Juniper Jin and Pine Jin-
A month ago we started talking about pine jin. Here are some photos and thoughts about pine and juniper jin and how they differ.
This is a pine jin. It looks cut off, doesn’t it? But it’s never been touched. This is what a dead pine branch will do if left to its own devices, checks develop in it, and when old enough the end will fall off and it looks severed. Dead juniper branches don’t do this.
Juniper jin. Notice the cracking is lengthwise. And because on juniper it’s striated like this, it affects the tip of the jin and what that looks like.
Juniper jin, getting nobbly in its old age, but not broken-looking, like a pine.
Another natural pine jin. The broken appearance.
Juniper jin, not checkered, and still striated.
Naturally, as these photos show, pine jin is broken and not sharp, and juniper jin is eroded and comparatively sharper (but often not as sharp as some of us make our jin). One could certainly make the argument that a sharp jin is more in line with what bonsai scale would dictate. And yet when we see the craggy erosion of jin on our collected trees, which may have been exposed for many decades, a dichotomy emerges.
Here is the choice: Either we carve our jins to be sharp and in scale, or we leave them less pointed and more in tune with the close-up virtues of old wood, which is checked and eroded blunt from exposure to sun and microbial breakdown. It seems to me the most natural course is to not to whittle our jins to the vanishing point, very sharp, as if that is assumed. We have two distinct parts, a small tree, and a piece of dead wood. One is viewed as if from afar. The other, from up close. Bonsai is famous for duality and how the minuscule can represent the macroscopic and vice versa, and how we handle our deadwood gives this scale shift one more possible expression.
These comments were inspired by seeing old deadwood that weathered naturally, and not having the heart to damage the natural textures and erosion of particularly their ends, by nibbling at them with a tool to make them sharper, or have more taper. As I’ve looked at these trees, I’ve enjoyed the tension which plays between the small tree and the stubbier nubs of jin. But, it is not in scale, which not everyone will like.
The other reason this makes sense to me is that many of the trees that have jin, junipers and such, are often not really designed to look like trees. They are abstract living objects. And on those bonsai, leaving alone old jin that was created by nature can be a more arguable position.