The Thai fruit and vegetable carving industry in Thailand is a thriving business as competitions are held, events are planned that promote the carvings and provide lessons. This type of carving was originally only reserved for royalty in the time of King Rama 1. The ladies of the royal court were given lessons in this art to show off Thailand’s fruit and vegetable carving arts for visiting dignitaries and guests to the royal palace. As the fruits and vegetable came into season, these were used to do simple flowers such as magnolia and lotus flowers and boat shapes which symbolises prosperity. Some of the vegetables were dyed to suit the flowers, as this was between the 12th and 15th century. Later Kings and emperors carried on this tradition.
The few patterns used at the time were very simple. Flowers used had few petals, simple, yet beautiful as well as functional. Over the years, each generation of master craftsmen in this art developed more patterns, and a wider knowledge of their craft by experimenting with different vegetables and producing different patterns and tools.
Master craftsmen hoarded their secrets of how they worked, and would not share them with younger craftsmen, so Thailand set up classes in their schools. There is a University course on this indigenous art, and colleges and schools teach fruit and vegetable carving so as many students as possible learn this art which promotes Thailand’s food industry. Many hotels use this art, and offerings of fruit and vegetable carving is given at religious festivals. Many big events are especially arranged where classes are given for tourists and local people, to promote their cultural heritage which has been passed down through the centuries, from master craftsman to student.