Bonsai in Asia Guide Book


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About Penjing in China

Chinese potted landscapes, similar to the Japanese Bonsai, have been famous for centuries and often described as "soundless poetry" or "living sculpture". In a pot no larger than a wash basin, the ingenious craftsmen create a miniature reproduction of a natural scene using stunted trees and plants, rocks and sometimes water. It is difficult to determine when the Chinese first started to grow Penjing grown because in the beginning they were only a folk art. A mural in the tomb of Crown Prince Li Xian of the early Tang Dynasty shows that they had already won royal favour by then. Great Tang and Song poets like Wang Wei, Han Yu, Bai Juyi, Su Dongpo and Lu You all mentioned them. Monographs describing the miniaturizing of trees and the art of miniature rockeries began to appear in the Song Dynasty and reached their peak in the Ming and Qing dynasties. Potted landscapes require painstaking efforts to create, taking dozens to hundreds of years. Craftsmen devote all their lives to their art works only to have later generations enjoy them to the fullest.

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