About |水石 Suiseki
Suiseki (sui = water, seki = stone.) Suiseki is a sophisticated and very refined sculptural art form that dates back to 1000 AD; it is an in-depth study and a personal quest for naturally formed stones as objects of art. Suiseki involves the collection, preparation and appreciation of unaltered naturally formed stones. These art treasures are discovered in riverbeds, creeks and streams, on windswept deserts, forest floors, along ocean beaches, and anywhere nature may have shaped and left them.
Japanese Suiseki is a delicate and traditional art form which represents even more than art—it also represents a process, a feeling, a relationship between the object and the viewer. These sensuous and meaningful stones are often only several inches long up to 12 inches. Larger stones are considered garden rocks. Created by wind, rain and the passing of time, these amazing microcosms of our world suggest shapes and designs that remind us of everyday natural objects. When displayed on specially designed carved wood stands called daiza, or in trays (filled with sand representative of water) called suiban or doban, they become a fine work of art and are truly a great spiritual inspiration to whoever views them.
an'ya's Suiseki are priceless, and displayed in native sand and/or water from whence they came out of Oregon's Willamette River. They are understated, uncut river and/or beach stones that follow formal Japanese tradition, as does an'ya's tanka, (albeit and with respect), she has combined these two art forms in a more non-traditional and informal manner of Suiseki inspired by her own interpretations , thus let it be known to each viewer, to feel free to find their very own and possibly quite different interpretations.
Her stones were exhibited in June, 2011 at the Liberty Theater Gallery for "Bend Haiku Weekend" and the downtown Bend First Friday Art Walk, In 2012 others of them were displayed at the Emerald Art Center Gallery in Springfield, Oregon for an'ya's Japanese mixed-media Exhibit at the Second Friday Art Walk and for the entire month of June. In 2013, her Suiseki were exhibited at the gallery for the Eugene, Oregon Asian Celebration. They were all found in our eco-rich State of Oregon, and represent but a small part of her larger Suiseki collection.
Suiseki in Oregon by an'ya
Oregon is a bountiful green state with a multitude of rivers and tributaries, where there exists a small exclusive club of collectors (two out of six) who have presented their stones to the public at art galleries (in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013) throughout this state. Collectively, we believe that Suiseki as an integral part of art, presents the cathartic spirit of Japanese aesthetics via shapes sculpted by and found in the natural world. Allowing oneself to be “one with nature” through viewing a rock, while experiencing not the collector’s creativity, rather an artist’s reawakening. A way to view life, enjoy its nuances, seek the moment, stay in that moment; to embrace the whole universe through something as small and simple as a stone. We feel that if viewers are granted access to the individual unconscious practice of active imagination, this transformation of egotistic to ego-less will facilitate inner peace, and a desire to return again and again to each stone.
Whenever possible although sometimes not, our showings are on low tables rather than the standard height folding tables, and zabuton on tatami mats are provided for sitting or kneeling on, which encourages people to stop long enough and thoroughly contemplate the presentation. Have you ever been to a vet who sits on the floor with your dog and the dog always becomes that vet’s very best friend instead of your best friend! We use this same principle for displaying, as influence must be able to directly enter the most impermeable spirit, after the manner in which, over time, the river water penetrates a stone. After the experience of viewing Suiseki in depth, it is our belief that people will depart, taking up their old way of life, detaching themselves completely from that which has given them a new birth, so to speak; but bearing within themselves the concept of mono no aware, which has implanted itself without their will, and by which shall by slow degrees, develop itself in the form of a desire to find and pick up their first stone.
Other ways of thinking might call such presentation impulsive, but we feel in order to pass on this time-honored genre in a way complete enough to exercise its benevolent effect over others, that it may be possible to suggest the yugen able to call men back from the realm of mundane; we believe it is indisputable that this altruism must be presented as it radiates from our innermost artistic souls, like the Japanese style mist that rises from any Oregon river on any given morning.
(Published in the California Aiseki Kai Newsletter Volume 31, Issue 10 October 2013)
History of Japanese Suiseki
Between 592-628, the Japanese Empress Regent Suiko received the first Penjing and Gongshi from the Chinese imperial court. Magically shaped with holes, hollows and highly eroded surfaces, they were very interesting to the Japanese aristocracy. These vertical stones, representative of the imposing mountains and cliffs of China, remained popular in Japan for hundreds of years.
The Samurai warrior class rose to power in Japan during the Kamakura period (1183-1333), and trade between China and Japan had brought the teachings of Zen Buddhism which won wide acceptance with the Samurai. With the acceptance of Zen Buddhism, stones with more subtle lines became highly sought -- in keeping with the Buddhist teachings of austerity, intuitive insight and meditation.
During the Muramachi period (1338-1573), Zen monks influenced the Japanese aristocracy and sought stones that were simple with subtle details, in line with these teachings -- stones that were suggestive rather than precise. These stones became a means to spiritual refinement, inner awareness, and enlightenment.
The rise of wealthy merchants during the Edo period (1603-1867) saw increased interest in Suiseki and there began a competition for these stones between the aristocracy and merchants. At this time, Japan had closed their borders to the outside world, bringing a period of isolation that allowed their arts to flourish without outside interference.
Due to a decrease in wealth of the nobility and the Samurai during the Meiji period (1868-1912), the art remained somewhat stagnant in many ways. But this period also saw the development of Suiseki classifications still in use today.
Thereafter, interest in Suiseki has renewed and expanded throughout the twentieth century, and has grown into a multi-cultural art in the international community with widespread interest with Suiseki associations throughout the world.