Chinese scholar's rocks

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Gongshi (Scholar's rock) in Wenmiao temple, Shanghai

Chinese scholars' rocks (Chinese: 供石; pinyin: gōngshí), also known as scholar stones or viewing stones, are small naturally occurring or shaped rocks which are traditionally appreciated by Chinese scholars.[1]

Scholars rocks can be any color; and contrasting colors are not uncommon. The size of the stone can also be quite varied: scholars rocks can weigh either hundreds of pounds or less than one pound.[2] The term also identifies stones which are placed in traditional Chinese gardens.

History[edit]

In the Tang dynasty, a set of four important qualities for the rocks were recognized. They are: thinness (shou), openness (tou), perforations (lou), and wrinkling (zhou).[1]

Chinese scholar's rocks influenced the development of Korean suseok and Japanese suiseki.[3]

Origin[edit]

The origin of the stone is a notable feature.

Lingbi stone feom Anhui. Ming Dynasty, 15th century

Evaluation[edit]

The evaluation of a scholar's rock identifies subtlety of color, shape, markings, surface, and sound. The overall array of qualities which are prized include

  • awkwardness or overhanging asymmetry[6]
  • resonance or ringing when struck[6]
  • representation or resemblance to landscape or figure[6]
  • texture[6]
  • moistness or glossy surface[6]
Scholar's rock illustration, 11th century

The stone may be displayed on a rosewood pedestal that has been carved specifically for the stone. The stones are a traditional subject of Chinese paintings.[7]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Metropolitan Museum of Art, "The World of Scholars' Rocks Gardens, Studios, and Paintings"; retrieved 2012-12-20.
  2. ^ Harvard Shanghai Center, "Scholar Stone"; retrieved 2012-12-20.
  3. ^ Brokaw, Charles. (2011). The Temple Mount Code, p. 73.
  4. ^ a b Cousins, Craig. (2006). Bonsai Master Class, p. 246.
  5. ^ Cousins, p. 247.
  6. ^ a b c d e Mendelson, John. "Chinese scholars' rocks simultaneously original and simulacrum" at ArtNet.com, 1996; retrieved 2012-12-20>
  7. ^ Harvard Museums, "Scholar's rock", 1993 painting; Linrothe, Robert N. (2004). Paradise and Plumage: Chinese Connections in Tibetan Arhat Painting, p. 24; retrieved 2012-12-20.

Further reading[edit]

  • Little, Stephen, Spirit stones of China, the Ian and Susan Wilson collection of Chinese stones, paintings, and related scholars' objects, Chicago, Art Institute of Chicago, 1999, ISBN 0-86559-173-3

External links[edit]

Media related to Scholar's rocks at Wikimedia Commons