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Join the Florida Museum for a special, time-limited experience featuring Penjing landscapes inside the Butterfly Rainforest exhibit!
For four weeks, from Sept. 30 through Oct. 29, visitors may enjoy this distinct form of garden art. These miniature landscapes capture the Chinese appreciation of natural environments. Penjing sculptures convey an artistic vision of nature, including mountains, water and small plants.
This display is included in the Butterfly Rainforest admission price.
The sculptures on display are the creations of University of Florida professor of horticulture John Peterson and master penjing artist Qiao Hong Gen.
Records of the existence of the art of Penjing dates to the Tang Dynasty (A.D. 618-907. Wall paintings in the burial chamber of Prince Zang Huai depict a lady-in-waiting presenting an offering of a rock and plant sculpture on a stone tray. Other paintings of the time portray exquisitely shaped rocks adorned with small plants, and stones arranged with tiny plants in a low-rimmed container being presented as gifts and tributes to the royal court. Some stories suggest that stones collected from various regions of China were fashioned into reflections of the natural beauty of the various lands over which the Emperor of China reigned but may have never seen.
Many people in the Western Hemisphere are familiar with the art of bonsai, and this Japanese art form traces its origins to China. Buddhist monks brought “living plant sculptures” to Japan in the 10th and 11th century and the art form of growing small plants in pots known in China as “penzai” evolved into the Japanese word “bonsai.” In China, over hundreds of years the term “penzai” evolved into the word “penjing.” Single miniature plants, or groupings of dwarfed plants, as well as small plants on and among miniature rock landscapes, fall into the overall descriptive category of penjing.
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