Penjing: Magnificent, Mountainous, Miniature Landscapes 盆景 - Eva Varga

May 21, 2012

When my mother came down to visit us last week, we were eager to show her around some of our favorite locales, one of which was Turtle Bay.  It was here that we stumbled into an ancient world – one we previously were not familiar.

Welcome to the ancient world of penjing. It’s a place where a lone, wind-blown tree grows meditatively from the side of a rocky cliff. Where the stunning beauty of Chinese landscapes have been captured in their grandest element and then, through an ancient art and the touch of a master gardener, reduced to a size that fits on a table.

Penjing (pronounced “pen jin”) is an art form that dates back more than 1200 years, evidence of penjing is depicted on the walls of the tomb of a Tang Dynasty prince from the Shanxi region of China.  This ancient art form is similar to bonsai, the art of dwarfing trees and shaping them, but differs from it by incorporating intricate outdoor vistas.  In its finest form, penjing became a scholarly art like poetry, calligraphy, painting, and gardening.

Sculpted by Chinese penjing master Qiao Hong Gen, the pieces pictured here were amongst the eleven pint-sized masterpieces on exhibit in Turtle Bay’s McConnell Arbortetum & Botanical Gardens.  As we wandered about the gardens between our usual lessons, we marveled at the miniature landscapes.  Sweetie evan stated she wouldlike to give this form of expression a try herself.

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