History of Bonsai

Bonsai stems from ancient, oriental culture, originating in China and developed by the Japanese. Many cultures collected and potted wild trees that had been dwarfed by nature, but the Japanese are credited with refining this activity to the art form it is today. Chinese bonsai, or penjing, was the precursor of modern Japanese bonsai; its various styles having been practiced in the Far East for many centuries prior to its introduction to Japan.

In bonsai history there are other names also used for the growing of miniature trees or the making of miniature landscape are penjing and pentsai. Penjing means a tree or plant in a container with rocks or sand. Pentsai means a tree or arrangement of trees that maya include a rock or rocks.

When pentsai was introduced to Japan through trade, the Japanese changed the name pentsai to bonsai. Today the Japanese also have other names for tray landscapes, such as bonkei and bonseki.

Ancient drawings on Egyptian tombs showing small trees in containers placed around temples seem to suggest that there was religious element uniting trees and worship.

The earliest evidence of bonsai was discovered in the tomb of Prince Zhang Huai, who died in 706, in the form of two wall paintings showing servants carrying what we believe to be bonsai.

The bonsai history has a multitude of beginnings. Korea, China and Japan certainly developed the art of growing mini-trees, but most probably it was the result of commerce between Indian and Chinese itinerant traders.

About the beginning of the 20th century the interest in bonsai began to spread to the Western world, especially to America, where are many bonsai societies and clubs.

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