What is Suiseki?
What is Suiseki? Suiseki (sui = water and seki= stone) is the Japanese name for miniature, naturally formed stones that have the power and beauty to suggest a scene from nature or object closely associated with nature. They are also known as ‘Viewing Stones’ and ‘Scholar Stones.’

The most popular types of Suiseki are those stones that suggest a mountain, an island, a waterfall, thatched hut or a human or animal figure.

These stones are found in Mountain Rivers and streams, on windblown deserts, along ocean shorelines, and anywhere the forces of time and nature have formed and left them.

The Suiseki collector will choose from among countless stones that are examined for themes that represent a resemblance to familiar scenes in nature or other objects of beauty found in the natural world.

To the Japanese collector
the essence of Suiseki is more than just representational. It is also spiritual. Quoting from a pamphlet of the San Francisco Suiseki Kai, "The contemplation of a stone as a symbol of nature relaxes the mind from the pressures of a complex daily life and allows a person to retain his sense of values. The importance of life in its simplest form is reflected through the beauty, strength and character of the stone."

There are three main category groupings in Suiseki.The first and most popular being the Scenic Landscape Stones. They may evoke impressions of near and distant mountains, islands, waterfalls, caves, river-formed terraces, lakes and other examples of natural topography.

Object Stones constitute another primary grouping. Included are stones resembling man-made objects such as boats, bridges and old Japanese thatched huts. Also prized are animal-shaped stones, bird stones, and stones that resemble fish and human figures.

Pattern Stones make up a third category. They are valued for their unique surface patterns resulting from variations in color, unusual texture and contrasting mineral inclusions. Best known of this group are the beautiful Japanese chrysanthemum stones. Others include tiger-striped stones, celestial (sun/moon/star) patterned stones, abstract pattern stones, and figure embedded stones.