Viewing Stone History

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 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.

Appreciation of this art was accelerated in the United States by Japanese Masters such as John Naka on the West Coast and Yuji Yoshimura on the East Coast. Both of these men wrote books that gave interested persons 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. Other masters such as Melba Tucker, Jim Greaves, Frank English, Bill Valivanis, Felix Rivera and Jim Hayes learned and grew from these teachings and added new dimensions to the art.

More recently, interest has also increased in the types of stones and rocks venerated by Chinese literati. Scholarly treatises and catalogues of the "Spirit Rock" collection owned by Ian & Susan Wilson, and the "Scholar Rock" collection of Richard Rosenblum have re-ignited the imaginations of many Americans and people around the world to the endless possibilities of these natural wonders. The book, The Spirit of Gongshi, by Kemin Hu significantly added dimensions to this art by displaying ancient rocks from various collections throughout China and the rest of the world.

Viewing Stones encompass each of these arts. Suiseki in Japan, and Scholar’s Rocks in China, are separate art forms distinctive to those countries and cultures. Viewing Stones include those arts and add types of stones found in neither. The art of Viewing Stones includes stones and rocks from around the world, from a multitude of cultures and environmental extremes. Currently there are no boundaries or specific guidelines to say what is or is not a Viewing Stone. In general, many enthusiasts use the basic criteria for Suiseki and try to add variants for the new stones they collect. However, in practice this will only go so far, and then new categories will have to be added. Such is the case with the marvelous stones found in the desert by Melba Tucker and others. Some collectors advocate simply adding another category called "Desert Stones". Others prefer to incorporate these stones into the existing Suiseki categories with "desert stones" only including those that absolutely do not fit any existing categories. At present it is simply a matter of personal preference. However, the information in Viewing Stone Classification on this site can be used as a starting point for anyone interested in this art.

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