Bonsai plants are famous for their small, intricate shapes and their exotic appeal. But did you know there’s a lot of ancient lore about the supposed magical powers of these tiny trees? Did you know that bonsai trees play a central role in multiple mythological tales of gods, monsters and heroes? Here are some of the most intriguing examples.
In ancient India, bonsai trees were believed to be inhabited by benevolent spirits. People would place them in the corners of rooms and on balconies in order to draw good luck and spiritual blessings. Different species of trees were said to grant different types of blessings; for example, bonsai willow trees were used to help widows deal with the grieving process.
There are several tales from ancient Japan where heroes use bonsai trees to outwit monsters. Typically, these involve the hero making a bet with the monster about the smallest tree in the forest. Unbeknownst to the monster, the hero has hidden a bonsai tree somewhere in the forest.
Bonsai trees are also important in Chinese mythology. When the Celestial Emperor first took the Throne of Heaven, forest spirits from across the Middle Kingdom presented him with bonsai trees to represent their submission to his authority.
Still bored? Click to continue: Miniature Wire Bonsai Trees by Ken To