Man has been fascinated by stones throughout history. Stones have been collected and have served many purposes, from utilitarian to decorative. Their stability and enduring qualities are associated with longevity and immortality and have captivated us since time immemorial.
A Japanese term for beautiful and meaningful stones, most traditional Suiseki are often only a few inches long (and sometimes up to 18 inches or more). Shaped by wind, rain and the passing of time, these beautiful microcosms of our world suggest shapes and designs that remind us of everyday natural objects. When displayed on specially designed wood stands called daizas or trays called suibans or dobans, they become a true work of art and a spiritual inspiration to the viewer.
Stones are appreciated in Far Eastern countries as art objects - with different guidelines and names such as: Aiseki (Japanese) - appreciated stone; Shang Shi (Chinese) - elegant stone; Shang Sek (Chinese) - enjoyable stone; Ya Sek (Chinese) - exquisite elegant stone; Suseok (Korean) - stone of longevity.
Western Viewing Stones
This art form -- appreciating the natural beauty of stones -- is relatively new to the western world. Often referred to as "viewing stones," this form of stone appreciation is rapidly growing in the western world.
The interest in Viewing Stones in the Western world is primarily derived from the influence and appreciation of Suiseki in Japanese culture. In the West this interest began with Bonsai and the display of Suiseki at bonsai exhibitions, and then quickly evolved into an appreciation of the stones displayed for their own intrinsic beauty and the feelings they evoked from the viewer.
This art has been promoted in the U.S. by Japanese Masters such as John Naka on the West Coast and Yuji Yoshimura on the East Coast. Both have written books generating interest and providing a basis for collection and display of Suiseki. Mr. Yoshimura's book, written with Mr. Vincent Covello, is considered by many to be the definitive English language work on these stones. Please visit our "collectors" section for many others who have infulenced this art and added new perspectives, such as Melba Tucker, Jim Greaves, Frank English, Bill Valivanis, Felix Rivera and Jim Hayes.
Today, the art of Viewing Stones is growing as collectors add categories for the new stones they collect, often following much of the basic criteria for Japanese Suiseki. Such is the case with the marvelous "desert stones" stones found by Melba Tucker and others, and the amazing "murphys stones" found in Northern California. As viewing stone popularity continues to grow, so will the categories created and with it, the expanding appreciation of this beautiful art form.
For more information on the History of Viewing Stones, click on our links above for