One Pot To Rule Them All

One Pot To Rule Them All

Exterior dimensions 36.5cm x 33cm x 9cm (18½in x 13in x 3½in).  The lip is 7.5cm (3in) on each side!

Many of you might know that I have a strange fascination with pots that have exceptionally large lips.  I think I may have found the  Mother Of All Pots (with a large lip that is)!  This pot by far has the largest lip that I have ever seen.  It’s taken me about a year before I got my hands on one and it was worth the wait.  In this short post I’m going to share some pictures and a description of this pot.

Here is a top view of the pot.  There isn’t much patina on this pot.  It was found in a flower shop and has probably been sitting on the shelf for many years.  Looking at the lines and texture of the pot, it’s apparent that it was hand made and not mold made.

The underside.  Unfortunately there is a piece that broke off on the bottom right.  The good thing is that there are no cracks and that you can’s see the broken area from the top.

Just in case you didn’t notice the lip…

This pot was made by Maruhei-in and is Japanese.  One of the cool things about this pot is that there are three chops in three different locations.  This small chop is on the inside of the pot.

This chop and signature is on the underside of the pot.

The third, a small chop on the side of the pot on the outside.  Many times in Japan, instead of writing, “Maru,” they use a circle instead.  Maru is the word for circle.  So in this chop, you have the, “Maru (circle),” and the kanji for, “Hei,” on the inside.  Put it all together and you get Maruhei.

Mr. Tanaka too has one these pots but the chop on the bottom is different thought still made by Maruhei.  We’re not 100 percent sure which chop is older thought Mr. Tanaka feels that my pot is the older one.

The 10,000 Dollar Question?

Now what would you put in this pot?  What kind of tree and what kind of tree style would work in this pot?

I know the first thing that normally comes to people’s mind is what you, “can not,” put in this pot.  Try not to think about that and really explore the possibilities of, “can,” and you may be surprised to what might work.  To quote Mr. Tanaka, “There are no real rules as to what kind of pot looks good with what kind of tree.  The only real rule is balance and the overall aesthetics of the pairing.”  Since all of our perceptions of what, “looks good,” is different from person to person we can really go wild with all the pots out there.  Having said that, this higher concept of pot matching is coming from a professional with a great deal of experience.  For those that aren’t as experience, ask other Bonsai people for their opinions and keep your mind open to them all.  Try to understand what they are saying and at the end, do what feels right to you.  New trends in pot to tree matching are occurring all the time.  That’s what makes it fun and fresh.

Study, study, study and keep learning.  That helps too. ;o)

Please share your thoughts in what might go well in this pot in the comment section below.

Thanks for reading!

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30 thoughts on “One Pot To Rule Them All

  1. Peter Tea says:

    Thanks for all the suggestions everyone! It looks like there are plenty of trees I can put in this pot. At first glance, one would wonder what can possibly go in it and it turns out, there are many!

    I like that many of you have commented on the flatness of the pot and how it resembles a field. It’s like putting a tree on a slab, but a bit more refined slab.

    Personally, I was thinking of putting a literati in this pot. Also a tall multitrunk. I’m thinking I can go with any type of tree.

  2. mameandshohinbonsaipots says:

    Love the title of your post! No tree. Leave it empty. If it were my pot I would want to pick it up & admire it on a daily bases. Great find. Nice feet also.

  3. Hmm says:

    Just to clarify – recognize that that pot is, aesthetically, unmistakably feminine. If you put a big black pine in there, it will look, erm, rather silly.

    If you put a flowering tree in there, it will look like a Bonsai Venus during that brief time of year when it’s in bloom – gorgeous but self aware, like a diva in a her golden bathtub! Perhaps that’s something you’d rather avoid – but given how far removed such an idea is from the traditional aesthetic of bonsai, it could be quite interesting…

  4. Hmm says:

    Satsuki azalea, naturally! Imagine how awesome a large satsuki in full bloom might look in that pot.

  5. Mark says:

    Hi Peter,
    Check out WABI #17 on page 25. Dramatic photo of a tall, thin multiple trunk style
    Bonsai( Maple maybe) in a similar Large Lip pot. Very ellegent in my opinion.
    Thanks for sharing your adventures!

  6. bill muldowney says:

    you inspired moi to build one …will send picture when’s 5 inches wide

  7. Lots of great ideas! I would treat this pot almost like a slab with a deep well; clumps come to mind as well as forests and multiple trunks. You could also do a penjing planting in this…good find! Have fun with it 😉

  8. bonsaijapan says:

    Really interesting pot Peter. I am sure that if you cant find a tree for it it would make a good addition to a mantle piece or display shelf.

  9. Bill McReynolds says:

    The lighter color reminds of the sand and rock formations in the western United States. The relatively low, flat aspect should lend itself well to a literati-styled tree. Plus, this pot rates something pretty special! How about a really gnarly, old and twisted, collected Rocky Mountain Juniper?

  10. Mike Arakaki says:

    Since arriving in Japan how many pots have you acquired? Seems like your collection is growing. How will you take them home? Or are you taking a one or two upon your annual return?

    • Peter Tea says:

      Hi Mike,

      I’ve acquired a good amount but still don’t have the one I need for the trees I have at home. LOL! I’m probably going to take them home one by one and ship some of the less expensive ones.

  11. Michael Markoff says:

    Indeed this is the Angelina Jolie of bonsai pots. Perhaps a heavily-tapered Trident maple; I’m not sure what tree would be compatible, unless I saw them side-by-side. Matching pots and stands with trees has given me insight (and sympathy)with my wife’s accessorizing each outfit, with just the right shoes, jewelry,etc. Call it an art unto itself.

  12. marcuswatts100 says:

    Hi Peter,

    I’d put a ‘bonsai’d bamboo in this one – nice thin peeled trunks etc

    Out of interest do you have any hints or a potential blog entry for japanese white beech and kiyohime maples ? much appreciated if you do.

    I have an English made pot with a lip to rival this one ! – you are welcome it as a gift if it interests you….(grab me via FB if u like, in your friends list) and i can send you a picture. …unless you’s like a surprise when you see it haha

    cheers Marcus

  13. Chris Cochrane says:

    A tall, thin straight trunked literati bonsai (or perhaps a grove of three) with the potted bonsai placed on a plain board slightly wider than the pot’s width & about half again as long as the pots rim. Natural edge to board end in direction of the bonsai’s visual flow. The pot has formal, feminine & light feeling… but its generous rim speaks most of open (natural) space which is less formal.

  14. Fr. Tom Davis, OSA says:

    Usually one has a tree and looks for the right pot, but this challenges that idea. My first thought for this pot was Ikebana, seeings that you mentioned it came from a flower shop. In keeping with Ikebana style, which is narrow and more upright, I’m thinking definitely something narrow and upright, bunjin style, something resembling maybe like the Monterey Cypress of the coastal northern California, with semi-narrow twisted and bent trunk, and flat top to match the lips of the pot.

  15. ED CURLEE says:

    Very unique and bold. I would love to see a tree in this pot when you use it. Thanks for the idea although I’ve never seen a pot like this either for sale or in use, but I like originality so again thanks for the idea.

  16. arihato says:

    I would put an elegant literati in it, a Spruce maybe.

  17. Sandy Vee says:

    I see a fat tree with color in this pot. I have a beni hime (with small leaves that keeps changing color) maple that would look good for color, but I don’ think my tree is fat enough… yet.

  18. Mac says:

    I’m thinking a clump of yellow stemed bamboo or a clump of Nandina or a multi trunk elm.

  19. Roger says:

    I would think of shape over species. This pot reminds me of the ground leval of a Temple. Each roof line smaller than the next, with the foliage coming to points at each level. .,………
    maybe a grand coastal readwood allowing the base (pot) to be as fascinating as it is on its own.

  20. Nathan Simmons says:

    I think a very interesting bunjin would go well with this pot. John Wang here in so cal. has one very similiar to this and he referred to it as an “Art Pot”, maybe cause it looks like a picture frame from the top looking down on it.

  21. cherylas2009 says:

    I think the lip mimics the ground. I would put something that flows upward – like a gingko in the flame style.

  22. Darth Tanuki says:

    I think any juniper that can be named dragon would look good in this pot.

  23. Jeff Aldridge says:

    My vote would be for an elegant himeshara.

  24. Adam says:

    The first thing that came to my mind is azalea

  25. Judy Barto says:

    I would put something like a chojubai quince in this pot. The flowers would be stunning with the glaze, and the low spreading branches….

    Love this pot!

  26. vonsgardens says:

    Peter, great post. Funny, I have a Japanese Black Pine in a Maruhei-in pot as well. Chop on bottom and the small chop on the bottom edge on the outside. Very similar clay and color as well. I would put an oddly shaped JBP or JWP in it!

  27. Billy M. Rhodes says:

    I think of a fairly short Ficus, with a wide spread of top. A tree that is wider than it is tall. I am in Florida so think of Ficus first.

  28. Ferdinand says:

    What about a gnarly Japanese quince? Or perhaps something like a forsythia or a magnolia?

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