The purpose of this site is to promote the art and craft of pottery for bonsai in North America by providing a
guide to the practitioners of this art form that is so essential to the art of bonsai.
The word "bonsai" comes from the Japanese words "bon" (pot) and "sai" (tree) and literally means "tree in a
pot". Most individuals who use the term bonsai are referring to the tree, but from the name, it is clear that the
pot or container is essential to complete the bonsai whole.
In bonsai, the container or pot is almost always ceramic. The pot must be carefully matched to the tree in
size, style, color and "gender." The pot should complement the tree and not draw
attention to itself rather than the tree or the total composition. Inexpensive pots
are used for initial training but nicely trained trees deserve nice pots. Trees grow
and change in style, so as a tree matures, the "perfect pot" may change. As a
result, there is a saying in the bonsai community that one can never have too
many pots. The corollary is that one never has the right pot for a given tree after
There are several bonsai styles that do not employ ceramic pots. Those
include single trees or
forest plantings on rough
stone slabs or, more
recently, synthetic slabs
from ciment fondue or
fiberglass. Trees clinging
to rocks are another familiar theme in bonsai; the stone
may or may not be placed in a ceramic pot or suiban.
Chinese penjing often employs marble slabs carved into
shallow oval or rectangular trays.
Bonsai is often viewed as a very traditional art bound
by many rules instituted or codified by the Japanese.
These traditions are an important underpinning of bonsai
and it is wise to understand the rules and why they exist.
There are many books that will guide the beginner
through the intricacies of bonsai. All art is based upon
balance and composition, but bonsai includes the
additional aspect of a living and growing organism. To
understand the rules is critical, but bonsai is also an
evolving art, not only in the growth of its trees, but also in
the evolution of its artistry. Very traditional styles can
stand side by side with modern or even abstract works.
See the wonderful article "Bonsai Containers as Ceramic
Art" by Fred Aufschläger for a description of bonsai and
pot styles and how they relate to one another.
There is a related site on identifying bonsai pottery of the world hosted by the Dutch bonsai portal. That site
is currently focussed on marks or chops of the entire world and is thus very complementary to this effort.
There are several ways to view this site. We have compiled a directory of artists and their signatures, seals,
rakkan (Japanese seals) or other identifying marks. Those identifiers link directly to individual pages for each
artist. One may also simply browse through the artist pages or return to the home page or the directory at any
We have devoted pages to each of the artists we have
identified giving a very limited impression of their work. We have
also included very brief information about the artists. Where
possible, we have also included links to their own or other web
sites where you can find additional information.
The initial basis for this site was a project undertaken by the
Brandywine Bonsai Society to document the pot collections of its
members. Several of these collections are deemed to be of
significant historical value. Other photographs have been taken
from the internet. (Where we are aware of copyrights, we have
obtained permission to reproduce, though this does not imply that
our readers have permission to reproduce.) It is brought to you as
a service to the bonsai community at large. It is our intent that all
of the information is correct, up to date and useful. It is also hoped
that this will be an evergreen site in that we are constantly updating
and improving the information. With that in mind we make the
We welcome additions to the list of artists.
As the site grows, we intend to give more space to well
We welcome new artists and hope to use this space to
encourage potters to consider bonsai pottery.
We would be happy to consider changing the photographs on
any of the pages should an artist or collector provide better
We particularly welcome any corrections.
We are willing to accept works by unknown artists in hopes of identifying their work or identifying marks.
Finally, in keeping with our objective to promote the art of bonsai pottery in North America, and for that
matter, around the world, we encourage bonsai enthusiasts and clubs to do so also. When we are showing trees
it is common to label the genus and species of tree. We would also encourage you, whenever possible, to
identify the artist who constructed your pot. There is no better way to acknowledge their important contribution
to our hobby or passion.
Tiny contemporary pot.
A huge classic pot.
Modern pot as
Links below in blue are
not yet working
The Art of Bonsai Pottery
by Steve Ittel
Brandywine Bonsai Society is an educational organization and as a result, the material in this site may be copied for
educational purposes. If large portions are copied, we would appreciate attribution. We welcome links to this site.