A Few Little Facts on Little Trees


I went to a meeting of the HartfordSpringfield Bonsai Society tonight and was surprised to learn that—-

    • Many of the most highly-prized earliest examples, as well as most recent, were made in China. Classical bonsai pots aren’t classified by the era of their creation, but the time by which they came to Japan, Kowatari “early crossing” (1811 – 1863), Nakawatari “middle crossing”(1863-1911), Shinwatari “late crossing(?)” (1911-1940) and Shinto Contemporary (1940- ).


    • During Kokufu-ten, maybe the most prestigious Japanese competition, people will spend JPY equivalent around almost $10,000 to rent a specific Nakawatari pot for a week to display their plants; many of these are owned by prominent families and studios which lease their entire collections a few weeks a year


    • Some of the most prized culturally iconic bonsai in Japan will be placed in competitions in pots so new and novel that other plants would be disqualified to the competition by those containers alone; this is one way new styles are introduced to an otherwise very traditional art


    • With some exception, brighter and more intricate glazes are indicative of poorer clay; generally these extravagant finishing styles were an artisanal way to compensate for pots made of non-vitreous clays that cannot be easily heated to a high enough temperature for proper strength. These pots are still renowned for their unique designs and techniques, some of which cannot be duplicated due to modern technology and environmental law. One of the most ideal materials in traditional bonsai culture is porcelain so thin it is translucent; these pots are fragile yet their material is one of the hardest ceramics made, creating a balancing aesthetic dichotomy.


  • Mississippi has a very devoted community of bonsai cultivators including bonsai ceramics authority Michael Ryan Bell, who was our guest speaker