A month or so ago we were looking at a number of bronze suibans we have that are approximately 9cm in length. This means we need a stone no larger than around 5-6cm in length to display. Finding any stone worth putting in a doban is difficult but to find a good stone this size is a formidable task. We always look for small stones when we collect but to date have found nothing of the quality that we would hope to display.
So we reached out to David Sampson in the UK and he came to the rescue, so to speak, and provided us with numerous nice choices. Please visit his site by clicking here: www.djsampson.com.
All nice stones by the way, but the one we truly appreciated and desired for our collection is shown below.
Please click the photo for a larger view. I was about to place it into a doban when I recalled a nice pot hidden away in another room. We had purchased this pot some 5-6 years ago and had yet to find a use for it. The suiban is a bit taller than I would like for this stone but I do enjoy the way they compliment each other.
The stone has a wonderful old patina. The source river where it was collected is unknown but I have seen a number of very black stones from the Setawawa, but who knows where this one came from. David shared that he believes it might have been used originally in bonseki as it is quite an old stone (meaning it was collected some time ago) and since the bottom is cut but not finished that would lead me to conclude the same thing.
“Bonseki (盆石; lit., tray rocks) is the ancient Japanese art of creating miniature landscapes on black lacquer trays using white sand, pebbles, and small rocks. Small delicate tools are used in Bonseki such as feathers, small flax brooms, sifters, spoons and wood wedges. The trays are either oval or rectangular, measuring about 60 by 35 centimeters in size. Oval trays have a low rim while rectangular ones are flat.
Bonseki scenes often depict mountains, seashores, and gardens. Small stones are used to represent mountains, shore lines or rocky islands that waves break upon. Miniature structures, usually of painted copper, are sometimes added to the work to make houses, temples, bridges, and the like.” – Wikipedia
We love this stone due to the ruggedness and overall good shape. Let’s take a closer look at the stone.
Great texture, shape and patina. Incredible considering the stone is 6.7cm or ~2.6 inches in length. It looks to us like a shore stone drenched in sea water from the rising wave.
For the stone to also have an excellent back is a real blessing. Nicely textured, with a gentle natural slope down the back. It is very pleasing to the eye.
This photo shows it in a daiza made many years ago. We can tell from the quality of the stand and because there aren’t any feet. Perhaps another clue this was used for bonseki rather than suiseki.
We believe this stone is a little treasure. We will update the post once we pull out a suitable doban and shoot another sequence of photos.
Again many thanks to David Sampson for allowing us to acquire this stone.
Sam and KJ