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  • Safe shopping with PayPal
  • Free shipping over EUR 100
  • Shipping across Europe
  • Bonsai Doctor - Contact us if your Bonsai is facing issues (info@goldenbonsai.de)

#04: Bonsai Presentation Tables - for a harmonious and credible presentation of a bonsai

What are Bonsai Presentation Tables?

Bonsai presentation tables are flat, rectangular, or round tables, usually small in size, on which bonsais are placed in their pots to enhance the presentation of the bonsai. Typically, a bonsai on a bonsai presentation table is part of an overall display along with other exhibition items such as an accent plant or a scroll painting. Such a comprehensive presentation is traditionally done in Japan within a tokonoma, which is a decorative alcove in the home. Nowadays, you can often see such presentations at bonsai exhibitions worldwide.

In such a comprehensive presentation, it's not only about selecting the individual exhibited items like the bonsai, bonsai presentation table, accent plant, or scroll painting but also about the interaction between the chosen items. The goal is to achieve harmony among the various objects.

The exhibiting artist aims to convey a story to the viewer through the overall composition without the need for additional verbal explanations. The entire composition should speak for itself. In a way, it leaves room for the viewer's imagination to develop a story from the individual objects. Surprisingly, it has been shown that there are often similarities in these individual stories across different viewers, even without them exchanging thoughts. In such cases, one can speak of a successful presentation.

What is the role of a Bonsai Presentation Table?

The role of a bonsai presentation table (hereafter referred to as "bonsai table" for simplicity) is to enhance the presentation of the bonsai and draw the viewer's attention to it. The bonsai table should act discreetly and not compete with the bonsai for the viewer's attention within the context of a comprehensive presentation with bonsai, accent plant, and possibly other exhibition items. The bonsai table should harmoniously complement the overall composition and support the artist's message without drawing too much attention to itself.

What is the right bonsai presentation table for my bonsai?

The selection of the right bonsai table for a particular bonsai can be considered under two essential aspects: harmony and credibility.

Firstly, the bonsai table should harmoniously complement the bonsai. This involves choosing the right size for the bonsai table, the wood's color or grain, the design of the table legs, and the overall appearance of the bonsai table. Additionally, one should consider the concept of "male" and "female" in bonsai or bonsai tables according to traditional Japanese teachings.

Secondly, the combination of bonsai and bonsai table should appear credible to the viewer. Credibility is achieved when the viewer feels that the bonsai table can realistically support the weight of the bonsai without collapsing under its weight. The representation should appear plausible to the viewer.

The Harmony between Bonsai and Bonsai Table

What combination of bonsai and bonsai table appears particularly harmonious ultimately depends on the viewer or the bonsai artist's perspective. However, the following considerations are structured guidelines to weigh various aspects and achieve the most harmonious combination of bonsai and bonsai table:

(1) Size of the bonsai table:

The size of the bonsai table should be chosen so that the bonsai can be placed centrally in its pot on the table, leaving a margin around the pot on the bonsai table's surface. This margin should exist on both sides and in front and behind the bonsai pot. The free space around the bonsai pot should neither be too small nor too large. The exact size of this margin depends on the bonsai table's size and the bonsai pot. Many bonsai tables have a division of the surface into an inner area and an outer frame surrounding the inner area. In such cases, the bonsai should be placed within the inner area. If the bonsai pot is within the inner area and there is still considerable space left within the inner area, a smaller bonsai table should be considered. Personal aesthetic judgment plays a significant role in determining the right size and appropriate margin width.

(2) Wood color or grain of the bonsai table:

Harmony between the wood or color of the bonsai table and the bonsai can be achieved in two ways. Firstly, you can look for a similarity in wood type between the bonsai and the bonsai table. A bonsai with a reddish-brown trunk or wood could be placed on a bonsai table with reddish-brown wood. A bonsai with light wood could be placed on a bonsai table made of light-colored wood. Similarity can also be sought in the color of the bonsai's flowers, leaves, or fruits and the wood of the bonsai table. A bonsai with reddish berries might look very tasteful on a table made of reddish-brown wood. Another way to achieve harmony could be a deliberate contrast between the bonsai and the bonsai table's wood color. However, care should be taken to ensure that the contrast does not make the bonsai appear as if it doesn't belong on the table. To mitigate this, a darker wood color for the bonsai table is often chosen. Ebony is an excellent example of a dark wood color that frequently contrasts with the bonsai while still complementing it subtly and effectively.

(3) Legs of the bonsai table:

The legs of a bonsai table are a prominent design element and can vary greatly. They can be delicate and intricate or more robust and stable. A delicate bonsai should be placed on a bonsai table with fine table legs, while a heavy, strong bonsai should be placed on a bonsai table with sturdy, compact table legs. In this context, the credibility of the representation is also crucial. The legs of the bonsai table must appear capable of credibly supporting the weight of the bonsai for the viewer.

(4) Overall appearance of the bonsai table:

Some bonsai tables are highly decorated and feature extensive carvings, while others are more straightforward. When examining different bonsai tables, one can quickly notice that some appear lighter while others seem heavier. This overall appearance should be considered when selecting the right bonsai table. Robust, characterful conifers often look more fitting on a bonsai table that appears heavier. An element of design in bonsai tables is thin vertical struts that support the bonsai table's top along its entire width. This design element makes the bonsai table appear more "airy" or lighter due to the space between the struts. Such bonsai tables are traditionally chosen for deciduous trees, which tend to appear lighter than conifers or are considered more "female" in traditional teachings.

(5) The "Male" and "Female" Appearance:

In traditional Japanese teachings, conifers are considered male, while deciduous trees are considered female. This traditional perspective associates conifers with attributes such as strength, heaviness, and roughness, among others. The list of such male attributes can be expanded. In contrast, deciduous trees are associated with more feminine attributes like delicacy, grace, lightness, and beauty. It may seem odd to assign genders to bonsai tables, but some bonsai tables may appear more robust, massive, and coarse, following the traditional view and therefore being considered more "male." Such bonsai tables would tend to be suitable for conifers. Conversely, a bonsai table with a delicate, light appearance might be suitable for deciduous trees. However, caution is needed because nature often contradicts this oversimplified view. For example, an old oak with a distinctive, rugged bark may appear more "male" than a young Japanese black pine with a thin trunk.

Despite all these rules and guidelines on how to achieve a harmonious combination of bonsai and bonsai table, it always holds true: "Harmony, like beauty, lies in the eye of the beholder."

The Credibility of the Combination of Bonsai and Bonsai Table

When choosing a bonsai table for a bonsai, credibility in the representation is essential. This means that the bonsai table should appear plausible under the bonsai. The viewer should be able to understand that the bonsai table can realistically support the weight of the bonsai without collapsing under its weight. A heavy-looking, massive bonsai should be placed on a stable, solid-looking bonsai table.

Special Bonsai Tables for Cascades

So far, we have focused on flat bonsai tables, which are suitable for most bonsai presentations. The cascade bonsai style is an exception.

In cascade bonsai, the tip of the longest branch ends below the bonsai pot, and with the previously described flat bonsai table, this branch would touch the table. To present cascades more appropriately, taller bonsai tables are used, allowing the cascade branch to follow its vertically curved path along the bonsai table.

The considerations of harmony and credibility apply similarly to cascade bonsai tables, with the height of the cascade bonsai table chosen to accommodate the cascade branch adequately.

Concluding Remarks

Selecting a bonsai table can be as simple or as complicated as one wishes to make it. We firmly believe that there is no one "correct" bonsai table for a bonsai; rather, it is a highly individual decision based on personal taste. The preceding discussions should provide guidance for those who are considering various bonsai tables and seeking a structured framework for choosing a bonsai presentation table.

We hope that these insights into bonsai presentation tables are of interest to you. All information has been researched to the best of our knowledge and belief. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us via email or phone.

Your Golden Bonsai Team