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Stone Comparison

Characteristics Classical Chinese Scholars' Rocks Classical Japanese Suiseki Korean Suseok Western Viewing Stones
Historical Origins Indigenous Imported from China Imported from China Imported from Japan, and more recently China
Philosophical/ Religious Origins Taoism, Yin-Yang Shinto, Zen Buddhism, Confucianism Unknown None
Size Small to very big Small Small Small to medium
Hardness Soft to hard Hard to very hard Hard Soft to hard
Color Light to dark Dark Dark Usually dark
Suggestiveness Explicit, dramatic Implicit, subtle Implicit, subtle Ususally subtle
Texture Usually smooth Smooth Smooth Usually smooth
Emotional Feeling Movement, dynamic energy Quiet, serene Quiet, serene Usually quiet, serene
Aesthetic Balance All sides of stone or front only All sides of stone All sides of stone or front only All sides of stone
Alterations Minimal to extensive None to minimal (e.g., cutting, carving, bluing) None None to minimal
Tray Display Stone or ceramic tray filled with water Ceramic tray filled with sand, water or both Ceramic tray filled with sand, water or both Ceramic tray filled with sand, water or bothl
Wooden Stand Display Complex, dramatic or simple, unobtrusive Simple, unobtrusive Simple, unobtrusive Simple, unobtrusive
Display Accessories Minimal to extensive None to minimal None None to minimal
Number of Stones in Display Normally one One Normally one Normally one
Room display High table, shelf or desk Historically - alcove or tokonoma, Modern - shelf, desk Unknown Display case, desk or shelf
Orientation Horizontal and vertical Horizontal Horizontal and vertical Normally horizontal
Name for Stone Infrequent, except older stones Frequent - poetic or evocative Occasional Occasional
Classification System Basic Complex Extensive Extensive

Although the first comparison chart of Chinese, Japanese and Western stones was created by Dr. Vincent Covello, I have departed from that initial chart considerably. I have added Korean stones and changed many of the characteristics of Chinese rocks. I have done this because, based on the attributes shown in Dr. Covello's chart, I feel he was speaking as much to Penjing as to Scholars' Rocks - and I want to exclude Penjing.

Additional changes include changing the title of Chinese stones from Classical Chinese Viewing Stones to Classical Chinese Scholars' Rocks. The reason for this is simply that I did not want 'Classical' Chinese stones confused with Western viewing stones.









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