How many times have you heard or read about ‘instant bonsai’? If you have not yet, ‘instant bonsai’ refers to get a bonsai from raw material in only one session (typically, in one demonstration or workshop). Of course, it is not possible to achieve the goal and that the tree sill survive.

But, is it possible to get ‘instant suiseki’? After all, the stone is not a live being, isn’t it? Well, you may decide to buy a nice stone with a well fitted daiza, if you can afford the price, even so, you shall only possess a good stone, just to start the preparation of a suiseki display.

Provided you have a suitable stone without daiza, you may consider to get a suiban (bronze or ceramic trays, without holes, for stone display), as well as display sand. However, you should not consider that getting a finished suiseki is so easy as to cover the inside of the suiban with the sand and then placing the stone on the sand. Only taking into consideration the proper matching between suiban and stone, you have to consider the following balances: size, shape, depth, colour, position and season. So, it is not so ‘instant’.

Another option is the use of a proper cloth or cushion. To a certain extent, this avoids questions related to season, but to determine which is the proper colour or pattern is, at least for us Westerners, more difficult.

Of course, there is a last resource: to place the stone directly on a slab, if the stone remains stable and in the desired position. This approach is used in some Japanese club exhibitions. You only must have a mature suitable stone.

I am confident you will have noticed my indications about ‘suitable’ and ‘mature’ stone and many will have guessed it is related with ‘patina’, ‘age’ (in Japanese, ‘yooseki’); if so, you are right. In other way, it is very unlikely that a stone you have just collected from the field or a waterside should be allowed for immediate display, whichever the support you consider. If you do not have a clean and prepared viewing stone, you can not do suiseki; and it usually takes more than an instant.

Actually, most so explicit as implicit comments that refer to ‘instant suiseki’ deal to a great extent with the topic of  ‘daiza vs. suiban’.  Though arguments based on history, symbolism and/or aesthetics, I wonder whether the underlying issues relate to more ‘mundane’ circumstances that I connect with the positions of ‘collector’ and ‘collectionist’:

-          the term ‘collector’ refers to the one that ‘harvest’ the rocks mainly in the nature, define their best view and clean and prepare them,

-          the term ‘collectionist’ refers to the one that gets the stone mainly in their final status, typically in specialized markets and shops or from collectors.

An exclusive collector usually makes also the daiza for most of all of his stones. In this way he/she will become more involved with the stone and contribute to ‘age’ it, getting a deep knowledge of it that will help him to show the stone at its best.

 An exclusive collectionist often is not allowed to get the time and/or facilities for ‘rock hunting’ and ‘cultivation’, nor will have developed the skills for making daiza; however, from books and exhibition, he may have acquired an aesthetic taste to prepare beautiful suiseki displays. The problem for the collectionist is for stones without a daiza: he will have to command an experienced artisan for making the daiza and this will take time and money; in the meantime, the stone will stay with the artisan, usually for several months, and will not available for display. The option of the suiban appears if he is not willing to wait until the daiza is ended, but this option works better in Japan (where there is a higher supply of suiban and doban) than in the West. And yes, a suiban may suit to more than a stone. What about cost? there is no absolute answer, but it may be said that a high quality suiban is not cheap and the same may be said on a good quality daiza.

So, there are many ways for doing suiseki, but there is no way to ‘instant suiseki’, as far as I know.



Tuesday, February 17, 2015