Saturday, January 31, 2015

Vitage suibans and flowerpots in China

During my trip to China last year, I visited a couple of antique shops. They were located in touristy places so the prices were probably a little higher, but in China one can haggle even in the government owned shops. Their merchandise was mostly vintage rather than antique. Below are images of a few porcelain suibans I saw in one of the shops. This kind of container is traditionally used in China to grow flower bulbs. To me, the two in the top row looked somewhat unusual. The one marked with a single asterisk was fan-shaped with a price tag of about AU$618. The one marked with a double asterisk was only AU$309.

Below is another interesting porcelain suiban which was on sale for AU$740.

This trip also made me aware of the traditional Chinese flowerpots. Some of them were as exquisite and elegant as the one shown in the image ‘A’ below. Image ‘B’ shows a celadon pot with a hefty price tag of AU$1030. Image ‘C’ shows another flowerpot selling for AU$740. 

Quite expensive considering these ceramics are only 50-100 years old.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Penjing Museum, Tiger Hill, Suzhou

Another post about my visit to Tiger Hill, which took place this time last year. One of the traditional buildings at the Tiger Hill Penjing Garden was a penjing museum. All information there was in Chinese, so I concentrated on examining antique containers displayed there. Images below show some of them.

Below is the legend to the images above:

A – Blue and white porcelain, size 41 x 27 x 15 cm, late Qing Dynasty (1644-1912).
B – Coarse clay container, size 37 x 55 x 18 cm, Ming (1368–1644) or early Qing Dynasty.
C – River clay container, 49 x 25 x 15 cm, mid Qing Dynasty.
D – Yuxing ‘purple sand’ ware with landscape painted in black pigment, size 48 x 32 x 18 cm, late Qing Dynasty.
E – No information, probably Yuxing ware, unusual form and decoration.
F – Yuxing ‘purple sand’ ware with painting and calligraphy, possibly by artist Lu Hui Li (1851-1920), size 24 x 24 x 36 cm.
G – Yellow clay container, probably Yuxing ware, size 18 x 15.8 cm, late Qing Dynasty.
H – Yuxing ‘purple sand’ ware, unusual bucket-shaped container, size 20 x 20 x 18.5 cm, mid Qing Dynasty (displayed as a photograph).
I – Container with ink painting style decoration, size 26.5 x 16.5 x 14 cm, mid Qing Dynasty (displayed as a photograph).

Apart from that, an antique penjing tool displayed there made me realize how basic the tools were in the olden days (see images below).

I don't visit penjing museums very often, so it was fun.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Tiger Hill Penjing Garden, Suzhou

Tiger Hill Penjing Garden is the best ‘bonsai garden’ I have seen to date and I have seen a few places in Japan, China, Singapore, Malaysia and Australia. Before saying anything about the garden one must appreciate that Tiger Hill and Suzhou are steeped in ancient history and culture. Historic references to it go back to ‘Spring and Autumn’ period (771-476 BC). For thousands of years Suzhou remained an important cultural centre, it became the “city of gardens” and the home of Suzhou school of penjing. Images below show some of the Tiger Hill surrounds.

All elements of Tiger Hill Penjing Garden form a cohesive whole. Buildings, walls, walkways and hundreds of penjing trees are all in harmony with each other. See it for yourself in the images below.

Most penjing trees were of a high standard, however it was very difficult to photograph them because they invariably had a busy backdrop behind them. Elms (Ulmus pumila, U. parvifolia) and Chinese Sweet Plum (Sageretia theezans) constituted the majority of deciduous trees in the garden. Images below will give you a representative sample.

A handful of broad-leaved trees had leaves on them and they are shown below. The one in the middle is Japanese Box (Buxus harlandii).

As for the conifers, junipers were almost exclusively Juniperus formosana and J. chinensis. All J. formosana trees had brownish foliage (see images below). Some of the trees were quite large. The image marked with asterisk shows a two-meter-tall tree.

Images below show some of the pines, which mostly were White Pine (Pinus parviflora) and Black Pine (Pinus thunbergii).

There was also a number of very high standard rock penjing shown in the images below.

Every moment in Tiger Hill Penjing Garden was simply precious.

Friday, January 09, 2015

Penjing Garden at the Humble Administrator’s Garden, Suzhou

This penjing garden is a fenced-off enclave within the Humble Administrator’s Garden. It's not very big, but it has enough trees to enthral any bonsai practitioner (see images below).

This garden had a good mix of species, but conifers, especially pines were still a majority. Images below show some of the larger pines in the garden.

There were a lot of medium sized pines as well (see images below).

Junipers were well represented too (images below). 

Images below show a few Podocarpus penjing.

Busy backgrounds of this garden made it difficult to take good photos of the trees. It was especially challenging to photograph deciduous trees. I did get lucky in some instances. Below are some photos of the deciduous trees taken against plain backgrounds.

More deciduous tree images below. 

There were a few instances of broad leaved trees with the leaves on, which would give you a glimpse of how deciduous penjing look in autumn (see images below).

And finally, there were a few rock penjing compositions shown in the images below.

This place is a must for a bonsai enthusiast visiting Suzhou.