This strange style is characterized by a thin slender trunk with only a few branches. The lower branches are often dead and barren, but the trunk itself is full of great character. The style owes the name ‘literati’ to the paintings of old Chinese artists, who would reproduce a tree in an almost abstract way. It is characterized by elegance and grace.
A narrow-trunked, age-hardy tree with an extremely reduced number of branches, which create a wabi and sabi (rustic) mood. It needs to be grown for a long time while retaining a slender trunk without it being unnecessarily fattened. And its small number of branches does not mean that it is easy to grow.
In nature, trees are forced into all kinds of shapes under the influences of weather, wind and placement. Consequently, bonsai trees can have many shapes and sizes and, depending on their way of growing, they are grouped into various styles and shapes.
Maybe some shapes seem strange and unnatural, but they are all based on the way trees grow in nature. Each tree, however, has its own character and within a certain style there is still an enormous variety. Usually a bonsai tree is given its name according to its shape or the number of trunks it has.
The Japanese devised the coded styles less than a hundred years ago. These styles make it possible to classify the trees according to the shape of their trunks, their branches, their roots. To know the styles is an obligatory base for amateurs. Though nowadays, without renouncing these styles, more importance is attached to the artistic values of movement, harmony and the coherence of the tree.
Bonsai classification by height:
Mame: up to 12cm / 5 inch
Shohin: from 12cm to 28cm / 5 – 11 inch
Chuhin: from 28cm to 60cm / 11 – 22 inch
Dai: from 60cm to 100cm / 22 – 40 inch
Bonsai classification by number of trunks on the same tree:
So-kan: 2 trunks
San-kan: 3 trunks
Go-kan: 5 trunks
Nana-kan: 7 trunks
Kyu-kan: 9 trunks