Suiseki are small, naturally formed stones admired for their beauty
and for their power to suggest a scene from nature or an object closely associated with nature.
Among the most popular types of suiseki (pronounced suu-ee-seck-ee)
are those that suggest a distant mountain, a waterfall, an island, a thatched hut or an animal.
The art of suiseki is believed to have originated some 2,000 years ago in China,
where small stones of great natural beauty were set on stands to represent legendary islands
and mountains associated with Buddhist or Taoist beliefs.
The term suiseki means literally "water stone" (sui = water; seki = stone or stones)
It is derived from the ancient custom of displaying miniature landscape stones
in trays filed with water, and from the association between suiseki and
classical Oriental landscape paintings of mountains and lakes.
Suiseki are traditionally exhibited on a carved wooden base or in a shallow tray.
When formally displayed, suiseki are often accompanied by bonsai.
The Japanese adapted the art to their own tastes and have practiced it to this day.
In the last 30 years the popularity of suiseki in Japan has greatly increased.
Collectors roam the countryside looking for high quality specimens;
some of their finds are sold for thousands of dollars.
Within the last decade an increasing number of non-Japanese, particularly Western bonsai
and tray landscape enthusiasts, have discovered the special beauty of suiseki.
These new collectors share with their Japanese counterparts, the challenge of
searching for suiseki among thousands of ordinary stones,
and the exhilaration of discovering a specimen that will be admired for generations to come.