Today we are going to talk about small suiban and dobans.  Often these terms are used interchangeably and that is incorrect.  Both are for the same purpose, that is of displaying stones often in sand or water.  The suiban is made of ceramic and the doban of copper or bronze.

We have numerous suibans and dobans in our collection and it would be hard to say which we prefer as there are some beautiful suibans with very nice glazes.  One has to be quite careful that the glazed suiban doesn’t “over power” the stone as this would be a display mistake in the same way a pot shouldn’t over power a bonsai tree or a diaza to a stone.

Doban by Harada Houn

Doban by Harada Houn (11cm x 7.1 x 1cm)

His real name is Harada Kenkichi and he was born in 1898 and dies in 1973.  His dobans are made by the lost-wax metal-casting method and his skills are greatly appreciated.

Harada Houn (11cm x 7.1 x 1cm)

Harada Houn (11cm x 7.1 x 1cm)

The patina on this old doban is just incredible.  This copper doban can be seen on page 40 of the book Miyabi from the Gafu-ten.

Harada Houn Doban

Harada Houn Doban

This is a very rare doban as he made very few small copper dobans like the one pictured above.  This doban principally is displayed in our home, but if we find just the right stone we might show it in our suiseki club show.

Japanese Bronze Doban (18cm)

Japanese Bronze Doban (18cm)

We believe this is a bronze doban rather than copper due to the finish and patina; however, it may be copper but there are little signs of the “greenish” tint that older copper dobans display.  We were struck by the beautifully smooth patina on this doban and once again are in search of just the right stone to display in it. A small waterfall stone would be our first choice but also a stone representing a sea cliff or a small island stone would work well.

Next lets look at a few suibans.  The first issue we want to talk about is the difficulty finding small suitable suibans. In some cases we have resorted to using bonsai pots and covering the holes with cardboard thus allowing us to fill the pot with sand and then using it as a suiban.

Suiban by Aiba Kouichirou (19cm)

Suiban by Aiba Kouichirou (19cm)

A very shallow suiban but with a beautiful glaze.

Suiban by Aiba Kouichirou (19cm)

Suiban by Aiba Kouichirou (19cm)

The next few photo are bonsai pots but we use them as suiban when needed.

Bonsai Pot being used as a Suiban

Bonsai Pot being used as a Suiban

Bonsai pot by Hattori Tomoyuki (15cm)

Bonsai pot by Hattori Tomoyuki (15cm)

A Yamaaki Bonsai Pot being used as a Suiban (12cm)

A Yamaaki Bonsai Pot being used as a Suiban (12cm)

We purchased this pot at a bonsai show. It is a relatively new Yamaaki bonsai pot. Frankly we never thought we would use it for bonsai because of its size but it does work well as a small suiban.  If you look carefully you can see the cardboard cut-out in the pot.

Another Yamaaki Bonsai Pot being used as a Suiban (19cm)

Another Yamaaki Bonsai Pot being used as a Suiban (19cm)

Even though we are not so fond of using unglazed suibans occasionally this pot can be used as a suiban under the right circumstances.  It is being shown primarily to invoke you to think about how you can substitute other pots for a suiban when required.

KJ and I continue to search for high quality but small suibans with only an occasional find.  The Aiba Kouichirou suiban we found on a bonsai site that frankly never carried suibans in all the time we have visited the site. They must have been selling this suiban for a customer as it certainly isn’t new.  However, it was a real find based on how long it has been since we have found anything similar.

Well this is our last post for 2010.  It seems like only yesterday we were preparing for our trip to Japan.  Unfortunately, it will be 2012 until we return but we look forward to the trip even though it is over a year away.

We hope that you have had a good 2010 and that 2011 is even better. Our warmest wishes to all of you.

Happy New Year!

Sam and KJ

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