Image: Bonsai “Shinpai, courtesy of © Nippon Bonsai Association, Japan
Bonsai is a miniature tree grown in a pot that is given extensive care. It became popular in Japan during the Middle Ages, and became a household hobby in the Edo Era (1603-1868).
Much like Ikebana, Bonsai attempts to capture the gist of nature without reaping it.
Whereas Ikebana used the technique of subtraction, Bonsai attempts to condensate the essence of nature to the size that is apprehendable and manageable by humans. I am using the word “apprehendable” because capturing something physically (in your hand) directly affects your ability to understand the object. When you apprehend something using your entire body, your understanding becomes deeper than understanding it only conceptually.
Nature is overwhelmingly big. It’s uncontrollable by humans. Instead of trying to intervene and alter it, Bonsai attempts to create man’s own micro cosmos by condensing its beauty – to an apprehendable size.