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Bonsai as reflection of nature's beauty: Styles and aesthetic value

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The Art of Miniaturization is an Organic Architecture, thus a combination of art and science. The combination of elements of philosophy, painting, sculpting, architecture, design and gardening is what makes it a unique discipline. While working on living plants, the creator of this unique art is lead by the elementary rules of aesthetics, the skill of connecting various forms, board, colors and space. The Art of Miniature Landscapes is also dependant on the knowledge of nature: abilities to perceive the change of nature and the diversity of different forms met in nature. In the European art of Landscape Miniaturization two tendencies ar e met; the first relates to the traditional Japanese art, the second is a link of the traditional Japanese and European Organic Art.
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Bonsai as reflection of nature’s beauty: styles and aesthetic value
KATARZYNA PIETRASZKO
JERZY SOBOTA
The Faculty of Environmental Engineering and Geodesy
Wroclaw University of Environmental and Live Sciences
Plac Grunwaldzki 24; 50-363 Wroclaw
POLAND
e-mail: pietraszko@yahoo.co.uk
website: http://www.ar.wroc.pl/
Abstract: The Art of Miniaturization is an Organic Architecture, thus a combination of art and science.
The combination of elements of philosophy, painting, sculpting, architecture, design and gardening is
what makes it a unique discipline. While working on living plants, the creator of this unique art is lead
by the elementary rules of aesthetics, the skill of connecting various forms, board, colors and space.
The Art of Miniature Landscapes is also dependant on the knowledge of nature: abilities to perceive
the change of nature and the diversity of different forms met in nature.
In the European art of Landscape Miniaturization two tendencies are met; the first relates to the
traditional Japanese art, the second is a link of the traditional Japanese and European Organic Art.
Key Words: Bosai, Bonsai styles, Landscape Miniaturization, Far-eastern Art, design theory, aesthetic
value
1 Introduction
The introduction of the up-to-date
achievements in this area should begin by
introducing the most significant terms. The Art
of Landscape Miniaturization is a combination
of individual forms: Bonsai (tree in a pot),
Suiseki (art of rock exposition), Kusamono
(plant accenting). All three forms can function
individually, while simultaneously imposing
on some spheres. Despite the Art of Landscape
Miniaturization issue still not being fully
understandable, it is continuing to become
more significant, accounting the active
participation of artistic entourage in the
creation process of organic and conceptual art.
During the research, one concept of the Art of
Landscape Miniaturization was examined – the
Bonsai. The word “Bonsai” originates in the
Chinese language and consists of two parts;
“bon” – tray or vessel (container) and “sai”
meaning tree or plant [6] [5]. It describes
a miniaturized tree or a group of trees, which
reflects a certain landscape.
Conventionally, the far-eastern form of
shaping miniature Bonsai depends on the
image of a freely growing tree in nature. The
trunk(s) line process and the branch
arrangement have been classified in Japan and
divided into style of Bonsai [9] [14] [18][21].
The traditional style classification is described
by Naka J [15], Nakamura [16], Yoshimura
[22], Chan [4], Ardle [8], Kato [9].
The current European miniaturization art has a
tendency of forgetting about the classical far-
eastern rules of designing Bonsai forms. Eager
to create stronger and more dynamic forms, the
Europeans abandon the classic and sedate
forms of displaying the art of miniaturization
commonly used in the Land of Rising Sun.
The problem, which the Europeans encounter
while performing this discipline of art is the
lack of elementary rules of its shaping (no
literature sources) and what follows, the lack
of ideological consistency in the creation
process.
2 Case studies
During the research of Europeans forms of
Bonsai and its styles, literature sources were
analyzed and studies were made over the work
of art itself. The analysis of the work was made
on the workshop and exposition levels between
the years 2002-2006. In conclusion of the
research, the main European rules of designing
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Bonsai forms (styles) basing on Japanese
aesthetics were found.
3 Origin of Bonsai
The bonsai art takes its root in China, even
though it is commonly linked with Japan.
There during the Han dynasty which ruled
around 200 BC first landscape miniatures were
created by the name of pun-ching by arranging
few or several small trees embedded in a flat
tray [6][7].
Fig.1, Composition by Wlodzimierz Pietraszko
Such landscapes were diversified by hills,
rocks, water reservoirs and ceramic figures
which depicted pagodas, animals and people.
Pun-ching masters create these miniature
landscapes so highly appreciated in China up
until this day. Later during the Tsin dynasty
singular tree and shrub specimen planted
in pots were called pun-sai [4]. Back then the
Chinese were fascinated with the natural trees
growing in the mountains which thanks to
extreme weather conditions were shaped
in a unique and dramatic manner. Gardeners
tried to capture such tree picture in
a miniaturized way. A true breakthrough took
place in 1664 when a runaway official Chu
Shun-Sui arrived in Japan with his bonsai
collection and professional literature. It was
mainly for his knowledge and experience that
helped to make bonsai popular amongst the
nobility, high rank officials and samurais. The
Japanese as
a flexible and open nation swiftly adapted the
novelty being miniature trees. Simultaneously,
they set rules of ways to shape bonsai and
named particular styles which have been used
up until this day. A major bonsai boom in
Japan took place in Edo period (1603-1868)
under the Tokugawa rule. Until today there is
still a pine bonsai growing formed in first half
of XVII century by the third shogun of
Tokugawa family [8]. Probably it is the oldest
bonsai in Japan. The story of trees and
landscapes planted in ceramic pots had been
promoted in poems and paintings and sketches.
Tree miniature illustrations from Edo period
show their creator's profound gardening
experience and unique aesthetics feeling.
The Japanese while looking after their bonsai
patiently they have treated them as enchanted
in a miniature tree microcosms, as
in accordance with a saying of an ancient
philosopher Lao Tsy who claimed that one can
discover the world without leaving one's home
[9].
Fig.2, Composition by Wlodzimierz Pietraszko
Today bonsai is known all around the world.
Still it was not for China but for Japan that
showed bonsai to the western world. First
presentation took place on the international
exhibition in 1878 in Paris and the following in
1909 in London [9]. Everybody was amazed
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by the miniature trees but due to the lack of
professional literature this art did not stay
in Europe as the Japanese had not allowed
during that period any professional information
about bonsai to be published. Only during
Second World War did the American soldiers
start to bring miniature trees and the know-
how to the US and thanks to a pioneer book of
Jyuji Yoshimura "The Art of Bonsai –
Creation, Care and Enjoyment” published in
Great Brittan the informational barrier was
breached and the miniaturization art flooded
the whole Europe.
Fig.3, Composition by Wlodzimierz Pietraszko
4 Reflection of nature's Beauty
Bonsai is not only a tree in a pot. It is also a
reflection of strive to form and essence
perfection. This art is based on tree picture that
grows freely in nature. Bonsai differs from the
natural trees. The Japanese introduced
a division which helped to easily get ones
bearings within this form of art. The plants
have been divided based on genus, species,
size, origin, final composition place and style
represented by the trunk.
This last division depends on the tree trunk line
(or several trunks) and branch composition.
Hence one can say that style in bonsai stands
for form one gives to a tree to depict its natural
sort. It also depends mainly on the plant
material's characteristics. There are styles
which expose a single tree in a pot and
landscape forms – being an arranged tree
group in a pot.
Style names as well as the whole professional
language around bonsai comes from Japan
which helps avoiding long descriptive
definitions that are normally interpreted in
a different way by the professional literature
authors and the ones who plant the trees.
The usage of such original terms proves also
helpful within the international bonsai
communication.
Nowadays within the European modern art of
tree forming there is a trend to move away
from the classical style and go towards more
eclectic forms.
Most probable is due to a fact that Europeans
plan to crate more dynamic and stronger forms
as they drop the classical approach and static
way of showing nature so commonly used in
Japan. This peculiar mannerism is a transition
phase just like trends in architecture that come
and go.
Fig.4, Composition by Wlodzimierz Pietraszko
The table underneath presents a system of pot
for style formations created by Katarzyna
Pietraszko.
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Tab.1, The table underneath presents a system of classification of style formations created by John
Naka [15].
JAPANESE STYLES OF BONSAI
STYLE CHARACTERISTICS IDENTIFYING
STYLES
Bonju Bonsai tree
Tachi - gi Upright tree
- Chokkan Straight trunk
- Shakkan Slanded trunk
- - Shō - shakan Minimum slant
- - Chu - shakan Midway slant
- - Dai - shakan
Great or extreme slant
- Moyo - gi Informel upright
- Fukinagashi Windswept
- Bunjin Abstract and free style
- Bankan Granled trunk
- Nejikan Twisted trunk
- Sabakan Split or hollowed trunk
- Kobukan Knobby trunk
- Sharikan Peled bark trunk
Kengai Cascade
- Kengai
Ordinary or formal cascade
- Han - kengai Midway or semi - cascade
- Dai - kengai
Great or extreme almost vertical
- Gaitō - kengai Top of cliff or dome cascade
- Taki - kengai Waterfall cascade
- Ito - kengai
Trunk and branches cascading as mass of strings
- Takan - kengai
More than two trunks cascade
Sōkan Twin tree
Sōju Spruto style
Kōrabuki Multiple sprouts from a stump or ‘growing from a
shell of a turtle”
Netsuranari Multiple sprouts from a long surface root
Yama - yori Sprouts from a fallen cone
Ikadabuki Raft style
Yose - uye Group planting
Ishi - zuke Rock clinging style
Tako - zukuri Octopus style
Ne - agari Exposed up growing root style
Saikei Group planting using trees, rock, plants and moss
and created into a natural scene
Jukei Shapes or outline of bonsai
- Matsu - zukuri Very traditional pine tree shape
- Hōki - zukuri Broom shape
- Tama - zukuri Ball or egg shape
- Rōsoku - zukuri Candle flame shape
- Kasa - zukuri Umbrella shape
- Hōshō - zukuri Exaggerated from of Matsu – zukuri, often used
for background of “Noh” plays
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Tab.2, The table underneath presents a system of pot for style formations created by Katarzyna
Pietraszko.
POTS USED FOR EUROPEAN FAMOUS BONSAI STYLES
Pot form Style
Bunjin +
Chokkan +
Fukinagashi +
Hokidachi +
Ishi - zuke
Ikadabuki
Kengai
Kabudachi +
Netsuranari +
Moyogi +
Saikei +
Sōkan/Sōju
1
Shakkan +
Pot form Style
Bunjin
Chokkan +
Fukinagashi +
Hokidachi +
Ishi - zuke
Ikadabuki
Kengai +
Kabudachi +
Netsuranari
Moyogi +
Saikei
Sōkan/Sōju
2
Shakkan +
Pot form Style
Bunjin
Chokkan +
Fukinagashi +
Hokidachi +
Ishi - zuke
Ikadabuki
Kengai
Kabudachi +
Netsuranari +
Moyogi +
Saikei +
Sōkan/Sōju +
9
Shakkan
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Pot form Style
Bunjin
Chokkan
Fukinagashi
Hokidachi
Ishi - zuke
Ikadabuki
Kengai +
Kabudachi
Netsuranari
Moyogi
Saikei
Sōkan/Sōju
4
Shakkan
Pot form Style
Bunjin +
Chokkan +
Fukinagashi +
Hokidachi +
Ishi - zuke
Ikadabuki
Kengai +
Kabudachi +
Netsuranari
Moyogi +
Saikei
Sōkan/Sōju
5
Shakkan +
Pot form Style
Bunjin +
Chokkan
Fukinagashi +
Hokidachi +
Ishi - zuke
Ikadabuki
Kengai
Kabudachi +
Netsuranari +
Moyogi +
Saikei
Sōkan/Sōju +
6
Shakkan +
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Pot form Style
Bunjin +
Chokkan
Fukinagashi
Hokidachi +
Ishi - zuke
Ikadabuki
Kengai
Kabudachi
Netsuranari +
Moyogi
Saikei
Sōkan/Sōju
7
Shakkan +
Pot form Style
Bunjin
Chokkan +
Fukinagashi +
Hokidachi +
Ishi - zuke
Ikadabuki
Kengai +
Kabudachi +
Netsuranari
Moyogi +
Saikei
Sōkan/Sōju
8
Shakkan +
Pot form Style
Bunjin
Chokkan
Fukinagashi
Hokidachi +
Ishi - zuke
Ikadabuki +
Kengai
Kabudachi +
Netsuranari
Moyogi
Saikei +
Sōkan/Sōju
9
Shakkan
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The following collation presents an animated
collation and description of styles most
commonly used for Bonsai creation in Europe.
It has been generated by observing artists on
expositional and workshop levels, later
completed by literary sources.
4.1 Solitary tree forms and its reflection
on nature’s beauty
Chokkan – classic straight style -
“Majesty”[1]. A tree of an upright trunk based
on solitaries growing away from other trees.
Giving the space the tree receives, the branches
spread out in a regular pattern in all directions.
It is the primary Bonsai style, characteristic
with its splendid (nebari) and straight and
upright trunk proportionally narrowing towards
the top. The branch arrangement technique is
based on a scheme: first branch left, second
goes right, third backwards and the fourth goes
left again etc. [17]. The treetop is shaped in the
form of a pyramid. The thickness and size of
the branches is proportional to the position on
the tree – the further up, the shorter and thinner
branches are observed.
Forming a tree in such style is not an easy job,
however. It requires great precision and tact of
the form. A chokkan style tree shaped with
braches reaching towards the sky appears to be
a young one, the horizontally or reaching
downwards should give an impression of
aging. The gaps between the branches should
be made in such manner, so that the tree
appears harmonically shaped from all sides.
The position of the lowest branch is based
upon a mathematical calculation. Dividing the
tree into five sectors (counting from the
bottom), the lowest branch should be put at
height of the second sector. Of course, this rule
does not always apply – it is strictly dependant
on the predisposition of the tree. Chokkan style
trees should be pot up in rectangular, oval or
circular pots. The aging trees should be put
into pots of depth corresponding with the trunk
diameter. The pot width cannot exceed the
treetop’s vertical projection. The types of trees
recommended for shaping in chokkan style are:
Larix, Picea,Abies, Cupressus, Ulmus, Acer,
Fagus and Quercus.
Naturally irregular and fruit trees are
inadequate for shaping in chokkan style.
Fig.5, Chokkan by Katarzyna Pietraszko
Moyogi – irregular straight style - “Artist
happy with life”[1]. The trunk of this kind
of tree is bent left and right severally along
the length of the tree. The bump of each
bend is a place for side branches. The
bends cannot be over made, it is important
to leave the natural look of the tree. In
order to reach a perfect composition
balance, the treetop should be placed in a
straight line connecting it with the middle
(nebari). The nebari in this style should
look powerful, unlike in the previous style.
This rule is abandoned every so often,
forming a shakan - moyogi Bonsai style –
meaning a tree in moyogi style leaning out
characteristically for the shakan style [21].
This style is used for both conifer and leaf
trees. The treetop should be formed in a
way that one branch goes left, second right,
third backwards and fourth left, etc.
In order to emphasize the smooth trunk
line, moyogi style trees are pot up on the
sides of the pot, rather than in the middle.
The tree trunk should be slightly slanting
towards the middle of the container and the
tree vertex should be leaning towards the
observer. The moyogi style pots are
rectangular or oval. In special cases, the
pots could be circular or square.
Recommended trees for mayogi style
forming are: Pinus, Juniperus, Carpinus,
Taxus, Prunus, Malus.
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Fig.6, Moyogi by Katarzyna Pietraszko
Kengai – cascade style - “one rock is enough
to survive”[1]. This style imitates trees
growing on rock cliffs. It is one of the most
expressive styles – long trunk leaning
downwards with a large amount of branches
growing out from different places, arranged
horizontally one above the other with visible
gaps between them. The trunk end and
branches end clearly below the pot bottom.
Waterfall shaped Bonsai are commonly known
as Taki-kengai. Miniature trees with a few
casually hanging branches go by the name of
Ito-Kengai. The highest tree point, middle
trunk cap, middle bottom pot bank and the
lowest point of the above-ground part of the
tree are all in one line; this makes the kengai
style the most proportionally balanced tree.
Similarly to trees leaning out of rock ledges,
Kengai style Bonsai must be deeply rooted,
thus they are put in deeper pots to obtain better
composition stability. Cascade style trees are
also potted in kurama type pots – meaning
shell-like pots [17]. The recommended types of
trees and shrubs are ones with small leaves or
needles and a bendable trunk. This style looks
best with Pinus, Juiperus and Cotoneaster
trees.
Fig.7, Kengai by Katarzyna Pietraszko
Shakan – leaning style - “Slowly falling”[1].
The main characteristic of this style is the
trunk, which tends to be more or less leaning.
There are three shakan sub-styles: Sho-Shakan
– the tree tends to slightly inclined, Chu-
Shakan – mid-level inclined and Dai-Shakan
strongly inclined [15]. In natural habitat,
shakan styled trees can be met on steep hill-
sides or on fast-flowing river basins. The tree-
top takes shape of an irregular cone, directed
slightly in opposite direction to the trunk
incline. (Nabari) must be strongly built, so the
plant appears to be stable [18]. The branch
arrangement system is identical to the one of
Chokkan – always in horizontally or slightly
leaned down positions.
Considering the trunk incline, the shakkan
style trees are potted close to the pot side. The
larger the incline of the trunk, the closer to the
pot side the tree gets potted. In order to achieve
the aging appearance of the tree, the trunk
never extends beyond the sides of the pot. The
balance is maintained by allowing the tree to
have longer and more inclined limbs on one
side.
The tree roots must stabilize the tree well. It is
often acceptable to have the roots uncovered,
creating a more dramatic effect, showing the
trees will to survive. Oval and rectangular pots
are most commonly used for shakan style tree
containers. Square, circular and polygon pots
may destabilize the composition. Pots can be
deeper than the ones used for chokan style,
allowing more base to be put making the whole
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composition heavier. Thanks to this the tree
does not get influenced by wind blows.
Shakan style looks best when Larix, Abies,
Cupressus, Ulmus, Acer, Fagus, Quercus,
Pinus or Azalea are used for forming.
Fig.8, Shakan by Katarzyna Pietraszko
Bunjin – literate style. (Bunin-gi) - “Reaching
out to the light”[1]. It is a very complex style,
giving the artist a creative freedom not
connected to any rules. The only rule is that the
branches are to begin at 2/3 of the trunk height
[20]. The treetop is very ascetic, thin and wavy
trunk, with many visible bends. This style is
usually met on sea sides or places where the
trees have a good light access.
The inspiration for this style is the Pinus drawn
on works of the artists from southern Chinese
school of landscape painting called Nanga
[13]. The creators of this school were never
professional artists. They used to travel and
live alone in mountain shelters and dedicate
themselves to painting, calligraphy and
contemplation. They were commonly called
“Literates” [14]. Their style is strongly based
on the calligraphy. The expressiveness and
creative freedom show that even conservative
Bonsai masters have recognized its beauty.
Pots should be modest, thin, and circular and
have very toned in light colors. The pot
diameter should not exceed 1/3 of the tree
height.
Best tree types for bunjin style are Pnus, Picea
and Juniperus.
Fig.9, Bunjin by Katarzyna Pietraszko
Hokidachi – broom style - “Complete
harmony in light air”[1]. This style mirrors leaf
trees usually met in open spaces. The name of
hokidachi comes from its tree-tio shape, which
resembles an upside-down broom. The tree-top
is very regular round shape and cover almost
2/3 of the total tree height. The braches should
be of same thickness and should grow out of
the top of the trunk. The trunk itself is very
simple and has a strongly built (nebari). Plants
shaped in hokidachi style mark their
naturalness and simplicity, which reflect their
unpretentious beauty.
The pots for the hokidachi style should be
rectangular, oval, square, octagon or circular.
The often used tree types for shaping are
Ulmus, Cupressus, Betula, Acer, Fagus,
Quercus and blossoming and fruitful trees
Fig.9, Hokidashi by Katarzyna Pietraszko
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Fukinagashi – wind style - “Bent by wind”[1].
High mountain and seaside trees are the
inspirations for this very dynamic style,
because of the strong wind usually met in the
above named places. The most characteristic
feature of this style are the branches all turned
in one direction, symbolizing the wind
direction. The tree trunk may be inclined in the
same direction as the braches or, in order to
maintain the balance – in the opposite
direction. The Bonsai masters recognize two
sub-styles: trees reflecting the permanent wind
or rather trees hit by spontaneous wind blows.
The trees are never too dense, in order to
achieve the lightness of the composition.
In fukinagashi compositions fresh branches are
not allowed to grow, because they would
destroy the smooth style line. The pots should
be very thin and of oval shape. The shaping
process of the “wind shaped” tree is difficult,
but the resulting effect compensates the work
and patience. This style is usually formed with
Pnus, Acer and Ulmus.
Fig.10, Fukinagashi by Katarzyna Pietraszko
Negari – The negari style are formed with
uncovered roots, its archer are trees growing
on dams and on fast-flowing river basins. It is
an expressive style, dominated by plant
movement, similar to the one of the bunjin
form. Pinus and Ulmus are recommended for
this style. Circular pots should be very modest.
Fig.11, Negari by Katarzyna Pietraszko
4.2 Landscape forms and its reflection
on nature’s beauty
The landscape forms are widely known for
their experience with nature. During the
process of shaping landscape forms a big role
is given to the ability of connecting plant
types. It is a region of excellence for landscape
architects, since the rules for miniature and
real-size landscapes are similar.
The landscape forms described underneath are
characteristic because of multiple trunks,
which reflect their natural look.
Sokan/Soju Twin style tree. Sokan- “Man and
woman” or “Mother and child”[1]. Primarily
they are Salix or Alnus inclined over a brook.
Bonsai in this style presents with dual trunk,
the soju style, however, are two trees of same
type put next to each other in one pot. Bonsai
trees, in general, are potted in odd numbers per
pot to achieve their asymmetry. As mentioned,
despite its even number, they are differed by
different heights and growth process.
Under the trunk connection, no branches are
allowed to grow. In either of the styles it is
allowed for the tree diameter and height to be
the same. The difference in height should be
rationally same as the difference in diameter of
the two trees. The lowest branch of the lower
tree should always be under the lowest branch
of the higher tree. The branches of either of the
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trunks cannot collide with each other.
Recommended trees are Pinus and Acer.
Fig.12, Sokan/Soju by Katarzyna Pietraszko
Kabudachi – This tree has multiple trunks. It
is a Bonsai style, in which the single root
system is used for multiple roots. The term is
also used for Bonsai created from intertwined
roots, which trunks touch at the bottom. The
kabudachi style has same rules as the ones of
sokan and soju, but the quantity must be odd (3
trunks – sankan, 5 trunks – gokan, 7 trunks –
shichikan). Recommended trees are Pinus,
Juniperus and Picea.
Fig.13, Kabudachi by Katarzyna Pietraszko
IkadabukiRaft style. Ikada – “raft”. It is a
forest, in which specific trunks are parts of the
same plant. Ikadabuki is a form a forest, which
specific trees are made of branches,
horizontally growing out a trunk potted inside
a pot of one of the trees. The advantage of this
style is the uniform tree character, which color
changes depending on season. Ikadabuki are
usually met on swamps and moors. They are
created from trees knocked over by wind. For
this style both, conifers and leaf trees can be
used and trees capable of a fast rooting of
branches. The plant trunk used to create such a
Bonsai must be put inside the pot so that it
does not touch any of the pot sides. The plants
should be put on the bottom of the pot and
covered until 1/3 of the trunk and branch
diameter is uncovered. It is important to
remove all unnecessary roots.
The most popular Bonsai of this style are in the
Japanese Horyn-ji monastery. The
recommended trees are Pinus, Ulmus, Fagus,
Cydonia, Acer, Pincea, Abies.
Fig.14, Ikadabuki by Katarzyna Pietraszko
Ishizuke – rock style. The style name literary
means uhi-rock and tsuki-connected to
something [15]. The trees formed in this style
grow directly on rock tops. The tree can also
be potted in such a manner that the roots tangle
around the rock. This style could be often met
on eroded sand or chalk rock. In Poland, they
are met on Table Mountains. In Bonsai art,
ishizuke style resembles the miniature
landscape mountains with steep valleys. In the
process of formation, an ultimate number of
trees and types can be used. The only rule is
the need of keeping the natural balance – the
conifers must be potted on higher parts than
the leaf trees. The illusion that the rocks with
trees are further away is achieved when Bonsai
are made from small trees and big rocks. The
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rocks should not be symmetric or have smooth
edges. The rock should be carefully examined
for the treetop, front and base. The necessary
condition is the rock stability. If it is not stable,
it should be flattened. They are usually young
plants, raised from seeds. Older midget plants
are exceptions.
Trees growing in rock holes are never moved
and their roots are never cut. The only part
changed is the soil which is added every
couple of years. When moving the tree, the
roots cannot be disconnected from the rock in
order not to kill the plant. Recommended trees
are Picea, Pinus, Acer and Chamaecyparis.
Fig.15, Ishizuke by Katarzyna Pietraszko
Yose – uye – forest style. “Leaf whisper –
forest silence”[1]. It is a group of trees potted
in a big, thin container or on a thin rock. This
style differs from others, because of the
freedom given to the creator. Conifer Bonsai
can show old forests, young coppice or a loose
group of trees growing on open land. Trees
with branches only on one side can be used on
the outer sides of the composition. However, it
does not mean that all defective plants should
be used in such compositions. On the contrary,
the plants used in such compositions must be
carefully selected, because it is them, who
decide on the harmony of the artwork.
The selected plants should have uniform leave
types. It is even better, if all the planted plants
come from the same mother plant. The look of
the forest seems to be more evened out, since
the trees represent the same growth tempo and
treetop color. They must also be adapted to
extensive root cutting.
The selected trees may be of different age,
allowing the composition to gain a more
natural landscape view. The quantity of trees in
the composition may differ, but it is necessary
to be an odd number above seven trees. Thanks
to this, the composition does not have a
symmetric effect. The care is much easier if
the whole forest is made from the same type of
trees, since all of them need the same amount
of water, feeding value and nesting size. It is
important to have a single species dominating
and the rest being supplementary elements.
After a some time, the composition becomes
balanced, because of the domination of the
stronger plants over the weaker ones. It is then
necessary to correct the seeding places.
Recommended types for yose-ue style are:
Larix, Abies, Cupressus, Ulmus, Acer, Fagus,
Quercus, Pinus and Zelkova.
Pots should be rectangular or oval and very
thin. Forests can be potted on rock or clay
tables.
Fig.16, Yose-uye by Katarzyna Pietraszko
Saikei – landscape style. The style name
originates from Japan and stands for "a
landscape on a plate". It is an art of recreating
a particular landscape as a miniature. The
main idea of this style is to show the natural
beauty of the landscape composition in a thin
container. In this specific case, the pot plays a
vital role, similarly to the painting frame.
Saikei is very popular in China and most
Pacific countries. The term saikei has been
created in 1963 by an artist creating landscape
compositions on Toshio Kawamoto tray [6].
Just as in natural landscapes, the materials used
for the landscape may take different size and
character. Although the saikei may take the
view of the composition of the famous Bonsai
artist, made by using materials widely found in
the selected place, it can also be an exotic or
amazing creation. In both cases, the elements
must be carefully adjusted to create a whole
composition.
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There are three different style types. The first
one is keto – bonkei. Its main feature is the
usage of keto – dark brown clay mixed with
peat from decayed plant substances and loam.
Secondly there is bonseki, where sceneries are
created with white sand on a black, covered
in laque tray. Neither ground nor plant is used
here. The third type is hako—niwa. This is art
of creating miniature garden in all types of
vessels with usage of artificial or natural
resources. Saikei has often been made using
the shakkei techniques. Distant mountains that
are commanded at the small angle are often
used for making „Shakkei” – borrowed scenery
[8].
Fig. 17, Saikei by Katarzyna Pietraszko
5 Landscape aesthetics.
Aesthetics is one of the values next to ethics, which
take care of the questions of harmony, disharmony,
beauty and ugliness. It functions as a systematic
thought of beauty and art. [18]. Landscape and
natural environment aesthetics are conditional to
the perception of nature and visual perception of
buildings. The perception of nature largely depends
on the local conditions, for example climate, relief,
natural phenomenon and plants. Perception is a part
of a larger aesthetic experience, which depend not
only on natural conditions, but on time space and
cultural region. This is why aesthetic values change
depending on countries and cultures. These
differences can be seen in planning, building and
architecture. [17].
In order to understand the Japanese classical
aesthetic terms, it is necessary to understand
the general philosophical results, which created
the final form. Japanese find the role of nature
as the most important and it had great impact
on the shaping of the social-cultural life.
Facing natural disasters, on flat land, and
oceans, the Japanese built the global view
according to the terms of fragility, vanity,
passing and some philosophical systems (the
religious ones gave a metaphysical strength
and power). The aesthetic values have never
been put on the Japanese, but introduced
according to their sensitivity and the needs of
aesthetics. The Japanese aesthetic need
adjusted (next to theatre, poetry, painting)
easily next to the noble everyday life like
drinking tea, flowering, gardening and the art
of miniaturization. All types penetrated by
themselves and created aesthetic ideals.
According to Donald Kenne [10]: “The artistic
character of the Japanese changes in the way of
interpreting the simplicity of beauty”
“In painting, it looks as if the Japanese pallet
had more colors and mixing them gives a
greater literary meaning, which simply cannot
be translated into most European
languages.”[17]
The aesthetic rules below describe the basics
of designing the art of miniaturization.
Suggestion and being incomplete – this rule
is the highest value in terms of art work in the
Japanese culture. Within art, most culture
areas, as well as in daily customs one can find
ambiguities standing for being incomplete. The
latter gives the audience the possibility to fill
the gaps with his or her own object or activity
imagination [6]. While creating a masterpiece
the author is supposed to suggest in a subtle
way such potential matters by means of
masterpiece construction that captures ideas
but does not restrain interpretation. One has to
bear in mind that a perfect completion of the
masterpiece limits the interpretation, hence
decreases its value.
The suggestion has been greatly influenced by
shintoism, according to which the trees and
rocks have been the location of spirit divinity
(kami). It can be observed by introducing the
aging techniques ( jin, shari, sabamiki – which
symbolize and suggest, that kami lives in the
miniature trees) into the Bonsai art.
Jin means “sign of Gods”, it was the treetop.
According to sihnto it was the sign from God,
who living in the old tree showed his presence.
[14].
Sabamiki means “saba” – mackerel fish and
“miki” – trunk. It was a fragment of the trunk
showing the mythical fish.
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Fig.18, Jin by Katarzyna Pietraszko
Shari – “Buddha‘s bone”. This was invented
when the Korean and Chinese Buddhism began
to impact Shinto.
“Perfection is an untouched sphere, which
repels imagination. It doe not leave any space
for it to come through” – Donald Kenee [11].
This is where the general rule of avoiding
perfection, regularity and perfect finishing
came from. It suggested that perfection did not
allow further development.
The base of Japanese understanding of beauty
is the unfinished perfection and caducity
manifesting by the raising and withering
phases. The beauty condition is not
immortality, but showing its effect of fragility
and passing (…).
The imperfection judged from aesthetic point
of view leads to aesthetic value of poverty and
lack, which found its meaning in the following
terms – Wabi and Sabi, Yūgen [10].
Wabi, Sabi, Yūgen
The key term in Japanese aesthetics connects
into one whole metaphysical-aesthetical
concept, creating aesthetic answers [5]. The
terms are based on the Buddhist Zen
philosophy, tea ceremony and haiku poetry.
They represent the state of mind of a person
while looking at the work of art. Although,
some of these terms have a similar meaning
and describe similar feelings, some differ by
nuances and connotation.
Wabi can bean: melancholic loneliness,
modest, deserted, calm, quiet, motionless,
impoverished and unpretentious. Wabi is a
subjective feeling provoked b an object,
classically an abandoned fisherman’s home on
a deserted windy beach on a gray winter day.
In the essay Heraty’s Road by Toshihiko
Izutsu [21] he writes: …”Some things, like
eroded rocks, exposed to the climate and
because of an old piece of wood, an old
brocade of bad colors, standing somewhere
abandoned, an old border rock, which will
soon disappear or will become immobile etc,
create an amazing sensitivity in people from
under the wabi sign”.
Sabi can mean old, calm, subtle, antic, mature
and experienced, as well as deserted, empty
and melancholic. The presence of Sabo is often
suggested by patina and other symptoms of
being time used or used on a valuable antique.
Yūgen. The term is hard to put in words, it
bases on the emotional state of the object,
bringing out what is complex, hidden in nature.
State Yūgen can be compared to a blossoming
flower, its understatement, rejection of what is
fulfilled and finished on the phase of beginning
or ending, when what is not present or yet to
be, becomes suggested. [17].
Fig.18, Yūgen by Katarzyna Pietraszko
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Yūgen can mean unclear and dark, with the
word “dark” being a metaphorical game of
words “mysterious, deep, unsure, subtle”. The
classical illustration of the word Yūgen is a
scene showing the moonlight appearing from
behind the clouds or by morning fog covering
a mountain range.
Trees, which show these features aesthetically
usually, have ripped roots, which have not
given up for centuries. The trees itself are often
admired for their stability, courage, strength
and a great will.
Irregularity and asymmetry. Accenting the
beginning and ending abandons the regularity
and perfection. From early literary sources, we
know that the Japanese have tried to avoid
regularity and symmetry. They have probably
thought that it interferes and limits the strength
of imagination. The regularity has been
avoided by not using evens and using the
numbers 7 – 5- 3. The irregularity connects to
the Buddhist Zen philosophy and creates
triangular forms marking the arc. The are made
by three lines: skyline (vertical), ground
(horizontal) and human (slanting and
connecting the two previous ones). The
asymmetric creation bases on imperfection,
creating a dynamic effect. A work built on
these rules has an closed “power” and creates a
tension connecting the construction.
Simplicity and impermanence. Zastosowanie
najbardziej oszczędnych środków do uzyskania
oczekiwanego efektu wynika z filozofii zen,
która ma wielki wpływ na estetykę japońską.
Prostota jest zasadą estetyczną,
bezpieczniejszą niż obfitość. Decydując się na
nią oraz dochowując wierności zasadzie
sugestii, Japończycy utracili część możliwych
efektów artystycznych na rzecz tworzenia
uniwersalnych dzieł sztuki, nietkniętych przez
zmienne tendencje upodobań. Za
zamiłowaniem do prostoty i naturalnych
właściwości rzeczy idzie najbardziej
charakterystyczny dla Japonii ideał estetyczny
- nietrwałość. Jest ona także bardzo bliska
ogólnemu pojęciu piękna, ponieważ przelotne
spojrzenie na obiekt może w pewnych
okolicznościach stymulować zmysł piękna [17]
Prostota osiągana była poprzez dopracowanie
każdego detalu i tworzenie atmosfery
naturalności.
Fig.17, Impermanence by Katarzyna
Pietraszko
Fūzei This word means “breeze” and
feeling, thus the word can be understood as
an atmosphere or mood. Fuzei gives a
place spirit – genius loci and shows the
architects taste. This term explains the
impact of the garden plan, showing off its
specific perception feature arrangement.
These features seem to balance between
the artwork and observer, giving the
composition a unusual character, showing
the materials used. If the garden architect
realizes the strength of the composition, he
will not have to restate the natural
landscape features in order to gain the
mood the composition gives. It is
important to remark that it was believed
that the landscape made the mood. It was
believed that the local Shinto kami (ghosts)
lived in specially selected rocks, trees and
flowing water.
6 Conclusion
Bonsai treated as a living sculpture can be a
model of trees in nature: from single ones to
dense forests located around fields or on
hillsides.
The art of miniaturization is a special
discipline of knowledge, connecting in itself
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elements of philosophy, painting, sculpture,
architecture and gardening. The artist
performing such work on a living plant is lead
by the basic rules of aesthetics: feeling of
beauty, simplicity, asymmetry and
suggestibility. The artist must also show great
feeling of balance and connecting many forms,
texture, colors and space. The art of miniature
landscapes is also dependant on the knowledge
of nature: abilities to perceive the change of
nature and the diversity of different forms met
in nature. This art should be examined from
different far-eastern designing philosophy,
environment psychology, natural aesthetics,
European designing rules and aesthetic values.
The basics of Bonsai art is the eastern
perspective of the world. The Asian way of life
unchangingly goes in harmony of humans with
nature and the whole universe. The interactive
influence between the human and Bonsai have
a deeper base in Buddhist and Taoist
philosophy. In the European culture, the art of
landscape miniaturization is successfully
functioning since not long ago.
In a broader manner the concept of landscape
design may be described as the „big idea” that
is often obtained from information extracted
from the local geographic, agricultural,
topographic, environmental and
anthropological studies. In relation to the
designer’s experiences and philosophical
approaches towards nature, landscape,
aesthetic and global composition [3].
This happens, since during the process of
creating landscape design there are always
ideas and designs in mind that directly or
indirectly influence the designer [7]
John Burley said: “The importance of concept
is that it drives the design solution, creating an
environment that is more than just a collection
of unrated shapes and forms” [3].
It is also pursued by landscape architects, who
are fascinated by designing landscapes
reflecting the nature scaled into miniature pots.
References:
[1] Ardle J., 2003, Bonsai, RHS Wisley
Handbooks, Octopus Publishing group,
London.
[2] Burley J., 2006. The design concept:
Intellectual landscapes in Michigan. The
Michigan Landscape. 49 (12): 33 – 40
[3] Burley J., Loures L., 2008. Conceptual
Landscape design precedent: Four historic
sites revised [in:] „New Aspects of Landscape
Architecture”, Proceedings of the 1st WSEAS
International Conference on LANDSCAPE
ARCHITECTURE (LA’08), p. 11–16.
[4] Chan P., 1988, Bonsai Masterclass ; New
York: Sterling Publishing Co. ISBN 0-8069-
6762-5.
[5] Ching – Yu Chang, 1990. Japanese spatial
conception. The Japan Architect. ‘The general
Notion of Beauty”, no. 8404, p. 66-68, no.
8405, p.64-67
[6] Covello V., Yoshimura Y., 1984.The Japanese
Art. Of Stone Appreciation. Suiseki and Its Use
with Bonsai. North Clarendon: Tuttle
Publishing
[7] Faizi M., Khakzand M., 2007. The position of
concept in landscape design process. Design
principles and practices: An International
Journal, 1: 27 – 38, Issue 3
[8] Kawasaki M., Nakajima I., Yamaguchi K.,
2008. A study on the method of using
topographic formations in the landscape
design of Japanese gardens in hilly terrains
[in:] New Aspects of Landscape Architecture,
Proceedings of the 1st WSEAS International
Conference on LANDSCAPE
ARCHITECTURE (LA’08), p. 147–152.
[9] Katō S., 1988, The Beauty of Bonsai ; Tokyo:
Kodansha International Ltd.; ISBN 4-06-
200436-4.
[10] Keene D. 1971. Japanese Aesthetics.
Appreciations of Japanese Culture. Tokio,
New York: Kodanska International s. 11-25.
[11] Kenne D., 1990, Japanese aesthetic [in]
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International, Tokio and New York, p. 11-25.
[12] Kenne D., 1990, Realism and unreality in
Japanese drama. [in] Apperecitations of
Japanese culture. Kodanska International,
Tokio and New York, p. 52-70.
[13] Liang A., 1995 The Living Art of Bonsai.
Principles & Techniques of Cultivation &
Propagation, Sterling Publishing, Co.,Inc. New
York.
[14] Lewis C., 2001 The Art of Bonsai Design ;
New York: Sterling Publishing; ISBN-10
1402700709 ; ISBN-13: 978-1402700705.
[15] Naka J., 1973Bonsai technigues I, Bonsai
Institute of California, Eleventh Printing.
United States of America.
[16] Nakamura Z., 1968,Shohin Bonsai ; Tokyo:
Tsuru-Shobo Co. Ltd.
[17] Pietraszko K., 2007. Bonsai jako
odzwierciedlenie piękna krajobrazu. Praca
magisterska, Wrocław, 2007.
[18] Pietraszko K., 2007. Bonsai w oczach
architekta krajobraz, Ekonatura, Nr 2007/8,
2007 str.23-25.
[19] Płochocki A., 1990 Bonsai - Miniaturyzacji
drzew i krzewów, Państwowe wydawnictwo
Rolnicze i Leśne, Warszawa.
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Katarzyna Pietraszko and Jerzy Sobota
ISSN: 1790-5079
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[20] Pfisterer J.,1995 Zimmer – Bonsai – formen &
pflegen, Grafe und Unzen Verlag GmbH,
Munchen.
[21] Tomlinson, H., The Complete Book of Bonsai ;
New York: Abbeville Press, Inc.; 1990. ISBN
0863184847.©1990 Dorling Kindersley
Limited London. ISBN 1-55859-118-4.
[21] Toshihiko I ., 1981 The Way of Tea: an Art of
Spatial Awerness” [in] The theory of Beauty in
Classical Aesthetic of Japan. Maritinus Nijhoff
Publishers, The Huge (Boston London.
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Book
Full-text available
Japanese visual culture has been characterised with the labels “depthless” and “superflat”, suggesting a sensitivity to two-dimensional constructs such as shape and figure. How might this sensibility translate to the spatial world of architecture? Via an updated deployment of patterns and layers, suggests a new book that assembles research from the lab of Kengo Kuma at Architecture Department of the University of Tokyo. Entitled “Patterns and Layering – Japanese Spatial Culture, Nature and Architecture”, and edited by two Italian researchers at Kuma lab Salvator-John Liotta and Matteo Belfiore, the book brings together essays, analyses, and design demonstrations exploring the potential of these concepts in developing a fresh approach to architectural space-making, yet one resonant with key elements of the Japanese tradition. Critic by Julian Worrall, Professor at Waseda University, Japan
Article
Full-text available
The article explains the importance of the design concept in creating landscapes with examples from Michigan,Italy, France, and California.
Article
Full-text available
Designers are interested in the generation of form to guide the development of a particular design. With the advent of the modern design era in the 20th Century, the design "concept" became a driving force for most architecture, landscape architecture, and interior design schools, teaching students how to employ the design concept to guide the generation of form and details. Although, the design concept was employed in some designs before the 20th century, discussions concerning the design concept for historic landscapes has been limited. To illustrate examples of historic landscapes with design concepts, we chose four projects to be revisited: Bom Jesus do Monte (Portugal), Xiaoling Tomb (China), Vaux le Vicomte (France), and Villa Lante (Italy).
technigues I, Bonsai Institute of California, Eleventh Printing
  • J Naka
Naka J., 1973Bonsai technigues I, Bonsai Institute of California, Eleventh Printing. United States of America.
Realism and unreality in Japanese drama
  • D Kenne
Kenne D., 1990, Realism and unreality in Japanese drama. [in] Apperecitations of Japanese culture. Kodanska International, Tokio and New York, p. 52-70.
A study on the method of using topographic formations in the landscape design of Japanese gardens in hilly terrains
  • M Kawasaki
  • I Nakajima
  • K Yamaguchi
Kawasaki M., Nakajima I., Yamaguchi K., 2008. A study on the method of using topographic formations in the landscape design of Japanese gardens in hilly terrains [in:] New Aspects of Landscape Architecture, Proceedings of the 1 st WSEAS International Conference on LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE (LA'08), p. 147-152.
Bonsai -Miniaturyzacji drzew i krzewów, Państwowe wydawnictwo Rolnicze i Leśne
  • A Płochocki
Płochocki A., 1990 Bonsai -Miniaturyzacji drzew i krzewów, Państwowe wydawnictwo Rolnicze i Leśne, Warszawa.
The Beauty of Bonsai
  • S Katō
Katō S., 1988, The Beauty of Bonsai ; Tokyo: Kodansha International Ltd.; ISBN 4-06-200436-4.
The Living Art of Bonsai. Principles & Techniques of Cultivation & Propagation
  • A Liang
Liang A., 1995 The Living Art of Bonsai. Principles & Techniques of Cultivation & Propagation, Sterling Publishing, Co.,Inc. New York.
The Japanese Art. Of Stone Appreciation. Suiseki and Its Use with Bonsai
  • V Covello
  • Y Yoshimura
Covello V., Yoshimura Y., 1984.The Japanese Art. Of Stone Appreciation. Suiseki and Its Use with Bonsai. North Clarendon: Tuttle Publishing