Information regarding dobans, field guide to identify stones and other questions

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Information regarding dobans, field guide to identify stones and other questions

Post  kdurais on Sun Jul 15, 2012 11:27 pm

Hi everyone, I am new to this forum and a downright novice in the world of Suiseki. I have been, and I assume it holds true of most of you here, an ardent pebble picker from a very early age. Very recently, I chanced upon an article on Suiseki and have been hooked ever since. I have subsequently bought a couple of books on the topic and have read most of the discussions on this forum. The discussions on this forum have been of a very high standard and I have hugely benefited from it.

I decided to engage the members of this forum with this post at this juncture precisely because as a novice and new convert I am conflicted with two opposing points of view. One, as an outsider looking in at Suiseki as a construct and critical of its overt insistence on tradition as adjudicated by the Japanese; two, as a recent convert, eager to follow things to the letter. Simply put, I am bloody confused. Scorning at Suiseki for its rigidness blinds me from seeing the nuances and essence of the Japanese way and philosophy and the downside of the second line of thought is that it forces me to toss back into the river beautiful stones (that don''t make the grade as Suiseki) that I would have otherwise pocketed.

A case could be made for both, I suppose. Given that Suiseki (stone appreciation, rather) traces its origins to China, the Chinese, if anyone, should have rights to write the ground rules on what is worth collecting and what is not. Not the Japanese. Sticklers of tradition can't make a case for the Japanese dictating terms. This then frees one to collect what one perceives as a beautiful stone, polish it as one would seem fit, and display it in a way that does justice to the stone. One should not be bogged down by standards; albeit standards set by someone who has no doubt raised the profile of this art form. Stated otherwise, one should feel free to assimilate the best of what is available. At this point, I seem to side with this ideology simply because I am wonder struck by the stones in "Peterbrod's" collection. The following analogy, if you will indulge me, sums it up for me. Diamonds were mined in India for centuries before others woke up to their beauty and luster. The Indians used predominately what is called a 'lasque cut' in all of their ornamentation. This is a rather dour flat cut that does not do any justice to the diamond whatsoever. Not to belabor the point, just because something was done in a certain way for centuries that in itself should not implicitly qualify it for an exalted status. What tickles me most is the issue of patina. Could it be that the Japanese espoused the hand rubbing technique simply because mechanical polishing of the kind that exists today was simply not available back then? A patina is a patina. If tossing the stones in an oven to dry them out gives the stone the desired patina in double quick time, so be it. Also, a stones pedigree should not, in my mind, be given the mileage it is currently accorded. Even assuming a stone has been passed down five generations, the time it spent in someone's loving care is dwarfed by the age of the stone itself. To fret over who possessed it is akin to paying millions for a glove simply because Michael Jackson once wore it. A similar case can be made for the location where the stone was picked. To move the spotlight away from the stone, to me, is a cardinal sin. Lastly, some things have a universal appeal while some others simply don't lend itself easily to a wider audience. Ladles placed next to water bodies resonate more with a Japanese audience simply because it was/is their way of life. Staying true to Suiseki and looking for stones that can hold water and placing ladles on them seems hollow given that I can't identify myself with that aspect of their culture.

On the other hand to side with Suiseki as it exists today, it suffices to say that it is a refined art form wherein a glossy stone is rightly not accorded its due for one does not come across a gleaming mountain range, plateau or island. The aesthetics of the display, the minimalism, the art of the daiza are all truly beyond compare. Pure magic.

I will soon post pictures of some of the stones I picked up. A critical evaluation would be greatly appreciated.

On a totally unrelated note, I have looked around extensively for dobans (not suibans) with no luck. I can't find it on ebay even. Can the members point me in the right direction? Also, is there a good field guide to help identify the stones/pebbles one encounters?

Thank you.

Regards,
Karthik

kdurais
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Re: Information regarding dobans, field guide to identify stones and other questions

Post  dick benbow on Tue Jul 17, 2012 2:46 pm

A lot of the hobby of suiseki is finding your own nitch in it. I've gone to events where individuals have studied in japan on the subject for years and as you studied the progression of teachers, each learned from their master yet added something of themselves along the way. As it should be. This direct hand me down of knowledge is quite rare in other japanese hobby circles where many master have many ideas and their students often clash with each other making learning the rules difficult because the pathway is not as clear.

I love dobans, but can't afford them. I've had to settle on suibans instead. One in our group ( a retired Dr.) has traveled the world and picked up a few incredible pieces. I have not found anything available nationally but know the price paid for the few the good Dr has and it's in a different league then I am in, in my retirerment years. The club has gone as far as to located someone who has experience casting metals and we are in discussions with him to produce something we can have readily available to us. The quality and acceptance, yet to be seen.

I have numerous books on suiseki, but enjoy and rely on those created by the late Willi Benz. I have a ginormous library on things japanese. In my quest for knowledge, even the smallest tidbit adds to my overall understanding so I usually end up with anything and everything I can find on the subject.

I enjoyed your introduction and explaination about being lead into this hobby by what came as a natural interest in and seemingly a natural impulse we all share to collect. Smile

dick benbow
Member


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Re: Information regarding dobans, field guide to identify stones and other questions

Post  Andre Beaurain on Wed Jul 18, 2012 11:11 am

Welcome Karthik

Its just a matter of Taste. I think stick to the rules when entering a competition, because the rules makes it interesting. But nothing stops you from doing whatever you please at home.

About the patina of Natural stones, I'm affraid I differ from you here. Natural patina has an almost matt- oily finish, where as mecanical polishing gives a gloss finish. Not the same thing. For me.
Altough one of my favourite stones is polished, and lives by my drawing board in my office, my Ocean touch stone, It makes me calm, it makes me think of being under water in the Red sea, turqoise cristal clear water..... this stone , I think, is mecanically polished. But I love it.



What I do agree with.....


Ladles placed next to water bodies resonate more with a Japanese audience simply because it was/is their way of life. Staying true to Suiseki and looking for stones that can hold water and placing ladles on them seems hollow given that I can't identify myself with that aspect of their culture.

I know havnt they ever heard of a TAP... Laughing Laughing
This stone comes from Katbakkiesbos in Namaqualand. Its almost so perfectly square that it looks like a real Basin... so I found this tiny tap on the Sunday flea market, The block of wood its on, has sentimental value, so the whole display has double meanings.




I would never have put this on here, for I know that there is a million things wrong with it according to the book, but this was the hole diaplay over the weekend.....See one can break all the rules and still have fun.
The actual thing that was on display for the weekend was the Orchid in the middle, in full flower! It only consists of roots and Flowers! Microcoelia exilis. The bonsai and Basin stone was to add to the Orchid. Not convetional adall. But my friends loved it.... or were they only trying to be nice.... Laughing Laughing Laughing




Love and light
Andre


Andre Beaurain
Member


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Re: Information regarding dobans, field guide to identify stones and other questions

Post  Guest on Wed Jul 18, 2012 1:47 pm

Hi Andre and Karthik

I love your display with the basin and the tap Smile....and to keep a display like this at home, and not bring it to a exhibition is a good idea.

About the patina......stones can have patina when found in the nature.

But the patina you give to suiseki is diffrent. yoseki is the name of this game.....yoseki is first given in the garden. Exposed to the sun and rain/watering makes the stone darker, and softer stones erode a little, wich add to the stones age, and give a nicer surface/feeling.

The indoor yoseki can be started up already in the garden with rubbing with a cottoncloth, after a while will it give the gloss you talk about to a hard stone, and also to a semihard.....the indoor yoseki is given year after year indoor, and will eventully become really deep.
I expect this is what you think can be done with a machine in 10 minutes....I know some do this, but I have never used a machine, so I can not tell you if there is a diffrence or not.
It is said a person into suiseki will see it right away....My stones patina/indoor yoseki is becomming better and better, and the next time I am in a exhibition will I check out stones to see, as I now can compare.

Suiseki is a state of mind for me, how other people want to collect theese stones is their bussines.

Check out my 3 stones in the topic from Oles Camp.....the black stone is a granit very hard, only indoor yoseki has been used here.....The light brown stone is semihard, it also takes the indoor yoseki well...the last stone with the yellow granitfrog does not really have a nice surface, when rubbing very hard will small sand fall off, and keep the stone like it was...this stone does not gloss up......had it been a landskapestone, had i used it for weath suiban only, but this is a paternstone with a very nice frog, so, it just stays as it is.

Kind regards Yvonne


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Re: Information regarding dobans, field guide to identify stones and other questions

Post  kdurais on Wed Jul 18, 2012 8:03 pm

Love the display, Andre. The thick wooden block on which the basin-like stone is mounted takes it to another level altogether. Brilliant. Thank you for your comments.

Karthik

kdurais
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Re: Information regarding dobans, field guide to identify stones and other questions

Post  Guest on Thu Jul 19, 2012 6:56 am

Hi Kdurais

In my previus reply did I say "Suiseki is a state of mind for me, how other people want to collect theese stones is their bussines."

It may sound harder than it was ment, if so, do I want to appologise ...but suiseki is my little escape, and i like to keep it, in this fairly traditionel way...I dont really like to discuss it, just like other people who found their seat in this suisekiworld...we just live with it, and respect other peoples approach.....The mastercarver Peterbrod has hes way, and I respect him for this...he know that.
When we inbetween talk a little stone will there be no need for debating our approach first...As the more you know about suiseki, the more will you know everything goes...we learned that from the japanese suisekistone industry.

I would like to hear more about the baking of stones....is it soft or hard stones best?....what do you gain from it, and how does old surface made quik look like?...It sounds interesting....do you have before and after photos?

About a fieldguide
Could I be an idea to make 3 topics, one for soft stones, and one for semihard- and one for hard stones, where a stone is shown, how you use, keep, prepare the stone, and also what you think the quality of this kind of stone is, and what is not the good thing about it...also how you treat the surface...it could be for stones you found or bought......What do you guys think about this?

Kind regards Yvonne....If you think it is worth trying, can I start the topic, and place a few stones.


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