Bonsai’s History is certainly cloaked in the veil of time. It is debated how far the origin of the art dated back.
The earliest legend begins in China Claiming that the art began in the Han Dynasty between the years of 206 B.C. – 220 A.D. It is believed that the emperor of the Han Dynasty was one of the earliest practitioners. He created elaborate landscapes which included realistic hills, trees, and lakes. He created these inside of his courtroom so that he could watch over his whole empire from within his palace. As for people caught trying to duplicating his work, they where swiftly executed.
The behavior of the Han dynasty’s emperor highlights a fundamental flaw in human behavior. A form of famine thinking has impaired the advancement of the human race for probably since it’s beginnings. Why is it though out history humankind reverts back to this concept that great ideas should not be shared? Human beings often let their greed lead them to avoid sharing new or innovative ideas, slowing down betterment of our society as a whole. I want bonsai to break through this mentality, not re-enforce it as it has in the past. You see this happening today as the result of the internet. You can learn things about the art and tradition of bonsai that used to take you a lifetime if you where lucky enough to encounter a student teacher relationship with an experienced bonsai artist. Now we are seeing bonsai associations and clubs in most cities and are able to find information about the art form across the world wide web.
We know for sure the art of bonsai started in the Tang Dynasty around 200 AD. Once again because of man’s greed the tradition stayed reserved for the elite of the society.
From 794 A.D. – 1191 A.D. Buddhist Monks brought Bonsai to the island of Japan. Though Japan is credited for the word bonsai. It actually originates from the Chinese word Penzai Translating to potted tree. The tradition most likely began in China and was refined when brought to Japan.