All the majesty of the Mojave Desert can be found condensed into a single rock, through the Japanese art of suiseki , said enthusiast Don Kruger as he showed off a rock he found that closely resembles a desert landscape, complete with buttes and mesas. Suiseki (pronounced soo-ee-sehki) involves the collection of stones carved by wind and water to resemble miniature mountains, animals, flowers and figures.
"It's related to Zen and meditative transportation. The stone takes you there. When you look at a mountain stone, the stone takes you to the peaks, to where you can hear the birds and actually be there," said Kruger, 46, a location manager in the movie industry and a member of California Aiseki Kai, a local suiseki club.
More than 150 suiseki stones gathered by Aiseki Kai members are on display at the Huntington Library in San Marino this weekend at the organization's fourth annual suiseki show. Free to the public, the show also features a continuous narrated slide presentation explaining the art of suiseki. About 4,000 attended last year's show, Kruger said.
Aiseki Kai meets every third Wednesday of every month at the Museum of Science and Industry at Exposition Park. Members go on field trips to areas near Death Valley and the Kern and Eel rivers twice a year to look for new stones, Kruger said.
Suiseki, or "viewing stones," was first documented in China in the 8th Century. The Chinese propagated the art when emperors presented the miniature stone scenes as gifts to representatives from Japan, Korea and other Asian countries.
In Japan, the stones can command hundreds of dollars. Traditional Japanese homes display the stones on specially carved wooden bases \o7 (dai) \f7 or in sand- or water-filled trays \o7 (suiban). \f7 The stones are also displayed next to bonsai and ornate scrolls.
\o7 The fourth annual exhibition of suiseki and viewing stones will continue at the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens in San Marino between 10:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. \f7 today.