an'ya's first suiseki photo?

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an'ya's first suiseki photo?

Post  an'ya on Mon Apr 12, 2010 7:17 pm

Okay, here goes one more time. My name is an'ya and I live in the state of Oregon (central) in the USA. My husband and I have a publication of Japanese short form poetry, haiku, tanka, etc. Recently we have become interested in suiseki also. The photo I am going to attempt to post here, is my first "rock", and now I'm hooked. The man-shaped concretion "found me" and from there, we went in search of a "woman/baby shape" for the man which we finally found also. We then went in search of the perfect suiban. I wanted something with a scallop shape that also depicted the ocean, sure! But believe it or not, at a thrift store we paid $35 for that very suiban/doban which had the scalloped shape and seashell on the sides of it, plus it turned out to even have a Ming Dynasty marking. We are happy with the rocks and the pot but would like advice on our placement of them. Oh, and I am working on combining some of my haiku with the suiseki art form. It's probably very unconventional to say the least but we are just in it for the fun at this point, an'ya


Last edited by an'ya on Thu Apr 15, 2010 10:51 am; edited 7 times in total (Reason for editing : picture removal)

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Re: an'ya's first suiseki photo?

Post  Chris Cochrane on Tue Apr 13, 2010 10:40 am

Hi An'ya... That doban really looks nice. To not make us all green with envy at the extraordinarily low price, tells us its only 2" in length. Folks on this forum have paid up to $2000 for a doban (perhaps more) and been very pleased. Of course, most are willing to spend a lot less & find lesser trays, but this one looks nice.

Its low rim & legs plus amoeba shape suggest it was designed for grass & wildflower planting or moribana (flower tray) display. BTW, size does not effect value as much as other qualities. Most viewers would feel more expression for nature in this bronze tray than in many. In not being symmetrical, it is outside the common understated doban used frequently because of the value of understatement.

Can you tell me the visual flow which you feel in looking only at the doban? This tray which is not symmetrical has a clear directional flow. Your stone(s) as suiseki should be placed in recognition of the visual flow so that if an accent to the doban composition was placed outside of it, the doban arrangement would invariably lead the eye in that direction.

Where should a very small "moss-ball" planting (a bit of muck covered with moss & holding a small grass or wildflower) be placed relative to the doban's directional flow? Where should a moss ball be placed relative to the stone arrangement's directional flow without considering the doban?

You could create a more harmonious arrangement in consideration of a uniform directional flow. Keeping an open space (sand only) toward one end of the tray relative to the other also will strengthen the feeling of directional flow.

Each stone has directional flow created by its shape, arrangement of mass, placement & imagery (what the viewer imagines in seeing it). The imagery of one or more viewers might be (including intentionally) different from others.

FWIW, a stone as suiseki in a doban is typically a single stone. Suiseki is not a miniature "Zen garden" of stones arranged in sand. The rhythm among stones in a Zen garden would be enhanced by some disharmony & perhaps would require closure of the image within the bounds of the sand garden, though its illusion could be boundless. I've little understanding of the intention of tabletop miniature "Zen gardens" so am not a reliable source. I think there is a Facebook fans page where members discuss these.

I'm among forum members who are very interested in Zen & history which is woefully misrepresented in popular interpretations of Zen karesansui (dry landscape) gardens. That is another subject &, perhaps, for another thread. IBC member Peter Aradi has tried to clarify this aspect, too, as an adjunct to appreciating suiseki. We've resisted becoming a miniature Zen garden forum by focusing on appreciation of single stone presentation though there is respect for wiggle to test new waters.

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Re: an'ya's first suiseki photo?

Post  an'ya on Tue Apr 13, 2010 11:14 am

OMG Chris, don't know if I can answer all your questions correctly, and not to make you green with envy, but the doban is actually 15 inches long and 7 inches at its widest point, by 2 inches high. We think it is bronze and know for sure is it Ming. Most of my other pieces are not elaborate and we've had to pay even more for some of them.

As far as the visual flow when looking at this doban by itself, I now see maybe right to left, (wide section to narrow section) which tells me I might have placed the rocks in the wrong place? This is the part I'm not sure of. I think if I were to place a moss ball, it might be in the wide section. Okay now I am thoroughly confused!

Yes I do understand that usually it is a single stone or I think I read it can be 3 pieces sometimes in a triangular configuration? So I was counting the man, the woman and the place card (haiku) as 3. As I said, most unconventional I know. Anyway, being a Virgo and writer of Japanese short poetry, I really want to learn more and get this suiseki form right, so I appreciate any additional input that you or other forum member have time to give me. And since you are open to "respect for wiggle", a zen-style haiku to share with you Chris:

june breeze
a hole in the cloud
mends itself

an'ya

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Re: an'ya's first suiseki photo?

Post  Chris Cochrane on Tue Apr 13, 2010 12:09 pm

In its earliest days, the Internet Bonsai Club had Hud Nordlin with his Haiku-matic. Hud was about as brilliant as brilliant gets... but his Haiku-matic spouted the deepest wisdom from the commonest images of nature. I wish he were available, today, to crank-it-up.

A few members do linked verse & yours are excellent to start a conversation among poets. The American bonsai community's most well-known Haiku master was Vaughn Banting & I've loved sharing with him over years. He made the viewers/readers feel that they hung-the-moon.

Jerome Cushman, who is referenced as teaching incense ceremony to a suiseki group on a recent thread, is another BRILLIANT fellow. His haiku skill and knowledge simply astound. It seems he knows everything from the deepest pools of appreciation. Built like Icabod Crane (Hawthorne's character), Jerome was an unlikely but real dancer under Martha Graham's professional direction. Get to know him if you ever have the opportunity! In a chance meeting years ago, he turned my largely uninformed interest in Asian art into passion for learning more.

Your doban at 15"/~40cm. is a perfect length for stone display. A doban (metal tray) is a subset of suiban (literally, "water tray"). Doban is the more precise rendering, & suiban are usually thought of as ceramic, but doban are also suiban limited to metal examples, typically bronze. Of course, the Ming mark is apocryphal-- not intended to deceive but a later Asian metalworkers intent to express homage to earlier craftsmen including reigning monarchs who provided bronze censors & other works to temples nationwide.

You caught the flow of the doban & stones' flow perfectly. Placed as you have it, the visual flow of the doban is right-to-left & the principal stone's flows left-to-right, but they should flow in similar direction. Since the doban has an intended bulge which is eye-piercing when facing the viewer, I imagine the doban's intended front is opposite of the side you have chosen. A flat or concave front is more inviting to engage a viewer in the scene depicted within a tray. The bulge placed toward the backside would add perspective of depth without distraction. Do the applied shells continue on the opposite side of the tray?

The moss ball placement I was suggesting would be outside of the tray. It was only an imagined image but whether for bonsai, suiseki or kusamono (a principal grass/wilfdflower planting), the most artistic display is in an intimate setting such as an alcove with another object. ALWAYS! The setting might vary in formality & should express seasonality. It can express the time of day, greetings of an anniversary or holiday, & emotional messaging to a special audience (or to as few as one member in that audience), as well. It is the expression of a host to a guest.

There are exceptions to a single stone for tray display, but I'd rather not distract or encourage you in that direction for suiseki presentation. If you want to practice suiseki & learn its world, do you wish to place a single stone in the tray? It is a good place to start.

BTW, for a suiban of modest depth a considerable character at length of 15", most members of the Stone Forum are absolutely delighted that its landed in the hands of a stone enthusiast!

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Re: an'ya's first suiseki photo?

Post  an'ya on Tue Apr 13, 2010 1:13 pm

Yes I am familiar with the haiku people you mention, although I wasn't fully aware of all the bonsai connections, how refreshing to learn this.

Thank you for the clarification on doban/suiban. I have several other pots that are bronze and cast iron and am never quite sure whether to place a plant or a rock in the deeper ones.

Thank you also for explaining about which direction to turn this doban, I can see so clearly now what you are saying!, and yes the shell design continues on the other side.

As far as the "moss ball imagined image" and "settings", I am not quite there yet, but I think maybe I would place it outside the narrow side? I think perhaps placing the haiku (as if it were a scroll) outside instead of inside as a second object, might work?

Anyway, here is another attempt with just the one stone and the doban turned around, although it still might not be correct, so please just let me know if it's not what you mean. Thanks again, an'ya


Last edited by an'ya on Thu Apr 15, 2010 10:56 am; edited 1 time in total

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Re: an'ya's first suiseki photo?

Post  Chris Cochrane on Tue Apr 13, 2010 1:49 pm

Excellent arrangement (only arguably shy of perfect)... and a pretty cool stone. There is much to consider here.

I REALLY like your placement of the doban front with a long, flattish side. For the right stone, it is perfect. For a stone that will be squeezed very close to the back wall (still, close to the best placement in this narrow space), perhaps rotating the suiban slightly (narrow end forward) would allow more space for the stone\'s depth front-to-back in the suiban (and maybe not). I prefer the stone to not look squeezed too close to any wall.

Do you know about doha \"slope/plateau stones.\" You appear somewhat sophisticated about stone placement if this were read as a landscape view stone. FWIW, and extremely significant if practicing suiseki, only a landscape-view (including seascape-view if thinking island or coastline) stone is presented in a suiban. The landscape view can additionally be imagined as representing another object. For example, I think the stone looks like a sunning otter, so I might poetically call it \"Otter Plateau.\"

The \"otter\" would be looking across his stomach & backfin in the direction where the moss ball would stand. A haiku might be placed between the two, further back & hung on a wall (where a scroll would hang in a Japanese alcove). Alternatively, I\'d place the haiku left of the doban and further forward such that the eye would move from the stone in the doban to a secondary accent (moss ball) on the right at some distance & slightly forward. Then the moss ball grass/flower leaning toward the doban scene would turn the eye back past the doban to an extremely forward placement of the Haiku card (tertiary accent) sitting directly on the floor space and only slightly left of the doban.

In intimate display space, it is important to have a clear eye movement regulated by rules of looking. The highest & deepest objects are seen first excepting that the principal object placed on the floor space and objects supporting it including the doban and any mat or stand under the doban are noted before closely observing the scroll/(wall hanging). Each accent is perceived closely in order after noting the relationship of the scroll subject to the principal display object. Accents beyod the first accent (secondary object) ONLY flow to the accent before them & relation there directional relation to the principal object is only incidental. An alternative to having the eye repeatedly move toward or across the display\'s center is to have every object flowing in the same direction like the to create an feeling as of wind flow.

Hope that helps.


Last edited by Chris Cochrane on Tue Apr 13, 2010 2:17 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: an'ya's first suiseki photo?

Post  an'ya on Tue Apr 13, 2010 2:05 pm

Yes


Last edited by an'ya on Thu Apr 15, 2010 10:57 am; edited 1 time in total

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Re: an'ya's first suiseki photo?

Post  Chris Cochrane on Tue Apr 13, 2010 2:23 pm

Sorry, I added considerably to my previous post re' placement of accents in intimate display space (such as the floor of a Japanese alcove), but you responded before it was revised, An'ya. It might be worth a look-- you will see bonsai, suiseki & kusamono enthusiast sometimes refer to this as Keido-- "the Way (or Path) of Display." It represents a very small school's teaching which draws from a variety of traditional Japanese aesthetic practices-- several related to tea ceremonies of chanoyu (whipped tea) & sencha (steeped tea).

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Re: an'ya's first suiseki photo?

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