History of Bonsai trees

PHYLLIS LOGIE By PHYLLIS LOGIE, 3rd Mar 2011 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/5_9_tk7x/
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Gardening>Houseplants

Bonsai is the ancient Japanese art of growing, sculpting miniature trees in ceramic pots, but how did it first begin.

Bonsai trees are normal sized trees miniaturised and grown in pots

Bonsai is the ancient art of growing and sculpting miniature trees in ceramic pots. The artistic practice originated in China where it is called Penjing (meaning ‘potted scenery’ or ‘plant in a pot’), although it is most commonly associated with Japanese culture, it is believed that it was first introduced to Japan by Zen Buddhists during the Kamakura period around 1185.

Exactly when the practice began in China seems generally to be a mystery to many historians. However, it is believed it have been a well established art form around 706AD, because of the drawing of a servant holding a circular pot in his hand with flowering trees growing from it as depicted on the tomb of a Chinese prince, provoking the presumption for it to be of sufficient importance to Chinese culture, to appear on the tomb of a high nobleman, it must have been well enshrined in the culture of the Chinese people long before 706AD.

In the Japanese psych, the bonsai tree has come to be a symbol of prestige and honour, representing the merging of ancient beliefs and Eastern philosophy, a symbol of harmony between man and nature.

The practice of bonsai is the miniaturising of regular trees, which if left to grow un-tampered, would develop into normal sized trees. It is a highly skilled occupation requiring great patience, skill and artistry.

Over the centuries the art of bonsai sculpting has evolved and tree sizes range from a few inches to 6ft high have been cultivated. Many of the trees have been fashioned to resemble wind-swept mountain scapes, animal figures, or expressions of artistic concepts. There are numerous myths and legends associated with bonsai trees and it seems the more grotesque and animalistic in appearance, the more highly prized the tree becomes.

Originally reserved for the outdoors, however because of its aesthetic beauty, it gain popularity as an indoor plant, often placed on shelves erected for the sole purpose of displaying them as beautiful objects of art and by the 14th century it came to be regarded as fine art. By the mid-nineteenth century, when Japan began to open its doors to the outside world, the concept of miniature plants grown in ceramic pots provoked a great deal of attention, especially in Europe which gave rise to well attended exhibitions in Vienna and Paris in 1900.

Any tree which develops a barked trunk can be bonsied; however the tree most commonly used are the Maple and Azalea. Although, most favoured is the pine variety for its aged appearance and the symbolic perception of longevity. The bonsai trees are classified according to their size, and the number of trunks growing from a single root.

SIZE CLASSIFICATION: 6 inches, miniature - 6 to 12 inches, small - 3 to 24 inches, medium - 24 inches and over – large

SHAPE CLASSIFICATION: Formal - Upright - Informal upright - Slanting - Severe cascading - Cascading.

The cultivation of bonsai is constantly evolving and growing with modern innovations making it possible for artists and growers to develop an industry sufficiently adequate to satisfy the internationally growing demands for bonsai ornamental trees. They are simply landscapes of imagination, once reserved for the upper classes; however, today it is enjoyed world wide by both the rich and those of more modest means.


Bonsai, Gardening, Growing, Planting, Pruning, Sculpture, Trees

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author avatar PHYLLIS LOGIE
I am a retired female who has been writing for the past five years. My favorite topics are history and biographies.

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author avatar Denise O
4th Mar 2011 (#)

Very interesting read. I have always been fascinated by this art form. I remember my mama taking me to this lady's house while we were living in Japan and I was in awe of her bonsai tree. A picture would put this article over the top. Nice read.
Thank you for sharing.:)

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author avatar c4collins
8th Mar 2011 (#)

The Bonsai tree is definitely a distinct art form, but the history and general reasons for growing these little beauties is worthwhile...great share!!

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