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Bonsai Trees - Small Wonders

Aug 17, 2007
Bonsai, as everybody knows, is an Eastern practice of miniaturizing trees and plants in a container. A Japanese word, the term 'bonsai' means tray gardening. Research has it, that 'bonsai' has its predecessor in the Chinese 'penjing'. The Korean craft of 'bunjae', also shares a remarkable likeliness.

Ancient China is said to be the birth place of this miniaturization activity. Like martial arts, the origin of this miniaturizing trait, too had a need that had to be met. The martial arts evolved as a necessary instrument of self-defense, required for the monks on their long and hazardous missions of propagating peace. Similarly, it is said, that this art came into being as it was seen as the best way to transport medicinal plants over a long distance.

The Chinese Tang dynasty is supposed to have encouraged this activity. In fact, it is also seen that cultural emissaries from this period had visited Japan and introduced this wonderful art.

The Chinese 'penjing' is highly influenced by the tenets of Taoism. The Chinese thought of the bifurcation of the world energy into two different forces, the yin and the yang forms the aesthetic ideal of the 'penjing' artist. In China, the creative value of 'penjing' is the same as that of calligraphy, poetry, garden art and brush painting.
The Japanese 'bonsai', naturally, has evolved with a slightly different perspective. The Japanese see the 'bonsai' as the manifestation of 'heaven and earth in one container'. Shin-zen-bi or truth, essence and beauty are the three things that form a Japanese bonsai.

Pine, maple, elm, flowering apricot, Japanese wisteria, juniper, flowering cherry, azalea and larch are common Japanese subjects for bonsai-making. The Japanese school lays special emphasis on being natural. The trees have to be life-like without betraying the sign of human effort that had gone behind its making.

Over the years, a lot of style has developed as far as the art of bonsai-making is concerned. However, formal upright, informal upright, cascade, semi-cascade, raft, literati, and group-forest are the most common styles.

The formal upright version comprises a tapering trunk and layered branches. The informal upright style has the tree positioned just the way as it is done in a formal upright style. However, it is dubbed as 'informal' as it allows for an occasional bend or a curve.

Waterside trees or those that are found on mountains are stylized in the cascade and the semi-cascade style. Cascades fall below the base of the container whereas semi-cascades lean over the rim.

Raft-style bonsai are well-known for mimicking the natural phenomenon. Raft bonsai, specializes in keeping the original root-system intact and in touch with the soil. The Literati style is characterized by a small number of branches placed higher up on a long, contorted trunk. Technically speaking, the literati style is a complicated style to follow.

A group or forest bonsai is a number of trees, placed together in a container.
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Jason Uvios writes about on Bonsai Trees - Small Wonders to visit :- , bonsai and tree
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