The Traditional bonsai display is by nature “traditional”. The display consists of 4 specific items: a bonsai tree and display table, an accent piece, and a scroll. While the focal point of the display is the bonsai tree itself, the other items compliment the tree. The overall feel of the display provides an intellectual and mental display.
Harmony is the overall theme or emotion in the traditional bonsai display. Frequently, the display is physically housed in an area framed by three walls, i.e. a niche. The background walls should be neutral, avoiding white as the color would be too bright to compliment the display. The items included in the display should not be randomly selected or placed. Each item is considered based upon its overall feel and harmony with the emotion of the scene. Finally, the items are placed in a triangular formation; the fundamental central point will remain the bonsai tree.
Bonsai Tree As Primary Feature
The primary or focal piece of the traditional bonsai display is the bonsai tree. Regardless of the value of the scroll (either authentic or purchased at a discount store), the tree is always the primary feature. The tree chosen should have the quality enabling it to be displayed alone. Experts might select a plant with a particular significance or beauty for the season. Once the tree has been selected, consider repotting the tree into a suitable pot for the display. The focus of the display is on the bonsai tree, not the pot. The color of the pot should be subtle and compliment the overall feel of the display. The pot should be sized according to the type of tree being displayed.
Shoku – Bonsai Stand
The bonsai tree is placed on a bonsai stand or table called a ‘shoku’. The color or material of the stand should blend into the overall harmonious feel of the display. While there are no definite rules for the material from which the stand is made, consider using Rosewood or Mahogany. However, if you are displaying an azalea or flowering specimen, consider using a light colored wood such as bamboo. The height of the stand depends upon the height of the tree. A traditional display is arranged so viewers are not looking down upon the bonsai. The bonsai is placed so the eye can easily distinguish the trun, and appreciate its beauty.
The Accent Piece
The accent item is an important selection and must enhance the overall display. The piece should reinforce the feeling of season, or landscape, etc. which the display depicts. The accent item can be placed on a stand, however, the bonsai tree must remain the dominate feature of the overall scene. The purpose of the accent piece is not to bring color to the scene but to enhance the overall harmony.
The final selection for the display is the scroll. The purchase of an original silk scroll is not feasible for the average bonsai expert as they may cost millions of dollars. Many Asian décor stores offer multiple options at a reasonable cost. This item should be selected to continue the theme of harmony. If your overall feeling is one of landscape, then the scroll might be a simple painting of a mountain.