The word Suiseki is the name for the Japanese form of the Asian art of natural stone appreciation. Suiseki are natural sculptures carved by the forces of water and wind which evoke images of natural scenes such as mountains, lakes, or human and animal figures. When we keep suiseki in our homes, we bring nature close to our being. Contemplation of the stones helps relax our minds and relieves the stress of daily life.
Suiseki stones are displayed as they are found in nature. They should not be modified, although in some cases the artist may make a single cut to enhance the proportions and balance of the stone. They are usually displayed either on carved wooden bases (daiza) or in shallow ceramic or metal trays (suiban).
The display and appreciation of natural stones was introduced to Japan from China in about the 7th century A.D. and was gradually adapted to Japanese taste and culture. Suiseki, along with other types of viewing stones, are now admired and collected around the world.
Weathered, dark-colored stones of medium hardness are preferred, with no jagged “new” edges. Here in California, fine quality stones suitable for suiseki are found in several rivers and lakes as well as in some desert areas. Most of these collecting locations are in Northern California and are easily accessible from the Bay Area.