How It Might Have Started

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How It Might Have Started

Post  Robert J. Baran on Sun Jan 10, 2010 5:14 pm

A few thoughts on how all this might have started way back when, http://www.phoenixbonsai.com/BigPicture/PossibleStarts.html .

I'm also very interested in other scenarios, folks.

Thanks.

Robert J. Baran
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Re: How It Might Have Started

Post  Jim Doiron on Mon Jan 11, 2010 12:29 am

I seem to remember reading another hypothesis somewhere that they started with doctors keeping potted plants for a fresh medicinal source and the constant trimming constituted a clip n' grow method. It seems to make sense to me since early doctors were so often botanists since pharmacists didn't exists so they would have had some practical horticultural skills as well. But then I know nothing really of Chinese history and even less of Chinese medical history so take it for what it's worth.

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Re: How It Might Have Started

Post  John Quinn on Mon Jan 11, 2010 1:06 am

Jim Doiron wrote:I seem to remember reading another hypothesis somewhere that they started with doctors keeping potted plants for a fresh medicinal source and the constant trimming constituted a clip n' grow method. It seems to make sense to me since early doctors were so often botanists since pharmacists didn't exists so they would have had some practical horticultural skills as well. But then I know nothing really of Chinese history and even less of Chinese medical history so take it for what it's worth.

I recall similar theories having to do with the development of Ayurvedic medicine, which relied heavily on herbal and plant based medicines, in India about 2000BC. Subsequently, the practice was introduced into China by Buddhist monks.

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Re: How It Might Have Started

Post  JimLewis on Mon Jan 11, 2010 2:43 am

That was in one of Peter Chan's older books, wasn't it?

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How It Might Have Started

Post  Robert J. Baran on Mon Jan 11, 2010 4:04 am

I specifically left that option out based on the info in Will Heath's article, "Babylon: The Origin of Bonsai?"
http://www.phoenixbonsai.com/OtherArchived/Babylon.pdf , in particular pages 4-5 which state that the long tradition of herbalist material transport has been consistently as dried plant parts, not as potted specimens.

Could the herbalists at home, though, have noticed the dwarfing of some plants after a few years of container housing? The transmission of that observation from a distant land or its native discovery applied into making miniature landscapes seems a bit of a stretch. At least compared with the other options I suggest. (The statement of the Indian President in the 1960s that dwarf trees originated in India based on Ayurvedic science before the twelfth century C.E. is too little documented at this stage to include here.)

Now, did the idea of dwarf potted trees get transferred from very large "containerized"? trees in Babylon's Hanging Gardens c.600 B.C.E. to China, where the earliest-known graphic is from twelve hundred years later? I find that difficult to grasp on the basis that we have no evidence, so far, of the concept being in stasis or developed anywhere during all those interim years. I suppose it is very remotely possible that one of the early Greek reports from the first century B.C.E. ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanging_Gardens_of_Babylon ) found its way in translation to China where it was studied. But, again, the idea from a distant foreign land of roof-top trees probably would have been rendered in some other architectural/horticultural fashion in ancient China than as tray trees.

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Re: How It Might Have Started

Post  John Quinn on Mon Jan 11, 2010 4:08 am

The only Peter Chan book I have is Bonsai Masterclass and it is not discussed there in any detail. However, Deborah Koreshoff's book, Bonsai- Its Art, Science, History and Philosophy , has a good section on possible origins of bonsai and it is mentioned there.
The reference in the Koreshoff book is likely the same one mentioned in the above post relating to statements by a past president of India which report a practice of "Vaamantanu Vrikshaadi Vidya", or the science of dwarfing trees as related to their putative healing powers.

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Re: How It Might Have Started

Post  Joe Hatfield on Tue Jan 12, 2010 5:28 am

The first bonsai I had ever made were to copy ones that grey outside my window. At that point I didn't know I was creating "bonsai" I don't think I really knew what it was at that point.

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Re: How It Might Have Started

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