Photo – CSCeramique

Shapes of Pots
– Part 1 –

Claude Savard

The bonsai pot market is filled with an endless variety of shapes, although they ultimately boil down to just two fundamental forms:

Round and square!
These shapes offer distinct aesthetics and serve different purposes. Round pots symbolize harmony and balance, while square pots represent stability and strength. Regardless of the shape chosen, bonsai enthusiasts can find endless options to showcase the beauty of their bonsai.

In a previous article entitled « How do I know if my bonsai is masculine or feminine? », we discussed the link between round shapes and feminine trees, as well as the harmonization of masculine trees with square pots. However, it would be illogical to limit the choice of pot shapes in the bonsai world to these two options. We know that trees are not strictly limited to one gender. There is always either a masculine or feminine dominance on a bonsai tree.

Fortunately, several centuries ago, Japanese potters invented pot shapes that draw inspiration from these two fundamental characteristics. This allowed them to create different styles of pots that harmonize perfectly with various types of bonsai. As a result, these pottery pieces have contributed to highlighting the beauty and uniqueness of each miniature tree while respecting its inherent natural attributes.

What shape of pot would be most appropriate?

Round and oval pots

Round or oval shapes are often associated with feminine trees. Round pots are often used for literati style (Bunjing), while oval pots are suitable for trees in the informal upright style (Moyogi). These pots are perfect for trees with a curving trunk line, whether they are deciduous or coniferous. They come in different heights and can be used for a variety of styles, ranging from literati (Bunjing) to representing a forest (Yose-ue).

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Square and rectangular pots

These types of pots are associated with masculine trees because of their distinctive angles and straight lines. Most of the time, they are conifers that often feature an imposing structure, with gnarled branches and parts of dead wood, reinforcing their masculine character.

Their sizes are less flexible than those of the feminine trees, as they tend to be more massive. Consequently, the choice of pot should reflect the tree’s gender, paying particular attention to its shape and solidity.

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A little tip

If you have a tree with both masculine and feminine characteristics, you can use a square or rectangular pot. However, opting for pots with rounded corners would enhance its feminine features more.

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particular shapes

Elongated forms

Here are a few examples illustrating different pot shapes, associated with feminine or masculine genders.

Elongated oval or rectangular pots are generally low in height, but play a crucial role in enhancing groves or forests of trees. These pots are versatile, suitable for both deciduous and coniferous trees. What’s more, they can be used for rock mounting, also known as Ishisuki. These pots offer a harmonious aesthetic and can be used to create captivating landscape compositions, highlighting the beauty of trees and rock formations. Whether highlighting the elegance of deciduous leaves or the majesty of conifers, these elongated pots are indispensable for enhancing landscapes…

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The polygons

Certain polygon shapes, such as hexagons (6-sided) and octagons (8-sided), are commonly used for flowering trees. These regular shapes are often combined with deep cuts, adding height to the tree. They are also frequently used in cascade (Kengai) and semi-cascade (Han-kengai) styles. These geometric shapes offer aesthetic balance and solid structure to the tree, enhancing its natural beauty. Hexagons and octagons are popular choices among bonsai enthusiasts because of their elegant appearance and their contribution to the creation of an exceptional tree.

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Compound forms

For these shapes, the criteria remain the same as for oval or rectangular pots, but with more refinement. These shapes offer an opportunity to accentuate the interest around the character you wish to highlight. They create a more elegant and distinctive presentation, adding a touch of sophistication to the object in question. Their use highlights the desire to bring out the particular and unique aspects of the chosen typeface, offering a more creative and artistic expression. These shapes are ideal for those who wish to present their character with style and finesse, captivating attention in a subtle yet powerful way.

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