Bonsai art (history)

Seeing the world in miniature is a desire, which can be partially realized with the help of a kind of oriental sophisticated art called bonsai (Japanese 盆栽, "plant on a tray"). Its essence lies in the culture of growing a multi-fold reduced exact copy of an ordinary tall tree in a small pot, tray or dish. The desired effect is achieved by a special method of watering, timely and regular pruning and haircuts, the correct dosage of lighting and feeding, as well as the use of wire, which allows you to give the miniature tree the necessary shape.

The first manifestations of art, which today is considered an important part of Eastern culture, are more than 2000 years old. Although officially the age of bonsai as a separate stream is approximately 1300 years. There are many legends and theories regarding the moment of its inception. According to one of them, the first admirer of this trend in art was the Chinese emperor from the Han dynasty (200 BC). One day the ruler had a desire to learn more about his empire. Naturally, the emperor could not travel all over the Celestial Empire, therefore, groups of several dozen educated people were sent to all the provinces of China in order to study the characteristics of the area and then depict them in miniature. Thus, a miniature empire was created, which depicted rivers, mountains, trees, houses, livestock and even people on a greatly reduced scale. For the future layout, Vladyka ordered to build a wide area of ​​marble, the outlines of which should be identical to the outlines of the map of the country. Everything was done exactly as the emperor wished - the brought Chinese landscapes were installed at the palace. It was then that the beginning of the art of depicting miniature landscapes was laid, which went through a difficult and long way, constantly transforming and improving.

During the Middle Ages, along with Buddhist teachings and other cultural treasures of the continent, the art of creating bonsai spread to Japan, where it initially took root among representatives of high society, in particular aristocrats, high-ranking samurai and Buddhist clergy, and later, at the beginning of the 18th century, and at the national level. ...

The bonsai style was also developed by Buddhists, equating a person who grows a tree with God, because, according to their vision, the world looks like a garden of Buddha, in which he is a gardener.

Japanese craftsmen diligently refined the skills of foreign craftsmen and turned the usual decorative techniques of Chinese gardeners into a self-sufficient and fine art. The cultivation of miniature trees has taken root as an integral part of Japanese culture. It was in the vastness of the Land of the Rising Sun that the method of growing bonsai was most actively developed and reached its perfection.

The peak of the popularity of this art falls on the XVIII-XIX centuries. Then, in Japan, they began to introduce special tree shaping techniques, norms, rules, highlight various styles, and organize exhibitions where bonsaists could share their achievements and skills. The oldest operating exhibition in Japan is the bonsai exhibition in Tokyo, which was first held back in 1914 and continues to delight people with its luxurious exhibits every year.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, centuries-old Japanese bonsai traditions penetrated the West. In Europe, the first exhibition took place in 1889 at the Japanese Pavilion in Paris. Already in 1909, an exhibition was held in London, and later in other European countries. Oddly enough, then the Europeans did not appreciate the new art and attacked the Japanese craftsmen with fierce criticism, considering it an "inhuman torture" of trees. After the Second World War, the direction began to gain wide popularity in the West.

Today, more than 100 thousand miniature trees grow in Japan, and some of them already have a century-old history in their luggage. Absolutely all copies are considered national property. There is a tradition in Japanese families to pass on bonsai-style trees from generation to generation as a valuable family heirloom.

In the past few years, the popularity of mini-trees has grown rapidly. Many people try to uncover and master the secrets of bonsai cultivation, which requires regularity and great patience. To master the basic principles of creating mini-trees, a future master needs an average of 5-10 years. There is an opinion that it takes at least three years to master the elementary moment - proper watering. Therefore, when starting to study this art, it is important to determine the strength of your desire to achieve a goal that does not accept fuss. With proper care, bonsai specimens can live for hundreds of years, retaining the memory of those who planted and raised them. The most famous surviving ancient specimen is represented by a pine tree, which was grown by the shogun Iemitsu Tokugawa (1604-1651).

Naturally, older bonsai specimens are more valuable and therefore more expensive than younger ones. Thus, century-old copies are sold on the world market for tens of thousands of dollars. However, age is not the only important criterion here. An important role is played by the artistic idea displayed by the plant, as well as its compliance with the size of the container and a healthy appearance.

Various plants with dense branches and small leaves (pine, spruce, juniper, cypress, cherry, beech, cedar, zelkva, rhododendron and azalea) are suitable for growing bonsai. It is important to know that you need to use a stalk or seed of an ordinary, by no means a hybrid tree. The height of the smallest specimens is 3-8 cm, while the largest representatives can reach 1.5-2 meters.