Jeffrey Holmes' Viewing Stone Page. An Asian art page providing information, images and links relating to suiseki, scholar's rocks, penjing, sosuk and viewing stones; Japanese Suiseki Glossary
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Penjing Glossary

One of the primary problems I had when first learning about penjing was understanding the terms and their intended use. I would often find a Chinese word without any explanation or used so that I actually became more confused. Over time the terminology has begun to clear up (although there are still instances where I see the words used in unusual ways) and I thought a glossary would be of use to other penjing enthusiasts. I hope it does help.

These terms are listed alphabetically. Keep in mind that Chinese terms will refer to all three types of penjing; tree, landscape, and water and land. For use of each term relating to classification in classification order, see the Penjing Classification page.


Penjing. Container scenery. This term refers to the overall art of creating a miniature landscape in a container. The word pen means "pot" or "container" and the word jing means "scenery". For descriptions of the three types of penjing, see shumu penjing, shanshui penjing, and shuihan penjing.

Shuihan penjing. Water and land penjing. This type penjing combines trees, stones, soil, mosses and other plants in an overall composition that resembles a natural scene in nature. Usually some space is left uncovered, or covered with fine sand to represent water.

Shumu penjing. Tree penjing. Dwarfed, woody plants grown in a container. Similar to Japanese bonsai, but with different styles.

Shanshui penjing. Landscape penjing. These are also known as "Mountain and water penjing". This type composition primarily uses tall, vertical stones to represent mountains with the remaining space in the container or slab left empty to represent water. Often small trees are added on the mountains to represent the trees growing in isolated clefts of real mountains.

Qi. The vital force pervading the cosmos. Sometimes referred to as chi.

Weixing penjing. Miniature tree penjing.

Shan. Mountain.

Shui. Water.

Shan shui. Landscape.

Yang. The positive aspect of cosmic energy.

Yin. The negative aspect of cosmic energy.


Albert, Karin, International Bonsai, 1998/No.2-1999

Zhao, Qingquan 'Brook', Interview by Karin Albert, Bonsai With Tropicals, 1998

Zhao, Qingquan 'Brook', Interviews by Karin Albert, Bonsai Clubs International Magazine, May/June 1991 and July/August 1992

Albert, Karin, Rocks and Rock Landscapes, Bonsai Clubs International Magazine, Sept/Oct 1988

Albert, Karin, Mountains and Water in Chinese Art, Bonsai Clubs International Magazine, Sept/Oct 1988

Penjing - A 1000-Year old Art, (ed),, 1999

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