Dreams in Stone 2
DREAMS IN STONE 2
Willi und Gudrun Benz
For a display or exhibition of suiseki in suiban it is important that they are placed below eye level on a shelf, a table or in a tokonoma so that the viewer can look into the pot and see the wide plain or ocean that it symbolizes. If this is neglected the symbolic contents of the display are lost.
On the other hand, I often saw suiseki displayed in a dai which were placed too low, even in Asian countries. A bonsai table with high legs can place suiseki much better, even it they are not really at eye level. Especially these Suiseki should be viewed from an angle of 10° - 20°.
Suiseki with dai should be viewed from an angle of 0° - 20° in order to properly capture the suggestive effect of the stone.
An alternative to the display method mentioned above is to place the suiseki in a pot filled with various species of short moss, similar to a Japanese moss garden. A variant of this is to cover a part of the pot’s base with moss and fill the rest with granules of a colour that corresponds to the moss.
View of a simple tokonoma with a picture scroll in the background.
Measurements of bronze and ceramic pots (japanese: suiban)
Suiban are water-tight ceramic and bronze pots for displaying suiseki. All measurements in cm. The height includes the feet of the pots.
Measurements for rectangular suiban. For oval suiban the measurements are specified in a similar way as length l, width w and height h.
a) Ceramic pots
|46||28||3 - 5|
|50||27||3 - 4|
|53||29||3 - 4|
|58||27||3 - 4|
|60||23 - 32||3 - 5|
|64||20 - 35||3 - 5|
|71||25 - 40||4 - 7|
|80||30||5 - 6|
|85||35 - 45||5 - 6|
|45||27 - 30||3|
|50||30 - 32||3|
|55||32||3 - 4|
|60||38 - 42||3 - 4|
|65||37||4 - 5|
|71||40||4 - 5|
|75||45 - 48||4 - 5|
|85||50||6 - 7|
b) Bronze Pots
|40||18 - 22||2 - 2.5|
|45||18 - 28||2 - 3|
|55||30 - 35||3 - 4|
|75||42- 52||4 - 6|
|80||48||6 - 7|
|45||23||2 - 3|
|50||22 - 32||3|
|75||45 - 47||4|
|80||45 - 50||6 - 7|
The height of the pots’ feet is between 3 mm and 10 mm. When choosing a suiban, the relation of the stone’s height to the height of the pot’s wall should be about 4 : 1 to 10 : 1, which means that the stone is four to ten times higher than the pot’s wall. The relation of the suiban’s length to the stone’s length should be 2 : 1 to 2.5 : 1.
If the pot is placed on a table or board the relation of the table height to the suiseki’s should be between 2 : 1 and 8 : 1, which means the table should be two to eight times higher than the suiseki.
The length of the table depends on the length of the pot; the table should be 1.5 to 2 times longer than the pot.
If the pot is placed on a reed mat or a wooden slab, this should be at least 15% to 30% longer than the pot.
The large areas around the stone only filled with granules convey the image of a wide plain (collection of Ryuseki Nakayama). The stone is classified among the slope stones.
Here are some more nice examples.
“Black is beautiful” would be a good name for this deeply black stone with a shade of blue. The stone found near Padang on West-Sumatra is placed in a suiban by Peter Krebs. Stones from this area are known for their good quality and are highly appreciated by Korean, Taiwanese and Japanese collectors. Measurements: 26cm x 14 cm x 20 cm.
This 19 cm long water basin stone was found in Java. The crab by its side suggests water even when the stone is not filled with water.
The “Island of the thousand Flowers” is placed in a ceramic suiban by Peter Krebs. The stone was found in the Red River (south China) in a depth of 20 m. Measurements: 38 cm x 15 cm x 18 cm.
“Causse Noire” is another stone from Liguria, Italy. It is placed in a suiban by Peter Krebs. Measurements: 36 cm x 10 cm x 8 cm.
“Green Island of the Thousand Caves”. In many Asian countries the term “thousand” just means “a lot”. This is an island stone, serpentin material, of very good quality in a suiban from Tokonome, Japan. Found in Sumatra; Measurements: 33 cm x 22 cm x 14 cm.
In the following pictures you can see a few nice doban.
“Holy Lake of Batur” (Bali) is a landscape stone of excellent quality. The cavity in the stone can be filled with water and symbolizes the holy lake. The stone is placed in an old doban. Measurements: 23 cm x 16 cm x 10 cm.
A particularly beautiful black stone with brown pattern in a bronze suiban filled with white granules. Such noble bronze pots are only used for noble stones. Note the small tunnel at the base just right of the middle (Paiman collection / Jakarta).
“The Water of Life” perfectly describes this water basin stone in a Korean doban (bronze pot). The stone is from Sumatra. Measurements: 20 cm x 15 cm x 9 cm.
Text and photographs by Willi Benz
Extracts from his books “The Art of Suiseki” and “Asiatische Kunst mit schönen Steinen / The Asian Art of Beautiful Stones” (text in German and English).
The German editions of these books can be obtained from the publisher WILLI BENZ.
Translation: Heike van Gunst