Book Review – Literati Style Penjing

“Penjing (literally “tray scenery”) is the art of creating miniature potted landscapes using tees and other plants. The art form, brought from China to Japan in ancient times, is now popular throughout the world”

Literati Style Penjing by Zhao Qingquan
Author: Zhao Qingquan
160 pages
Published 2015

Book Review – Literati Style Penjing

“The term “literati style penjing” refers to the elite scholar-bureaucrats of imperial China. The literati class was well educated and versed in art, leaving a profound mark on many art forms, including painting, poetry and gardening. Their preference for stark, expressive and graceful forms led to the development of literati style penjing, which feature lean, long trunks along with sparse foliage.

Other vital influences were the Chinese philosophical traditions of Confucianism, Taoism and Chan (Zen Buddhism). Concepts such as serenity, the mystic void and minimalism, which are important to these traditions, also find their expression in works of literati penjing.

Therefore a literati penjing, with its pared-back structure may appear simple, but it carries layers of subtle meaning, melding concepts from Chinese art and philosophy into a stunning bonsai work. The implementation of these concepts is revealed in the book’s twelve literati style penjing creations by renowned master Zhao Qingquan, which incorporate a deep knowledge of the art form together with practical creativity and artistic beauty.”

–Excerpts from the inside cover.

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