Oriental art forms related to bonsai are varied and numerous. Some are used directly, such as rocks, figurines and plants.
You may see them placed as compliments and companions with bonsai trees on display. Others are attractive to bonsai people because of their passion for all things Oriental.
Therefore, many things such as ikebana are considered as "related to bonsai." Despite the fact they are rarely used together, they do have many of the same design guidelines.
Japanese scrolls are an every day part of displaying bonsai and other oriental art forms such as ikebana, in Japan.
Whether it is at home (as shown here in this Japanese tokonoma) or a formal exhibit, scrolls have a place of honor.
Today, many Westerners include these alcove arrangements in their homes.
"The tokonoma first appeared in the late Muromachi period (14th-16th century). In the shoin style architecture of this period, it was called oshiita and basically was a wall space where scrolls would be hung and a raised dais in front of this would be for setting an incense burner, vase for flowers, and candle holder." - Wikipedia
In formal bonsai exhibits, you will frequently find scrolls included.
There are very specific guidelines about the types and placement.
The example shown here is of a formal display in a California exhibit.
Bonsai companion or accent plants are much more than little plants stuck in a pot.
See more accent/complimentary plantings and the bronzes that are also used as companions in a display.
The companion shown here is a unique combination of both bronzes and a plant.
"The ability to communicate different meanings to viewers in different regions of the world is an important aspect of stone appreciation."
- Dr. Thomas Elias
Like so many Oriental art forms, the description of suiseki begins with "As an art form it began in China between 1,000 and 2,000 years ago ... "
Today, the appreciation of stones is worldwide. Some look like waterfalls, flowers or even animals. Others are simply representations of nature's amazing beauty.
The mountain stone shown above is from Sumatra, Indonesia. It is displayed in a suiban container with sand. (Suiban are containers without holes, used for both Suiseki and Ikebana.)
One of the most unique stone patterns is perhaps the chrysanthemum. At first glance you may think this design must be man-made. They are not. The dark limestone contains naturally formed calcite patterns, which resemble chrysanthemum flowers.
(At one time, the chrysanthemum was the official symbol of the Chinese imperial family. Many, even today, consider this stone to have metaphysical healing properties.)
As shown here, many traditional suiseki are placed in a wood display holder. The Japanese word for this stand that supports, balances and presents a viewing stone is daiza. Daiza are often hand carved to perfectly fit a particular stone.
Thank you to Dr. Thomas S. Elias and the Viewing Stone Association of North America for the suiseki pictures shown here.
The VSANA site contains history, descriptions and pages and pages of stones from around the world. Be sure to see their 'Stone of the Month.'
"Ikebana is the Japanese art of flower arrangement. It is more than simply putting flowers in a container. It is a disciplined art form in which the arrangement is a living thing where nature and humanity are brought together.
It is steeped in the philosophy of developing a closeness with nature."
Source - Ikebana International
There are many 'schools' of ikebana.
You will find the many rules of design are not unlike those of bonsai.
Just about the time you think you have an understanding of this Oriental art form, there are surprises such as this uniquely beautiful arrangement.
Japanese Gardens involve much more than placing a few stone lanterns.
This YouTube presentation of 'How to Design a Japanese Garden: Part 1' gives a beautiful description of the various components of Japanese Gardens.
Although considered related to bonsai, and the trees may have similar shapes, however notice there are no bonsai in the garden.
A different type of garden is used for displaying bonsai.
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