History of Bonsai

Informal Upright Style Bonsai
Informal Upright Style Bonsai

It is believed that the concept of Bonsai first began in China as far back as 206 B.C. in the Han dynasty and even earlier.

The development of bonsai in China was an extension of the art of garden planning. This originated many centuries ago in the dynasties such as HSAI, Shang and Chou. Documented examples of these are: the Yow Terrace, built by King Jiek of Hsai, the Luk Terrace, of King Jow of Shang and the Ling Terrace and Ling Pond of King Wen of Chou. The plants in these gardens were not left to grow wildly but were trimmed to conform with the artistic layout of the garden.

These gardens were to represent the arrangement and effect of large mountain or rocky landscapes reduced in size to conform to the scale of a backyard garden. In the ancient writings of the Han dynasty (206 B.C. to 221 A.D.), many such gardens are mentioned. Some of these gardens, however, were not so small as we may think. In the garden of Yuen Kwang-han, for example, there are artificial rock hills of 200 feet high. Within these gardens container plants were placed in certain areas specifically to create peace and harmony. This is represented in ancient Chinese and Japanese temples and throughout the world today.

Other civilizations besides the Chinese have grown container plants since antiquity for similar functional (rather than aesthetic) reasons. Records indicate that the Ancient Greeks and Romans did, as well as the Babylonians, Persians, Hindus, Egyptians and men of ancient Europe. The idea of keeping plants in containers may have originated when man had to move his home for one reason or another. Gradually, it was found that with good soil and fertilizing, trees could be kept for quite a long time under such conditions. An example of this today is Master Saburo Kato in Japan who cares for and maintains a 400 year old Bonsai. Another example is that in Egypt exists pictorial records showing us that trees were grown in �pots� cut into rock, about 4000 years ago. Records also tell us that Pharoah Rameses III donated 514 gardens to temples. These gardens were made up of potted olives, date palms, lotus, rushes, lilies and various grasses, these container plants were also very functional as they were also grown for fruit, herbs and medicine.

"Bonsai is the creation of living art and the blending of elements"

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