Displaying Shohin

From website Shohin Bonsai Europe

The art of displaying shohin bonsai is much more complex compared to the traditional bonsai. Although there are some rules to guide the display, each bonsai artist will interpret those rules differently. One has to look at the whole composition. The untold and understated elements are the key to feel the shohin display or the bonsai display.

The standard formal shohin display rack is called Nanaten Tanakazari. The rack is divided into four parts: Tenba (top), Chudan (middle), Gedan (bottom) and Maeoki (sub stage).

Shohin Display Diagram #1
Definition of Rack Positions

Placing the Trees

There are seven positions to place the elements: Shuboku – the main tree, left of Chudan, right of Chudan, left of Gedan, right of Gedan, Fukuboku – assistant tree, and Soe – assistant supporter. All seven elements are necessity to obtain harmony of the display. Don’t use any equal species twice in the display. Also the style and the color of the pot may not be the same one. The species and their style and color, their fruit, and their size have to differ, in order to make a well-balanced and beautiful display.

The Main tree – Shuboku: This is the most important tree of the display. It is therefore placed on top of the rack, tenba. Because it is viewed best, at this position where it is in eyelevel of the viewer. At this position it is also easy to obtain the good and bad parts of the tree, and therefore the best tree is placed here.

Assistant tree – Fukuboku: 
At the sub stage the tree that emphasizes the main tree is placed. It is important to use a tree, which has a good movement.

Assistant Supporter – Soe: 
Smallest tree to be used on the display is the supporter planting.

The numbers of trees displayed are not always an even number. Although we are taught in creating Yose-ue group planting, in Tokonoma traditional bonsai display, there is possible to display even numbers of items in shohin display.

Shohin Display Diagram #2
Definition of Rack Positions