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Bonsai: “Heaven and Earth in one container.”

Bonsai – “tree in a tray” – is the art of miniaturizing trees or semi-woody plants shaped as trees, grown in small containers. The art form originated 2,500 years ago in China, making its way to Japan, where Buddhist monks refined it to bring the “outdoors” into their temples and monasteries. Eventually it became a symbol of prestige and honor reserved for the Japanese aristocracy.  In modern day Japan, the art of bonsai has become “classless” and is shared by company executives and factory workers alike. Bonsai for the Japanese represents a fusion of strong ancient beliefs with the Eastern philosophy of harmony between man, soul and nature.

Bonsai is referred as “heaven and earth in one container” because it is a separate entity, complete by itself: roots in the soil of a container, independent of the earth, but still a living part of nature. In its container, a bonsai should always be positioned off-center for two reasons: asymmetry is vital for visual effect, and the center point is symbolically where heaven and earth meet, and nothing should occupy that place. Another aesthetic principle is the triangular pattern necessary for visual balance and for expressions of the relationship shared by a universal principle: (life-giving energy or deity) the artist and the tree itself. Tradition holds that three basic virtues are necessary to create a bonsai: shin-zen-bi standing for truth, goodness and beauty.  http://bonsaisite.com/intro1.html

Bonsai trees are grown from natural tree seeds. Their height can range  from 2 in. to 3.33 ft. Bonsai trees are kept small and trained by pruning  branches and roots, repotting  periodically and pinching off new growth. Wires might be used on  branches to make them grow into specifically desired shape.

The essence of classical bonsai is to produce a healthy miniature representation of a tree. The art of bonsai tells a story through living illusion. A bonsai artist searches for ways to express his personal creativity by mixing form and though in a miniature world.  He needs to experiment with air, nutrients, soil, sun, temperature, and altitude. Major and crucial aspects of bonsai creations are patience and time. The growth process takes time,  there are no shortcuts. A bonsai designer will say that there is no replacement for time; it is always constant and moving forward.

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2 responses »

  1. “Heaven and Earth in one container”: beautiful! Bonsai have always fascinated me, maybe one day I will get started..

    Reply

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