The March 2019 meeting of the Cleveland Bonsai Club featured a presentation by member Les Allen on Suiseki, the Japanese art of stone appreciation.
Suiseki are small, naturally formed stones selected for their shape, balance, simplicity, and tranquility. They invoke a feeling, memory, or impression in the viewer and can resemble landscapes, mountains, huts, people, animals, and more.
They are usually displayed on a daiza (a wooden base custom made for that particular stone) or in a shallow tray of sand called a suiban (ceramic) or doban (bronze). The display may incorporate a stand and possibly a scroll on the wall.
Suiseki are selected based on five criteria:
- Shape – balance and proportion
- Quality of material – appearance of hardness
- Color – reflection of nature
- Surface texture – varies but should never show damage
- Age – appearance of age (patina)
Some classifications include:
- Landscape Suiseki (Sansui keijo-seki): shaped like a mountain, island, waterfall, shoreline, cave, canyon, or plateau.
- Object stones (Keisho-seki): resembling a person, animal, boat, house or bridge.
- Celestial (Gensho-seki): with patterns resembling the moon, sun or stars.
- Plant (Kigata-ishi): with patterns picturing flowers, fruits, grasses, forests or even Bonsai.
- Weather (Tenko-seki): resembling rain, intense sunlight, lightning or snow.
- Abstract (Chusho-seki): with surfaces similar to animal prints, tangled nets, etc.
Suiseki are sometimes displayed along with bonsai trees and can be valued in the thousands of dollars.