Covering Drain Holes

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Covering Drain Holes

Post  Billy M. Rhodes on Wed Feb 01, 2012 1:01 pm

I was looking at this picture I took last fall during a visit to the nursery of a Japanese Master. I think it is an old Chinese pot. But the question came to me. How did they cover the hole to keep soil from draining out? I know at one time I might have used a piece of broken pottery to cover smaller holes, but one this size?

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Re: Covering Drain Holes

Post  Russell Coker on Wed Feb 01, 2012 1:36 pm



My understanding is that they'd make a lattice screen from strips of bamboo to cover those big holes.

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Re: Covering Drain Holes

Post  Storm on Wed Feb 01, 2012 2:37 pm

Hi!
I've used some screen to put in my pots. Instead of cutting them into smaller pieces, you could just leave it the size of the pot, and it wont move away..

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Re: Covering Drain Holes

Post  Poink88 on Wed Feb 01, 2012 2:46 pm

Russell Coker wrote:

My understanding is that they'd make a lattice screen from strips of bamboo to cover those big holes.
If that is true...then it is crazy! I know bamboo is tough but still organic. Why bother with a solution for a problem that can be eliminated to begin with? (having smaller holes) Confused There must be reasons for those hole sizes and how they address them that we are not aware of now.

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Re: Covering Drain Holes

Post  Billy M. Rhodes on Wed Feb 01, 2012 3:05 pm

Storm wrote:Hi!
I've used some screen to put in my pots. Instead of cutting them into smaller pieces, you could just leave it the size of the pot, and it wont move away..

This pot is from Old China, the screen we use was not available to them, that why I asked the question.

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Re: Covering Drain Holes

Post  Russell Coker on Wed Feb 01, 2012 3:11 pm



Crazy, but true. Remember that a lot of old pots like this started life as incense burners.

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Re: Covering Drain Holes

Post  William N. Valavanis on Wed Feb 01, 2012 3:46 pm

Russell, yes, your are correct. Many of the oldest Chinese bonsai containers were originally used as incense burners and bulb forcing bowls. They had holes drilled in for water drainage AND air circulation to the roots.

Most had small, proportional holes in the bottom of the containers. A good number can also be seen with huge drainage holes. But why? That's and excellent question!

The two most knowledgeable bonsai container dealers, Kunio Kobayashi and Seiji Morimae are in the Tokyo area, and fortunately I know both well. I'll ask both of them the same question in a few days when I meet them. It will be interesting to see their response.

At first when I read this thread I thought what a stupid question, but now it interests me greatly and I can learn something new and valuable for my background.

Of course, I'll share the answer(s) as soon as I get them.

Bill

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Re: Covering Drain Holes

Post  Sam Ogranaja on Wed Feb 01, 2012 7:26 pm

William N. Valavanis wrote:Russell, yes, your are correct. Many of the oldest Chinese bonsai containers were originally used as incense burners and bulb forcing bowls. They had holes drilled in for water drainage AND air circulation to the roots.

Most had small, proportional holes in the bottom of the containers. A good number can also be seen with huge drainage holes. But why? That's and excellent question!

The two most knowledgeable bonsai container dealers, Kunio Kobayashi and Seiji Morimae are in the Tokyo area, and fortunately I know both well. I'll ask both of them the same question in a few days when I meet them. It will be interesting to see their response.

At first when I read this thread I thought what a stupid question, but now it interests me greatly and I can learn something new and valuable for my background.

Of course, I'll share the answer(s) as soon as I get them.

Bill

Bill, you are very lucky and I must admit that in this instance.....I am very jealous. Have a great time in Tokyo. Feel free to post as many pictures as you want. Smile

Sam

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Re: Covering Drain Holes

Post  Todd Ellis on Thu Feb 02, 2012 4:31 am

Bill et al,
I would be interested in knowing how "they" burned incense in the pots. Why would one need a large hole for incense? To discard the ashes easily? Also, if incense was burned in some of these pots wouldn't there be burn marks or smoke stains on the inside of the pots?
Todd

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Re: Covering Drain Holes

Post  Bruce Winter on Thu Feb 02, 2012 5:21 am

On page 87 of "Bonsai---Miniature Potted Trees. Tourist library Vol. 13 published in 1951, there is reference to the "eyes" of the pot. And little earthen ware discs with holes called "eye lids." I've also read of plant fiber being used. Coconut and palm.

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Re: Covering Drain Holes

Post  Billy M. Rhodes on Thu Feb 02, 2012 8:32 am

Bruce Winter wrote:On page 87 of "Bonsai---Miniature Potted Trees. Tourist library Vol. 13 published in 1951, there is reference to the "eyes" of the pot. And little earthen ware discs with holes called "eye lids." I've also read of plant fiber being used. Coconut and palm.

I have also seen the "eyelids" but they would not cover a large hole such as this one. Palm fiber might work if as was suggested earlier it were woven into some kind of mat.

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Re: Covering Drain Holes

Post  Russell Coker on Thu Feb 02, 2012 1:17 pm



I had forgotten about those eyelid things. I don't know if they were used in the old Chinese pots like the one in question, but I do know that they are made for those tall fancy dragon pots the Japanese used for growing fancy orchids (Cymbidiums) and rohdeas (Rohdea japonica). For a pot like this with such a big hole I would think that something made of palm fiber would sag from the weight on top of it
.
Todd, the pots were filled with sand or fine gravel and they stand the incense sticks upright in them. You'll see this in pictures of shrines and temples as offerings. Nothing really "burns" with a hot flame, they are small and really just smoke.

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Re: Covering Drain Holes

Post  Billy M. Rhodes on Thu Feb 02, 2012 2:48 pm

.
Todd, the pots were filled with sand or fine gravel and they stand the incense sticks upright in them. You'll see this in pictures of shrines and temples as offerings. Nothing really "burns" with a hot flame, they are small and really just smoke.

I have seen that in Japan, China and Israel. That still leaves the question about what kept the sand or gravel in the pot.

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Re: Covering Drain Holes

Post  Russell Coker on Thu Feb 02, 2012 3:07 pm




Billy M. Rhodes wrote:That still leaves the question about what kept the sand or gravel in the pot.


Oh, I thought we'd solved that - the woven bamboo screen or the eyelid thingies.

I might add that I've seen the bamboo screens in action. My boss had lots of those old pots with those big holes, and one of the OLD guys would split the bamboo and make the lattice (for lack of a better word) screen that fit into the bottom of the pot. When I asked why go to so much trouble instead of using a wire mesh I was told it was "inappropriate" (respect the ancient pot, tradition and all that). Even with the weight of the tree and soil, and daily watering, the bamboo is surprisingly durable. A layer of course material went in first, with finer soil on top of that. Some of the pots had almost no bottom at all, mostly hole.

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Re: Covering Drain Holes

Post  Storm on Thu Feb 02, 2012 9:47 pm

"This pot is from Old China, the screen we use was not available to them, that why I asked the question."
Apologies Billy, I misread the question.

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Re: Covering Drain Holes

Post  William N. Valavanis on Sat Feb 11, 2012 3:36 pm

I just asked the top three container authorities in Japan about the large drainage holes.

The antique containers with very large drainage holes were originally incense burners for outdoor use in cemeteries. Bamboo lattice was placed over the holes then small pebbles and another layer of even smaller pebbles. Then ash was used to fill the incense burner and they were put outside in the cemeteries. The large holes are for water drainage. Those containers were NOT made for bonsai. Antique Chinese bonsai containers had small holes, not large holes. So, when you see such a container remember that it was NOT originally used for bonsai. I wonder if the Japanese raided the Chinese cemeteries searching for those containers.

I was told it's difficult to use the large hole containers because they drain too quickly for certain species so what they do is to put a couple of layers of drainage screen over the holes.

So we all now know why there are large holes in some antique containers used for bonsai.

Bill


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Re: Covering Drain Holes

Post  Russell Coker on Sat Feb 11, 2012 6:24 pm



And thanks for confirming everything I've already said!

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