The penjing artist’s goal is not only to re-create a natural scenery in a container, but to capture its essence and spirit.

Penjing and bonsai are closely related art forms. Penjing is the older form from which bonsai derived. While the similarities by far outweigh the differences, there is a significant variance in scope: “Bonsai” literally means a “tree in a pot” and therefore as an art form, bonsai is more narrowly defined than penjing, a “landscape in a pot”.

The roots of bonsai plants often rise in sculptural shapes above the stones.

Some penjing has been trained, or molded, into the shape of a dragon, with one of its larger branches looking like a head and
another, a tail. Eventually, the art of penjing migrated from China through Korea to Japan. The Japanese term “bonsai”
refers both to the plant and to the pot or tray in which it sits.

The two must complement each other to create visual harmony.

Bonsai come in all sizes: miniature (six inches tall or less), small (six to 12 inches), medium (12 to 24 inches), and large (24 to
48 inches).

It’s certainly not easy to create a miniaturized tree, and it can be daunting countless days, months, and years can be spent learning techniques for creating and maintaining bonsai and penjing. With practice, you can shape a tree by removing a branch, allowing one to develop in a desirable location, or allowing the trunk to grow more.

Balcony view of one of the four rooms at the National Bonsai Exhibition held in the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum. This room has large size bonsai while the room on the upper left has medium size bonsai.

Repotting lets you place the trunk where you’d like in the pot, wiring lets you alter the position of the branches, and pruning keeps the branches short. Creating a bonsai from seed can be tricky.

So one popular way is to start by choosing a nursery tree, shrub, or even a vine, then potting and beginning to style your bonsai—a step called “pre-bonsai” or “bonsai in training.” This process of training a plant in a pot takes several years. With proper care and the appropriate techniques, one day it may earn the title of “masterpiece.”

While training a plant, one may need to replace the original pot as the tree gets bigger,and special attention needs to be given to
drainage and soil mixes so that the tree remains healthy.

Once fully formed, a bonsai will have a thick trunk, a shape like the normal-sized tree, branches of the right size and in the right place, leaves that are as small as they can get, and a pot perfectly matched to the style and color of the tree.

This maintenance process requires years of trimming and restyling, but it’s very satisfying to the owners and gives a deep sense of artistic pleasure.

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1 commenti :

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