Tips on Viewing: When viewing a bonsai display, you will notice three elements: the tree, an accent item (usually a stone or plant) and the stand (called a "dai"). These three items should harmonize to form a triangle, with the highest point being the top of the tree. The accent item will be placed to the left or the right of the tree and will form the furthest point of the triangle. Bonsai are never displayed sitting directly on the display surface.
The tree itself will present either a single triangle or set of triangle shaped features. The highest point of the triangle is, in most cases, the top of the tree (called the "apex"). The right and left points of the triangle are formed by the first and second branches (the two branches closest to the ground). Most of the basic styles follow this general rule. When viewing the displays, see if you can find the triangles.
Other features to look for are good, strong, visible roots (nebari), a gentle movement and taper in the trunk (tachi-agari), a distinct apex, and well developed branches and foliage. The trunk should have a good taper, with good root formation visible at soil level. Branches should be larger at the bottom of the tree and decrease in size as they near the top. The distance between the branches should decrease as they near the top of the tree. There should be negative (open) areas between the branches to give the impression of a tree rather than a shrub. A bonsai may have areas of dead wood to give an impression of age. To fully appreciate bonsai, get down to the level of the tree and look up into it much as you would look at a tree in nature.
Labels: bonsai tips