If you have spent anytime with us you know that we love small things with the exception of our three Labrador retrievers. We have collected many small pots some of very high quality and some – well not so good. I spend about 30-60 minutes per day scouring the many Japanese web sites where we purchase pots and things and anytime there is a high quality or attractive item we contemplate acquiring it for our collection.
We have collected small pots, stands, dobans, suibans and small bronze objects that can accompany bonsai or suiseki displays. Partly as a way to document it for ourselves (insurance purposes) and partly to share with you our readers, we thought it might be fun to post 4-5 articles on these objects. So here we go.
Diminutive Bonsai Pots
The above bonsai pots are all made by Bunzan with the largest barely 5cm. One might ask why purchase these pots at all – well the answer is that we think they are beautifully made. Will we use them? Maybe, but maybe not.
We find that making small things is very difficult. One must have the right balance and when photographed and viewed without a frame of reference it is nearly impossible to determine its actual size. Sounds wonderfully characteristic of great bonsai doesn’t it?
We also love small bronze or copper works.
Small Bronze and Copper Works
Frankly there is a lot of small bronze and copper objects that frankly aren’t worth the asking price. Then there are some that become almost priceless works of art. One of the most well known and collectible artists is Wakahara Eisho (1890-1971) in this category of miniature accessories; more on Eisho in the post about these accessories.
Others like Eisho, including Harada Houn (bronze dobans) before World War II tended to make larger objects; however, after the war due to the economy they turned to making small bronze castings to sell locally at a price that people could afford.
For today let us start with a few stands. There are upright stands, root stands, jiitas, etc.
Small stand made from Ebony (11cm)
One might ask what you do with a 11cm (~4 inches) stand? Well how about using it for a 8cm suiseki?
Small stand with suiseki (toyama-ishi or distant mountain) 8cm.
We love this small suiseki. For those of you who collect, you know how very difficult it is to find small suiseki much less find excellent small suiseki. We view this stone as falling into the later category – excellent! Some might complain the mountain peak is a bit too far left but frankly we don’t object to its placement as this stone simply resembles a mountainous area with many craggy peaks. This stone sets the imagination on fire and allows us to gaze at it just thinking what it would be to climb this mountain just to see the view.
Many bonsai in Japan are displayed on root stands. There are a few natural root stands with prices as high as a mountain top and then many are carved by master wood carvers. We have eight root stands in our collection and these are the two smallest.
Root stands both 8cm tall.
These root stands even though the same in height seem quite different due to their width. We use them in the house to display small bonsai pots.
Root Stand and Small Bonsai Pot
The small mame bonsai pot perched atop this root stand was purchased at Kokufu in 2008. A beautifully hand drawn scene reminiscent of those drawn by Tsukinowa Yusen (月之輪湧泉).
The difficulty in many of the carved root stands is that the top is relatively small and therefore what can be displayed narrows into a very small category of objects.
Jiitas in Japanese Quince.
The Jiita, or what I would describe as a wooden slab, come in many shapes, sizes and colors. We like to use these for displaying pots, bronzes and other items.
Jiita in Japanese Quince with superb burl.
The workman ship is excellent and we think the addition of the edge treatment exemplifies the artist ability to work in wood. With jiitas of this quality they are often signed by the artist. This one is no exception.
Signed Jiita (~16cm)
Jiita in Japanese Quince almost orange in color (26cm)
This jiita almost doesn’t qualify for small at 26cm but is included as we use it to display both pots or as pictured above a bronze tiger. We have seen very few of this color but we do enjoy its beauty.
Small round jiitas in Japanese Quince (15, 12, 10 cm)
We often see these in rosewood but rarely have we seen them in Japanese Quince with burl. We found these while doing a Google search a few weeks ago at the Kitakanto Bonsai Association web site and Yoshi was kind enough to acquire them for us.
Japanese Quince round jiita.
Very nice color and burl texture. We use these for pots and small bronzes.
Japanese Quince Jiita with Tofukuji (平安東福寺) unglazed pot.
We think this jiita accompanied by the Tofukuji pot makes a perfect marriage for display.
Chinese stand in Chinese Quince
This stand was a gift from Jeffrey our friend who travels often to China. This is an old stand with a small crack but we believe it adds to the character of the stand.
Chinese stand with a Daisuke pot.
We love this combination of stand and pot. Both elegant and useful.
Well our last stand today is also the smallest.
A tiny stand (3cm) with a Jim Barrett pot.
We purchased this Jim Barrett pot at a local bonsai show and then it took another two years to find a stand that it would fit on! Could one possibly put something in this pot – perhaps but it would need to be very small.
We have many more small stands in our collection but these are a good representative sample. We sincerely appreciate craftsmen that take the time to create such small but beautiful works of art. Don’t you?
Our next post will concentrate on small bronze dobans and accessories. Till then we hope all of you have a Merry Christmas!