In the niche of the wall a few plum flower twigs,
they brave the frost and flower quietly by themselves,
from far away you can see that it can not be snow,
a sweet scent from somewhere.
Wang An - shih
The Chinese poet dedicated this poem to the plum blossom. The plum tree is the first in spring that produces its white flowers on black, leafless wood. The five petals of the flower are symbols for the five gods of happiness. The delicate beauty of the flower is compared with a young innocent girl. These are only a few of the many symbolic meanings of the plum blossom.
All flowers in the spring are nothing compared to the first plum blossoms.
This bonsai pot I would like to show today is full of deep symbolic meaning. This is not apparent for us europeans, for us it is just a pot with nice decoration. For the Chinese however, who are masters of the picture language, it tells everybody a personal story. The plum blossom that is shown on one side of the pot is a symbol for the cold season. There are dozens of interpretations, even very erotic ones, in this wonderfully subtle picture language.
The opposite side of the pot shows the image of a lily. The lily is the flower that makes you forget your sorrows. The other two sides of the pot are decorated with Chinese writing (a poem or first verse of a song).
The pot is covered with a half-opaque greenish-blue glaze. Writing, plum twig and lily are embossed on the pot's surface and were afterwards painted with a black-blue glaze. The pot measures 30 x 30 x 24 cm. Considering the sound of the pot it must have been fired at 1080-1100°C. There was probably a small series of these pots that were made about 100 years ago.
This pot has a magic charisma. The many little damages bear testimony to the long years of use and the glaze is covered with a unique, almost sombre patina, as if it kept an ancient secret. For me this pot has a soul.
Pot from the collection of Paul Lesniewicz.
Photographs and drawings by Peter Krebs.
This article was published in the “Bonsai” club magazine of the Bonsai Club Deutschland e.V.
Translation: Heike van Gunst