Origins of Some of the Terms


Compiled by Robert J. Baran








To best appreciate a subject, it is helpful to know the source and derivation of the terms used therein.  Below, we have a listing of some of the words/phrases relating to the evolution of Magical Miniature Landscapes.  Clicking on some of the characters will show you the component breakdown for the origin of those characters.  (We are in the process of adding further character origins.)  Chinese characters were adopted or modified by the Japanese over the past fifteen centuries.  The best understanding of the derivation of these Japanese characters is presented below.

<Dates shown thus are when the term is believed to have been initially in use in that language.>

[Dates shown thus are of the earliest known usage in print in English, in order of oldest spelling first, most current last.
Citation details can be found elsewheres on this website.]


[Dates shown thus are of an earlier usage in print in another European language.]

Calligraphy by Hong Song Tu, Phoenix, Arizona.


If you know of any additions or corrections, please contact us at rjb@magiminiland.org .


This Page Last Updated: June 15, 2016
.



  Character 
Literal Translation
Chinese (Romanized)
Japanese (Romanized)
English 
tray, basin, pot, tub  pan or p'an
   <before B.C.E.1000>
 pun or p'un
 pen or p'en
 bon
   [1892, Hoffmann, "Japanese-English Dictionary," Vol. III, pp. 85-86]
tray;
shallow basin or pot
great mountain (incense) heater   po-shan [hsiang-]lu
   <item c. B.C.E.2nd century; this term c. C.E. 6th century>
   [1909, Laufer, Chinese Pottery of the Han Dynasty, p. 183];
 boshan (xiang)lu

incense burner in the form of the sacred mountains
tray plaything  pun wan
   <c.700 C.E.>
    [1974, Wu, Man Lung Artistic Pot Plants, p. 62];
  pen wan


little child scene  hsieh-tzu-ching
   <c.1300>
   [1990, Stein, The World in Miniature, p. 24];
 shea tzu ching
   [1974, Wu, Man Lung Artistic Pot Plants, p. 62];
 xiezi jing


tray stone
 bonseki
   <c.600?>
   [1892, Hoffmann, "Japanese-English Dictionary," Vol. III, pg. 86]
landscape on a tray with stone and sand
water stone
 suiseki
   [c.1929, Encyc. Brit., Vol. 3, p. 855]
viewing stone
tray mountain  pen shan
   <c.1103>
   [1961, Schafer, Edward H.  Tu Wan's Stone Catalogue of Cloudy Forest, pg. in note 4]
 p'en shan
   [1990, Stein, The World in Miniature, p. 39]
 bonsan
   <c.1582>
   [1892, Hoffmann, "Japanese-English Dictionary," Vol. III, pp. 85-86]
 bonção
   [1598, quoting 1582, Frois, Cartas que os padres e irmãos da Companhia de Jesus, ff. 62-62v]
 bonzan
    [c.1929, Encyc. Brit., Vol. 3, p. 854];
a stone with sand and sometimes vegetation, arranged to suggest a landscape
ancient tree  koo shoo
   <c.17th century>
   [1822, Livingstone, "Account of the Method," p. 227];
 koo shue
   [1933, McClure, "Methods and Materials," p. 125]; 
  gu shu

dwarfed tree;
dwarfed woody plants of tree-like habit
tray landscape  p'an-ching
   <c.1630>
   [1955, Li, Chinese flower arrangement, p. 4];
 pun-ching
    [1974, Wu, Man Lung Artistic Pot Plants, p. 62];
 penjing
   <1127-1279>
   [2004, Hung, "'Penzai' or 'Penjing' That is The Question," p. 43]

 bonkei
   [1899, Yamanaka & Co. Auction Catalog, p. 15]
landscape in a container
the pot's tree   (bo mu)  hachi no ki 
   <1383?>
   [1906, Kakuzo Okakura, The Book of Tea, p. 132]
dwarf potted tree (specifically in a deeper pot and not as refined as would be the shallow tray bonsai)
tray plant  p'oon tsui
   <by 1688>
   [1933, McClure, "Methods and Materials," p. 119];
 p'an-tsai
   [1955, Li, Chinese flower arrangement, p. 4];
 p'en tsai
   [1969, Behme, Bonsai, Saikei and Bonkei, p. 15];
 pun-sai
    [1974, Wu, Man Lung Artistic Pot Plants, p. 63];
 pen-sai
   [1984, Koreshoff, Bonsai, p. 4];
 penzai
 pencai
 bonsai
   <c.1800>
   [1899, Yamanaka & Co. Auction Catalog, p. 7]
dwarf potted tree;
artistic pot plant;
table culture plant;
living ming tree;
dish gardening
box garden
 hachi-niwa
   <c.1850?>
   [1908, DuCane, The Flowers and Gardens of Japan, p. 65];
 hako-niwa
   [1920, "Making Japanese Miniature Gardens," American Forestry, Vol. 26, p. 497]
Japanese miniature garden;
dish-garden
pot planted  (bo zhi)  hachi-uye
   <c.17th century>
   [c.1929, Encyc. Brit., Vol. 3, p. 854];
 hachi-ue
dwarf tree in a deep pot
planted tree
 ueki
   <c.19th century>
   [1991, Yoshimura, "Modern Bonsai, Part I," International Bonsai, 1991/No. 3, p. 33]
dwarf potted tree
tray picture
 bon-e
   <before 1939>
   [1945, The Supplementary Japanese-English Dictionary, p. 16]
   [1990, Stein, The World in Miniature, p. 52]
landscape on a tray made with fine sand and pebbles
planted landscape
 saikei
   <before 1963>
   [1963, Kawamoto & Kurihara, Bonsai-Saikei]
miniature living landscape (often using trees not yet developed enough to stand alone as bonsai, and without as many formal rules)
correct trunk  chih-kan
   <mid 17th century>
   [1990, Stein, The World in Miniature, p. 280, n. 49]
 chokkan
   <c.1800>
   [1957, Yoshimura & Halford, The Japanese Art of Miniature Trees, p. 65]
formal upright; straight trunk
model style tree  (mo yang mu)  moyoki
   <before 1955>
   [1964, Murata, Bonsai: Miniature Potted Trees, inside back cover];
 moyogi
 mikoshi
   [1899, Yamanaka & Co. Auction Catalog," p. 8]
informal upright
hanging over a cliff   hsüan-yai
   <mid 17th century>
    [1990, Stein, The World in Miniature, p. 280, n. 49];
  xuan yai
 kengai
   <c.1800>
   [1899, Yamanaka & Co. Auction Catalog, p. 13]
 kengaï
   [1902, Maumené, Les Arbres Nains Japonais, p. 19]
cascade;
overhanging from a cliff
 _____ planting
 yosewye
   [1899, Yamanaka & Co. Auction Catalog, p. 59]
 yose uye
   [c.1929, Encyc. Brit., Vol. 3, p. 854];
 yose-ue
   [1957, Yoshimura & Halford, The Japanese Art of Miniature Trees, p. 66]
group planting;
forest planting;
multiple tree
stone attached
 ishitzuki
   [c.1929, Encyc. Brit., Vol. 3, p. 854];
 ishitsuki
   [1953, Yashiroda, Handbook on Dwarfed Potted Trees, p. 15];
 ishi-zuke / ishi-zuki
   [1964, Murata, Bonsai: Miniature Potted Trees, p. 51]
stone-clasping style;
clinging to rock
root upward  lou ken
   <mid 17th century>
    [1990, Stein, The World in Miniature, p. 280, n. 49];
 gen shang
 neagari
   [1900, Bedford, "Elfin Trees," p. 916]
raised exposed root style (popular at the beginning of the 20th century)
literary man tree  wen-jen-mu;
 wenren mu
   [1997, Zhao, Penjing: Worlds of Wonderment, p. 49]
 bunjingi
   <c.1800>
   [1957, Yoshimura & Halford, The Japanese Art of Miniature Trees, p. 65]
literati style;
Chinese scholar free-form or abstract


For additional scholarly commentary on the terms we use, please see
Yoshimura, Yuji  "Modern Bonsai, Development Of The Art Of Bonsai From An Historical Perspective -- Part 1," International Bonsai, IBA, 1991/No. 3, pp. 32-35, and
Hung, Akey C.F.  "'Penzai' or 'Penjing' That is The Question," Bonsai, BCI, Vol. 43, No. 4, October/November/December 2004, pg. 43.

Chinese Characters and Culture





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