Influence of Penjing on the Imagination

Dating back to at least the 1st Century AD, practitioners of Daoist mysticism have endeavored to create landscape scenes in miniature. People see it as a means to focus on and increase the properties we might experience at full-size sights.

While related to bonsai, penjing are noticeably different. They are often more natural or “wild” looking, and they often depict landscapes rather than single trees. Penjing 盆景 is Chinese for a landscape or scene (jing) in a pot (pen). Whereas bonsai displays typically focus on a tree or trees, penjing displays can include elements other than trees, including rocks, water, figurines or structures. 

Penjing artists often say they are striving in their work to reveal
the inner beauty, or essence, of nature.
Egyptian Black Marble, 5 x 20 x7 inches
Shanshui 山水盆景

Shanshui is the concept in chinese culture which translates to 'mountain- water.' Shanshui penjing style is a landscape that features a rock placed in a tray of water. Though the sculpture MOUNTAIN MOSQUE ALONG THE NILE is not shown in a pan of water, the water is to be imagined. These landscapes communicate an abstract narrative. Also imagined by the artist, is a sensation of drifting down the Nile in Egypt, watching the slow-moving image of rock formations and mud monuments slowly pass on the river bank.

An Evolving Art Form of the Imagination

Part of the beauty of penjing as an art form is that it is an evolving form of expression due to the ways particular artists will experiment. Artists might cut and reshape rocks to embody mountains, as in the sculpture above. Regardless of how the art form changes in its technical definition, the art aims at seeing the big from the small to convey universal emotions. 

It must be said that Poetry also has the power to create moving images
from the written word as in The Sky's Enormous Jug by Jan Kemp.