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A Little Treasure Chest 5

If you want to learn something about old bonsai pots - especially old porcelain pots -, most Western literature will be of little help. In about a dozen books about porcelain, from a luxuriously illustrated book to paperbacks, you will find hadly anything about planting containers, about penjing or bonsai pots. Apparently planting pots were not in demand and therefore not being imported.
You're basically left with the collections of a few bonsai enthusiasts, and they are as rare as white ravens. But for me as a potter, it is inevitable to go back to the origin of what fills my live to a great extent, the making of bonsai pots. Kun-tsan, a famous Zen master, said: “Who wants to fathom the essence of painting must climb the mountains and follow the rivers back to their sources, only then he can put his ideas into practice.”
The diversity of motifs on Chinese pots has its source in religion and popular belief. The real as well as the imaginary world are expressed with signs and symbols, it is life-affirming and sensual.
Luck, prosperity and success should be bestowed on the owner of a pot painted with these symbols. The depictions of the seasons, of plants and animals were a tribute to nature.

Size: 19 cm diameter, height 11,8 cm


Size: 13, cm diameter, 9,4 cm height

This is a soft paste porcelain pot with overglaze painting and final gold firing. The picture shows a woman or mother with a boy. The drawing is strong and full of verve, contrasting to the soft pastel colours. A very fancy pot; its faded gold rim reminds us of the impermanence of things.
The backside shows a poem in the famous grass writing. On the left, barely visible, the chop of the artist.
What grew or died in this pot during all the years, who made it, bought or gave it away - this will probably always remain a secret.


Size: 17,5 cm x 12 cm x 5,9 cm


Size: 19,5 cm x 9,7 cm x 4.9 cm


All pots shown here are from the collection of Paul Lesniewicz.

Text and photographs: Peter Krebs
Translation: Heike van Gunst