Chinese scholar's rocks

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Scholar's rock, 11th century

Chinese scholars' rocks (供石 or gōngshí), also known as scholar stones or viewing stones, are small naturally shaped rocks which are traditionally valued by Chinese scholars.[1]

Scholars rocks can be any color. There are a wide variety of sizes. Scholars rocks can weigh hundreds of pounds or less than one pound.[2] The term also means stones which are placed in traditional Chinese gardens.

History[change | change source]

Four important qualities for the rocks were recognized in the Tang dynasty. They are: thinness (shou), openness (tou), perforations (lou), and wrinkling (zhou).[1]

Chinese scholar's rocks influenced the development of suseok in Korea and suiseki in Japan.[3]

Origin[change | change source]

The origin of the stone is a notable feature.

Lingbi stone feom Anhui. Ming Dynasty, 15th century

Evaluation[change | change source]

The evaluation of a scholar's rock identifies subtlety of color, shape, markings and surface. The qualities which are prized include

The stone may be displayed on a wooden base that has been carved specifically for the stone. The stones are a traditional subject of Chinese paintings.[7]

Related pages[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Metropolitan Museum of Art, "The World of Scholars' Rocks Gardens, Studios, and Paintings"; retrieved 2012-12-20.
  2. Harvard Shanghai Center, "Scholar Stone"; retrieved 2012-12-20.
  3. Brokaw, Charles. (2011). The Temple Mount Code, p. 73.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Cousins, Craig. (2006). Bonsai Master Class, p. 246.
  5. Cousins, p. 247.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 Mendelson, John. "Chinese scholars' rocks simultaneously original and simulacrum" at, 1996; retrieved 2012-12-20.
  7. Harvard Museums, "Scholar's rock", 1993 painting; Linrothe, Robert N. (2004). Paradise and Plumage: Chinese Connections in Tibetan Arhat Painting, p. 24; retrieved 2012-12-20.

Other websites[change | change source]

Media related to Scholar's rocks at Wikimedia Commons