Penjing And The Art Of Tray Landscaping


As the art of bonsai has become hugely popular the world over, another similar concept that is also catching on is Penjing, the Chinese art of tray scenery.

In fact the Japanese art of Bonsai is derived from the ancient art of Penjing. This is also known as Penzai (the word bonsai is the Japanese version of this word) which literally means tray plant. Penjing is the art of presenting a landscape or scenery in a tray or a shallow pot.

tray landscapingIn Penjing, which is sometimes referred to as three dimensional poetry or living sculpture, the arrangement would consist typically of cultivating trees and plants in particular manner.

Specific kind of pruning is used to give an illusion of age – and not only such miniature plants but an entire setting consisting of miniature rockeries and other garden elements.

In other words there is the attempt to render a natural looking scene but on a smaller scale.

Bonsai plants tend to be more simplified in shape and with more neutral containers. Penjing permits a wilder look, with more colorful and unusual pot shapes.

Influenced by Taoism, Penjing draws on the twin concepts of yin and yang and is a study of contrasts in nature – opposing but complementary forces welded together in an artistic representation.

The plants cultivated in this style and presented as part of the miniature landscape may often be as many as a hundred years old.

The twisted, gnarled tree trunk is cultivated to look like a miniature version of what it would look like, in its natural or wild state.

Trees and shrubs are artificially dwarfed and cultivated in special trays that are often placed on special stands that may be made of wood and ornately carved. The attempt is to create a complete scene using not only other garden elements such as rock arrangements but also small porcelain figurines.

There are many different styles of traditional Penjing in China – these are named after the main kinds of plants used as well as the geographical region that they came from – the Guangdong style is so named because it originated in that southern province.

This style is known for its simplicity as is the Sichuan style; whereas the Jiangsu style is known for its more complicated structure – the tops of the trees may be specially cultivated to look like clouds.

The Yangzhou style is known for its distinctive three twists of the trunk.In Addition There Are The Shanghai Style, The Guangxi Style, Anhui Style, Fujian Style, Beijing Style, Taiwan Style And Hubei Style Of Penjing Among Yet Others.

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