Friday, January 17, 2014

Japanese Bonsai Displays with Scrolls

I was posed a question on bonsai display on a forum where one poster stated hesitation to use a person in the painting of a scroll...
Now a question about the scroll. What is your thinking about introducing a "man" image in a scroll used for bonsai? Since traditional formal bonsai display in a Tokonoma (alchove) is based on three point concepts (Japanese Trilogy) of Man, Heaven and Earth. With the tree being "man" the scroll heaven and the accent earth, wouldn't a man in the scroll be redundent?
This was my reply.
I guess that would go back to the argument in my previous thread about differences between Keidou and Gadou display. Perhaps, Metaxis san studied under the Keidou style...I have never met her, but heard many good things about her knowledge of display.

I am travelling at the moment and do not have access to my files or books, but I remember two examples of displays in the Gaddou book that utilize travelers/person in the scrolls of the display...Also, nowhere in the Gadou kyouhon (teaching books) have I ever come across reading about the Man, Heaven, Earth idea...(Not saying that it does not exist in Gadou...but I have not come across it) When I get back and have time I will try to show those displays and translate meanings. 

I promised some displays with scrolls that have man images in them. Here is one.

Click image for larger version. 

Name: Lake Biwa.jpg 
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ID: 46838Click image for larger version. 

Name: Winter Sanyasou 1.jpg 
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ID: 46836Click image for larger version. 

Name: Winter Sanyasou 1 Revised.jpg 
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The original display is on the left and the critiqued display redone is on the right. Translation by myself is attached.
I was born in Shiga Ken, and I became acquainted with the scenery around lake Biwa (Biwako) It was a joyful place to play among the reeds near the lakeside. Protections and preservation of the lakeshore is continuing, but due to drainage and development the water quality has declined and pollution has reduced the number of reeds around the shoreline, lessening the beauty of the scenery.
This display was created from a childhood scene etched in my memory. Viewing from the reeeds, I could see a fisherman in the far distance. It was a late winter that year, but the anticipation of spring was at the door, so the reeds were still dry but ready to blossom for spring. It made me think of the following poem.比良八荒荒れ仕舞 Hirahakko Are Shimai The end of the storm that brings the cold wind in February on Lake Biwa.
In order to complete the scene with the standing dry reeds, I used a wallscroll with a fisherman and a long formal rectangular lacquered jiita to give the impression of the viewer of seeing this from the lakeshore. The plan of using this jiita was probably a little too hard, but I thought it would work. Always Sensei’s advice is to have a scroll that transports one into the scene. Use of thin objects is best and become transparent to the viewer. With the standing reeds as the main object, I think it achieved a more than elegant taste. In displaying with Shouhin it takes a playful heart and you can display with inexpensive pieces. These qualities also allows the layperson to have a chance at using their heart to display their story. However, elegant displays attach themselves to the foundation but stops short of conceitedness. It has a hint of spirit in the display. Not just the tree or grass plantings or pot, but all the elements of the tools and the artisans work is in the display to create the entire spirit of atmosphere. Because of that one must have understanding, touch, and joy in the heart to create a display. I want to have the heart to share my display so that others will have a spring of joy come to them and a deeper appreciation of nature.

This Seki Kazari does an excellent job of telling the intentions of the scene, however, the main planting I feel screams a little bit of impudence, haughtiness or is uncharacteristic. Almost all grass plantings dry out from the fall to winter, and because it is common, but shows good workmanship for the look necessary for the Sanyasou.
Using the original jiita for the lake shoreline was OK, but it does not convey the feeling of cold that is associated with the cold wind storm in February, nor does it match the painting. This type of jiita seems to step on the excellent display of the stalks of reeds. The miginagare hidarikatte setup concentrates the display, and expands it in the inner working of having a sense of semi formal. The lines of the rectangle jiita are too strong, and this jiita would work better for a summer scene. Also by changing this into a suiban and using a natural shaped jiita, the display becomes more settled. By making these changes, it gives consideration and attention and the display is abbreviated and simplified.

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