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Chinese big on miniatures too

A view of Charlotte Walby’s collection.

A view of Charlotte Walby’s collection.

Richard Wright

[email protected]

Tuesday, November 14, 2017 - 13:30

My article of several weeks ago mentioning bonsai brought abig response.

Ian York sent me a photograph of his magnificent quince,which he reckons must be about 30 years old and flowers every year.

Richard Walby sent me some photographs of his wife, Charlotte’scollection — or some of them at least.

Richard and Charlotte used to own a bonsai tree nursery onthe mainland, importing them by the container load from China and Japan.

Those he photographed were from China, where the art form iscalled Penjing.

I did not realise the Chinese were so big on this tiny artform — and did it so well — and that in Vietnam and many other countries thereare versions of the fascinating practice of miniaturisation.

Penjing, or penzai as they are also known, literally means alandscape or scenery on a tray. It mostly involves creating beautiful snapshotsof a landscape in miniature.

The art form is both extreme and perfect with each rock andpebble, plant and undulation chosen for its contribution to the overall effect.

And they are immaculately tended.

Penjing arrangements have more latitude and variety than themore formal Japanese bonsai, which occupy the traditional low-sided containersdesigned to focus the eye on what is growing within and not detract from thecarefully crafted form achieved with wires and pruning.

 


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