On the above thread the following was asked:
is there a resource I may turn to which discusses displays styles? I have spent an exhaustive amount of time looking for this information but have found a lot of convoluted information out there.
I wanted to spend this post explaining my feelings and experiences with display. Initially, when I read some articles on display from Golden Statements or other sources I was also utterly confused. So I did a search to find information on displaying bonsai formally in a Toko no Ma or a Seki Kazari.
What I learned is that there are many different organizations or schools of thought promoted by individuals. In a personal discussion with Mr. Shimazu from CA at the 2011 GSBF convention he stated he did not like display in general because it was so much based on the individual that was promoting their way of doing something.
I still felt I needed to be more in tune with what a bonsai artist may want in a scroll that I still pursued learning about it on my own. The two main display organizations I was able to learn about were Keidou and Gaddou (景道・雅道） According to my understanding, Keidou was founded by a Mr. Uhaku Sudou [It was clarified that Mr. Ichiu Katayama is the actual founder of Keidou]...and Gadou which actually traces it's lineage to concepts of Keidou by a Mr. Ichiu Katayama [It was clarified that Mr. Ichiu Yamamoto is the founder of Gadou]. It is also my understanding that Keidou is no longer actively taught as a display style in Japan.
I think that is the first point individuals studying display need to be aware of, is that there is also conflicting ideas about what rules should be applied for a display within Japan, and certain characteristics or ways of doing will be promoted or encouraged depending on the display style.
Keidou principles/ideals have benefited greatly from some very notable and talented US bonsai/Suiseki professionals going over and learning directly from the founders of their system. So many people have nuggets of wisdom to disseminate.
My second point is that is exactly why to me there is convoluted information. No one has actually taken the time to concisely and clearly consolidate these display guidelines into a book with step by step instructions on how to organize a display. I also consider this a problem with the Lost in Translation concept. You know the movie, director screaming because the actor's emotion is not correct, changes it after being told and yet still not correct in the hundreds of retakes...What one person heard in Japan that is a set in stone rule, may actually be a general guideline that is encouraged and not actually practiced in every display...and vice versa.
What is the reason for creating a formal display? I guess the answer would vary depending on the circumstance. Contests? shows? Notoriety?
This is my third point is that very few bonsai artists in the US just create a display just for the fun of it and for their own individual pleasure...So few displays created that when one comes up it is critiqued 'ad nauseum' with all the "rules" that we may or may not know that now this person is discouraged from ever setting up another formal display ever again. Have fun, do it often and enjoy it.
Now I am going to share some of the things that I have learned in my Study of Gaddou:
1. It always starts with the tree. This is not about having the most refined showstopping bonsai, this is about having the correct species of tree with the correct styling that is the focal point of an overall story or scene in nature.
2. Define the formality of first the species and styling of the tree and then blend every other piece (pot, stand/jiita, accent, scroll) to complement that ranking definition.
3. Focus on "Cultural Storytelling" Create a display that speaks to your heart, something you can relate with as an individual. I see a lot of 'soulless' displays that just try to mimic something Japanese...If you have not lived in Japan it is very difficult to recreate the spirit of the moment...Am I saying if you have not lived there it can't be done? Absolutely not! You may have seen a picture of a Japanese scene that gave you an epiphany and affected you on a spiritual level and you would like to recreate that scene, feeling or mood. I guarantee your display will not be 'soulless' even though you have never been to Japan. I guess that is why so many moon and waterfall scrolls get used for display, easy to relate with as a subject matter. Go revisit my post on a display I created, it had some very deep meaning to me, but the general Japanese population can not relate to this display. The reason is deeply rooted in "Cultural Storytelling"!http://bonsainut.com/forums/showthre...Bonsai-Display
4. "Asobi no Kokoro" A main point advocated by Gaddou is to be lighthearted. Taking things too seriously and trying to adhere to every single guideline will ruin your enjoyment of setting up the display and the mood of the scene will be altered by your state of mind when setting up the display. What is more important the process or the end result? That is why I like this display, I could feel the general lightheartedness reflected in the poster.http://bonsainut.com/forums/showthre...Shohin-Display
Well if you could stand to read through all of that you deserve a medal, and if you need/want help or have questions send a PM...
Thursday, January 16, 2014
Traditional Japanese Bonsai Display Styles
I recently wrote a long post on a bonsai forum about some of the different display schools in Japan that I am aware of for bonsai. Here are some excerpts of that post.