Carving the pumpkin

Etruscan pumpkin for Halloween 2023.

As you may know each year I carve a pumpkin with designs from antiquity (see here for a recent article I did which includes a how-to guide). It gets difficult each year to find something which is both within my capabilities and will work. 

A curious Etruscan plate.

The design this year was taken from an Etruscan plate which dates to circa 520 BC and features a very interesting character in the centre.

Etruscan plate with wolf character
Photo by Egisto Sani

The scene orbiting the centre of the plate is suggested as Hercules pursuing the centaur Nessos. However, what the creature is inside the centre isn’t clear. One suggestion made to me was that it could be Calu, an Etruscan deity associated with the Underworld. The trap to fall into would be to consider it wholly within the context of a werewolf, or rather what we recognise as a werewolf.

Much of werewolf lore was created in early cinema, for example the full moon being a trigger (after all this helps create tension in the story as the camera invariably pans to a moon creeping out from behind some clouds). In some of the Night of the Livy Dead episodes I go into this more, including why the half man half wolf setup developed (I think that’s in the first one I recorded). In short it’s not as simple as retrospectively marking this figure out as a werewolf, tempting though it might be.

The Etruscan Pumpkin.

The Etruscan pumpkin.

It turned out ok, the detail of the fur on the plate image wasn’t something I appreciated until I was carving. It adds a flow to the creature as the lines move in different directions, in a sense allowing you to see how it is turning. Every time I do one of these I realise how clever and skilled the artists were.

Pumpkin reveal

Though you might like to see how it appeared when I switched the lights on (and off). 

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