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A Guide to Bonsai Basics
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Bonsai Display
The Practice of Displaying Traditional Bonsai
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“What Elements Are Utilized In The Display Of Traditional Bonsai?
Displaying bonsai is an art onto itself and whether you display your bonsai
formally in a show or informally in your home or in your backyard, a creative
and compelling display will give you and everyone who views it a completely
new appreciation for bonsai. An awareness of the traditional elements
associated with the display of bonsai is advantageous to the success of your
display and having a keen awareness will enhance your understanding of and
appreciation for the art of bonsai display.
The traditional elements of bonsai display include: a bonsai tree, a display
table or stand, an accent item, and a scroll. Each of these elements plays a
vital role in the display by constructing, generating, and producing an
emotional and intellectual panorama. The bonsai tree is and always should be
the most important component of every display.
An exceptionally intriguing bonsai that is truly inspiring can conjure up an
entire panorama by itself and, therefore, may be used in a display alone;
though this is rarely the case, do not let that stop you from working to
create such a masterful bonsai.
If it is necessary to give more hints or evidence of the setting you are trying
to suggest, then an accent item should be added to the display. If still more
"information" is required, then a scroll can really provide a desirable impact
and can help to complete the impression being made by your display. When
presented harmoniously, these elements will enable you to successfully
produce, in the mind of the viewer: a landscape, a season, or a secret
mystical spot - a panorama of the mind, if you will.
What Is The Purpose Of The Display Table or Stand?
The purpose of the display table or stand is to raise the bonsai tree up to the
ideal viewing height. This viewing height is traditionally considered to be
halfway up the trunk of your bonsai. This height enables the viewer to
distinguish, and more easily follow the main trunk line of your bonsai. By
directing the viewer's attention to this focal point, the displayer can influence
what the viewer perceives and determines as noteworthy. The bonsai and the
accent item should both be positioned on a table or stand to raise them from
the bench. However, it is important to remember that the dominant element
of your display, the bonsai, should be placed on a higher table or stand than
the accent item - ensuring that it is unmistakably regarded as more
significant.
On a practical level, the table or stand you utilize can be: antique, modern, a
slab of wood, or a bamboo mat - but you must use a stand in your display. A
table or stand that is more versatile is one that looks appropriate with several
different types of trees and is, therefore, much easier to work with. This
versatility is something to take into consideration when choosing a table or
stand to purchase. The legs of the display table should look sturdy enough
to support your bonsai tree, but not appear overpowering. Dark woods, such
as Rosewood and Mahogany, are preferable for use with most kinds of
bonsai, but a light colored wood, such as bamboo, may be used with a
flowering bonsai, such as an azalea, or with a flowering accent item, such as a
miniature hosta.
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SECRET OF SHAPING
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What Is The Traditional Purpose Of The Accent Item?
The purpose of the accent item is an important one and an appropriately
selected accent item will enhance the overall display. An accent item can be
almost any "item" that helps to evoke in the mind of the viewer a notion of a
landscape, a season, a secret mystical spot or whichever natural
phenomenon that the displayer is presenting to them. When selecting an
accent item there are a couple of things to keep in mind: always remember
that the bonsai tree is the dominant and most significant element in the
display and that the accent item is there to enhance and not overpower it.   
Also, remember that it is important for the overall harmonizing effect of your
display to select an item that inhabits the same region as the bonsai being
displayed. It would be an incongruity to have a bonsai tree that is indigenous
to a warm climate presented alongside a small plant or animal from a cold
mountainous area. This type of circumstance would actually detract, instead
of contribute, to your display. Accent items should not be randomly chosen
elements that are scattered throughout the display to brighten it with color
or draw chaotic attention. Accent items should be elements that bring to the
display a semblance of something natural or in nature: by adding a few
pebbles you can depict a babbling brook, bringing a sense of sound and
movement to your display; a quail or some geese resting can signify the
coming of autumn, bringing a sense of time to your display; a crane or a
young boy catching fish will suggest thoughts of summertime and youth.
What Is The Purpose Of A Scroll And Its Selection?
The purpose of the scroll element is as important as the accent item and
selecting a suitable scroll will augment the overall effect of the display. Original
silk scrolls are exceptionally expensive and in Japan a serious art collector will
pay millions of dollars to own the work of a particular artist who is famous for
their scroll paintings. Of course, you do not have to spend millions of dollars
to purchase a Japanese scroll in order to effectively present your display. Any
store or shop that specializes in Asian Decor will certainly have a selection of
reasonably priced scrolls for you to choose from. The important thing to keep
in mind when selecting a scroll to purchase is that it, just like the accent item,
lends itself to the overall feeling of your display. A scroll can be a painting
that portrays anything that will help bring to mind, for the viewer, an
impression of a landscape, a season, or a secret mystical place that the
display is offering to the viewer's imagination. For example: a mountain vista
promotes the sense of a mountainous area where a pine tree would obviously
be indigenous to, a seagull evokes thoughts of the coast, and a scroll
painting of a snow-covered hill connotes winter.
All of these traditional elements when displayed in faultless accord assemble,
produce, and bring into being an emotional and intellectual panorama - taking
bonsai to the next level. As stated above, this panorama resides in the mind
of the viewer and as each viewer has different powers of perception, the
panorama they perceive, and their reaction to it, will be unique to them. A
perceptive viewer and a compelling display will result in a successful
collaboration, leaving one to ponder one of the fundamental conundrums of
our time: "Does life create art, or does art create life?"
Are There Cultural Differences Regarding The Display Of Bonsai?
One of the cultural differences concerning the display of bonsai trees is, very
basically, that traditional Japanese homes are architecturally and
characteristically designed so as to contain within the structure itself a
tokonoma or - a place of honor - where bonsai are arranged and displayed
on a seasonal and celebratory basis throughout the year; while in a typical
Western style home, a bonsai display would, more likely than not, be
arranged outside or in an outside setting, because bonsai - and the practice
of displaying bonsai - is not culturally traditional in the West (.yet!). “
                                                                                    By Tom Regan
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--Article: From Bonsai Primer
  • Bonsai Display
--From Artistic Bonsai Circle
--There are sophisticated guidelines as to how such a display is arranged.
(pull-quote)
--
"Tokonoma Displays"
--"Display Stands"
--"Garden Displays"
--"Revolving Tops for Garden Stands"
  • Accent Plants
--From Artistic Bonsai Circle
--Accent plants are generally used when bonsai trees are displayed in a
Tokonama display. (pull-quote)
--
"Accent Plants"
--"Grasses"
--"Ferns"
--"Hostas"
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