Chinese Bonsai (Penjing) – The History Around It

Bonsai is a Japanese word but was originally found in China. After origination, the study and practice was passed on to the Japanese where it was extensively developed. Penjing can also be called Bonsai as it is formed out of the word ‘Pen’ which also means pot and ‘jing’ which also means scenery. It is all about creating a beautiful ancient painting in a small pot.

A long time ago, ancient people of china always made it their duty to create Chinese bonsai as they found pleasure in designing it. According to them, landscape painting and above all, nature was their inspiration. The practice of a plant and a stone in water goes as far back as (618-907) which was the Tang dynasty. The Chinese have an ancient belief that by being in tune with nature, their spiritual life will be enhanced. 

Chinese Bonsai (Penjing) - The History Around It
Chinese Bonsai (Penjing) – The History Around It

Penjing – Chinese Bonsai

Penjing has mainly been used in the ancient years for artistic development. As the years kept on counting, the practice became more popular and it wasn’t a surprise when the first manuals appeared due to its fame. That was in the Qing dynasty in the year 1644-1911. Still due to Penjing’s fame and popularity, it was commercialized and so more modern ways of practicing it came up to complement the ancient designs. Those who have gone deep in the study and practice of Penjing would tell you how similar it is to Bonsai but the only little difference is that Bonsai which is being practiced today was modernized from Penjing.

There are three main types of Penjing which are:
1. Tree Penjing which is also known as shumu Penjing. This method is all about creating a little artistic tree in a small and shallow container. Chinese bonsai usually represent characters or animals.
2. Water and Land Penjing also called Shuihan Penjing makes material use of water, rocks and trees hence its name Suihan Penjing.
3. Landscape Penjing also called Shanshui Penjing uses the rocks as its principal component for its landscape composition. This is why it is called landscape Penjing.

Chinese bonsai comes in various styles and designs but all these vary along with the tree specie. Behind each artistry or design are the revelation of an untold story and the discovery of the mysterious nature. Chinese bonsai is based on creativity that tries to divert out of the rules but still reaches perfection. The designs are mostly made to have a resemblance of a Chinese character or an animal. One of the designs is a Chinese dragon which is usually used to represent prosperity or good fortune.
Chinese bonsai is one of those historical practices that prove its uniqueness by telling its viewers stories of the ancient times.

This is the history of surrounding the Chinese bonsai. Not only the Chinese adopted this culture from the Japanese, other countries also adopted it and it forms the bases of the various horticultural designs you see all over the world. There is never a part of the world you would go to that flowers are not used to design up to 80% of the environments. This is what makes the study of Bonsai very popular in the world today.