive: An evil spirit with a grimace
Fruity frog: This amphibian gets ready to leap
Mouth watering: A jaw-dropping carving
Sydney scene: The famous Australian opera house
Holy moly! Even the Taj Mahal can be sculpted
Pick up a penguin: Waddling Antarctic birds
You're my honeydew: Two swans in love