Literati or Shohin: It's your call

bonsai barry

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Here is a pine that I picked up in the discard pile of a landscape nursery about a year ago. I think it could be used as either a literati (about three feet tall) or a shohin informal upright (about 10 inches tall). I've included a photo of the tree as it now stands and two poor virts showing what it might look like either as a Literati or a shohin.

What do you think?
 

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John Ruger

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I'm partial to shohin, but definately a literati is the way to go.

Good luck with it!
 

capnk

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The literati styling is great!
 

treebeard55

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Scots pine, right? (Pinus sylvestris)

They're prone to a natural bunjin look as they mature in the wild. That's one reason why I also vote for the bunjin concept for this tree.
 

rockm

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I think shohin.

Just because a trunk is long lanky and has bends in it doesn't make it an immediate candidate for literati. That assumption is a common one and a reason why there are so many ugly literati trees out there. The bends in this trunk aren't really artful. They're awkward. The trunk gracefully flows to a point, then a sharp angle, more flow--tuft of foliage... Not a good literati. No rhythm, which is what a thin literati trunk is about...

Shohin would be a better choice. Above the chop mark, there really isn't a lot of interest...
 

mcpesq817

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I think shohin.

Just because a trunk is long lanky and has bends in it doesn't make it an immediate candidate for literati. That assumption is a common one and a reason why there are so many ugly literati trees out there. The bends in this trunk aren't really artful. They're awkward. The trunk gracefully flows to a point, then a sharp angle, more flow--tuft of foliage... Not a good literati. No rhythm, which is what a thin literati trunk is about...

Shohin would be a better choice. Above the chop mark, there really isn't a lot of interest...

Also, you're fortunate to have all those low branches on a pine. I'd go shohin too.
 

Redwood Ryan

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I would vote for Shohin as well. Aren't pines difficult to air layer?
 

october

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This is a good question here... They both seem appealing..Sometimes, it helps to just rephrase exactly what they see, while trying to be neutral, instead of an opinion. If you do go with a literati, although they are not rule ridden, there are some points here to address.. As a literati, the tree seems to curve away from and then towards the viewer etc.. Sometimes this, in itself, can be a distraction, sometimes, not necessarilly for the viewer, but for the artist. Everyday ,he/she will have to see this tree from the side and see how it does this S curve, not side to side, but front to back...Also, there is the sharp point as mentioned earlier. Once it is a literati, it will never be able to be anything but a literati. Not saying this in a bad way

If you go with a shohin, you are in it for a lot more work and much more time. However, I think the reward will be greater. If you do go with shohin, you will basically be starting from nothing and have to grow the whole tree. I do not say this as a deterent, but rather a positive. In the future you will look back and feel proud that you created this tree from the beginning. Also, a pine of this size and started from the beginning to get it just right, would be a highly prized bonsai.

ok...lol.. those are the facts... Now for opinion...I would probably go for the shohin and search for another tree that might make a better literati...lol..

Rob
 

rockm

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"Air layer and have both"

This is the worst of both worlds. The subject of the air layering (especially since it will take a year--or two--to layer a pine) must be worth it. The trunk is not worth it--as October pointed out.

Air layering is about as misunderstood as literati. It is not a "solution" to creating a tree. It is not a substitute for pruning. Trying to "save" large portions of a bonsai-to-be doesn't really save much. It wastes time and effort both on the main tree and the air layered portion (if it's not worthy and most times, it's not).
 

ghues

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"Air layer and have both"

This is the worst of both worlds. The subject of the air layering (especially since it will take a year--or two--to layer a pine) must be worth it. The trunk is not worth it--as October pointed out.

Air layering is about as misunderstood as literati. It is not a "solution" to creating a tree. It is not a substitute for pruning. Trying to "save" large portions of a bonsai-to-be doesn't really save much. It wastes time and effort both on the main tree and the air layered portion (if it's not worthy and most times, it's not).

Thats your opinion but I've seen Larch and hemlock airlayered and in my opinion (and others) they were "worthy" both from an experience point of view and from attaining a quality tree. I agree that both portions weren't worthy but the main one was.
Cheers Graham
 

treebeard55

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You might try something I do with my daughter on occasion, when she can't seem to make up her mind. I tell her we'll flip a coin. I flip it, and before I let her see it, I ask, "Now, what do you want it to be -- heads or tails?" Sometimes that helps her realize what she herself really wants.
 

bonsai barry

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Thanks for everyone's input. Still uncertain, but I don't see the harm of allowing it to grow as it is for the time being. The Shohin has a long way to go, so maybe I'll enjoy it for a few years as a literati and then make the cut.

I always respect ROCKM's opinions, but in this case I disagree with the assessment that the trunk is awkward. I don't fully understand literati but in this case, I think it has a calligraphic look to it. But I reserve the right to change my opinion as I learn more!
 

rockm

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"I don't fully understand literati but in this case, I think it has a calligraphic look to it."

If you think that's the case go for it, however, not really understanding the style you're working on may not be the best way to approach it. I'm really not trying to be abrasive (honest:eek:.) It's just that I've seen about a bajillion :D literati trees that have no business being literati tree other than their owners stereotyped their trunks as "literati-ish" because they're thin and "move" a bit. That's just not enough for a decent literati tree.

Trunks like this one are not literati just because they're thin and have movement. Both of those are important, but they have to be coherent and graceful. In my opinion, the movement here has no cohesive direction or flow. It simply zooms around this way and that with abrupt angular stops at the end of curves...It "says" nothing. It is simply awkward...

The tree's biggest asset, as was pointed out, is the immediate, low branching and nebari. Naka said to find the smallest tree possible in stock material...
 

treebeard55

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Jerry Meislik pointed out, in his recent visit to Fort Wayne, that form is almost irrelevant in bunjin: the style is almost entirely about line. Worth keeping in mind.

This virt was made, not to suggest a line for the tree, but to point out that the tree's present line doesn't have to be kept! Pines are flexible, and respond well to the notch method. Just because the line is nothing earth-shaking now doesn't mean it couldn't be improved. :)
 

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