Penjing: Philosophy, Meaning, and Style

Penjing, the ancient Chinese art of creating landscaped scenes with miniature gnarled trees and mindfully arranged rocks can be traced back to the Tang Dynasty of the seventh century.  Miniature stands of tall, narrow trees were displayed in colorfully decorated pots or trays (pen) presenting scenes (jing) of natural wilderness. The earliest drawing of penjing on record (706 Continue Reading

What is Penjing


Penjing gets its name from the Chinese word penzai which means tray plant. This art is also known in other terms such as potted landscapes, tray landscapes and potted scenery. It is an age old Chinese craft of growing miniature trees and plants. By skilled pruning these trees are then shaped to depict landscapes and beautiful scenery. Penjing has been there for thousands of Continue Reading

Penjing, Landscapes in Miniature

Fujian Tea Penjing (C) Qingquan Zhao

We look at an ant and consider it tiny. Millions of years ago, a T-Rex would have looked at us and considered us diminutive and an easy catch for dinner. Perhaps the ancient Chinese just wanted to see the world from a T-Rex perspective when they created the art of penjing, the arranging of miniature trees and landscapes in shallow dishes called “pens.” Though pen pottery has Continue Reading

Bonsai and the Chinese Penjing


While many are aware of the art of Japanese bonsai, very few realize that bonsai originated in China where it was called penjing. Penjing has three different forms. One of these forms is tree penjing, and this is where bonsai began. Another form is landscape penjing, which uses rocks instead of trees. Water and land penjing blends the other two into a third form, styling Continue Reading