VSANA Library of Stone Appreciation Books
The following reviews are intended to give readers an indication of the wide range of books available, primarily on Asian stone appreciation, but also on Western stones. Additional reviews are added to this site each month. They are presented in the country where they are produced. Unfortunately, some of the books are out of print and difficult to obtain.
VSANA Library of Stone Appreciation
Xinyu Stone Gallery
Privately published. 67 pp. no ISBN number.
Bi Xinyu is one of China’s leading stone collectors and an important leader in the modern stone appreciation movement in this country. She has two impressive museum-like galleries—one in Beijing and another in Liuzhou in Guangxi province. Mrs. Bi has impeccable taste and has assembled an extraordinary collection of some of the best modern stones. This privately published volume is mainly a photo album of many of the best stones in her collection. This volume includes short essays on a number of stone types: Hongshui River, Guangxi Dahua, Guangxi Moore, Guangxi Lipi, and the Heshan Colored pottery stones. It is produced in the traditional folded pages style with string binding; however, the quality of the paper, printing, and design is excellent.
Bi Xinyu has written many articles about Chinese stone appreciation and has received numerous gold- and silver-level prizes for stones she has displayed in major events. She is deputy chairman of China Ornamental Stone Association, vice-chair of the Guangxi Ornamental Stone Association, a certified stone appraiser, deputy managing editor of the magazine Stone Appreciation Culture.
The Great Stones of Ancient and Modern China. (中华古今奇石大 观).
Beijing Great Wall Press, Beijing. 522 pages. ISBN: 7-80017-783-1. 498 RMB when published.
This is truly an impressive work from one of the major collectors and leaders in Chinese stone appreciation. In this book, Chen Dongsheng presents photographs and descriptions of approximately 2,000 stones. Here, readers can get a fairly complete overview of the various stones that have been collected and appreciated in China from the different dynasties to 2005 when this volume was published. The first two sections, comprising 177 pages, are devoted to ancient stones. The format is such that a photograph of a historically important stone is provided along with a description of the stone’s importance, in some cases a poem is included. Students can develop a good understanding of the range of stones and their respective bases that were used in dynastic China.
The next 336 pages of the book focus on modern stones. They are arranged in three, major groups—modern stones, modern stones that resemble figures, and modern stones that resemble animals. Chen has done an amazing job of showing the wide, range of stones collected in modern Chinese stone appreciation. This book, more than any other, beautifully illustrates the extensive range from tiny Rain Flower Pebbles and desert agates to large pieces of limestone. Information is supplied with each illustrated stone. The photographs are excellent and the layout of the book is attractive. Fortunately, it has a sewn binding, an essential element for book this size. It measures 21 x 28.5 cm and is 5.5 cm thick and comes in an attractive slip case.
The Grandview of Ancient Chinese Stone Spectrum. Stone Articles and Stone Poems. Chinese
Culture Publishing House. Shandong. 4 vols. ISBN 978-988-43728-3-0. 298 RMB when published.
This four-volume set is one of the most important basic references on Chinese stone appreciation culture. Chen’s scholarly work brings together much of the ancient literature on this subject; thus, it is a valuable tool for people who wish to learn about stones in early writings, poems, and various catalogs from Imperial China. Two volumes, totaling 617 pages, are devoted exclusively to early writings about stones. A third volume of 395-pages focuses on Imperial period poems about stones. The fourth volume of 310 pages is a treatment of various stone catalogs produced during this time. Many of the catalogs are reproduced in this volume. Anyone doubting the importance of stone appreciation in Imperial China should consult this reference. Stone appreciation was an integral part of the arts and culture of China historically. Those values have been carried into modern China and thrive today.
The four soft-cover, string-bound volumes are housed in a slip case. Most of the volumes are text with few illustrations; although the volume about stone catalogs does contain many illustrations. A reading knowledge of Chinese is require to benefit from this work. Although rarely cited, this work has been the source of much information about stone appreciation in Imperial China.
Chrysanthemum Stone Carving in Hunan Province of China. (菊魂)
Hunan Fine Arts Publishing House. 20 +133 pp. ISBN: 7-5356-2232-1. 268 RMB when published.
China has a great abundance of highly skilled artists and craftsmen. This extends to stone carving and Hunan Province where the most highly sought stone carvers of chrysanthemum stones are located. Liuyang, a major location of limestone deposits containing mineral deposits that resemble chrysanthemum flowers, is the center of chrysanthemum stone carving in Hunan province. This volume was assembled by several editors working with the Hunan Art & Craft Academy to assemble some of the finest examples of beautiful art objects skillfully carved from chrysanthemum stones. These range from pieces of sculptures to more practical items such as ink stones, brush holders, small water bowls, vases, and other related items. The works of art illustrated here are mostly modern, although some appear to be patterned after older antique chrysanthemum stone carvings.
This is another quality book on Chinese stone appreciation. Approximately 130 pieces of stone carvings are included, one per page. Photography is, overall, very good, but not outstanding. The binding is superior and the book was bulked up by using thicker pages. This is the best book for modern works of art made from chrysanthemum stones.
Beautiful Stones of Ningxia. (宁夏奇石)
Hong Kong Dadi Publishing Company. Shenzhen. 179 pp + 21 pp advertisements. ISBN: None. 288 RMB for hardbound, 238 RMB for soft cover when published.
Ningxia or more correctly the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region is a relatively small geopolitical region in northwestern China. Yinchuan, the capital, is a major gateway to Gobi Desert, Inner Mongolian, and western Yellow River stones. This volume features stones from these regions making this a useful reference for learning about stones from this region. The most diverse and unusual stones featured here are from the Gobi Desert. They are windblown, wind- and sand-sculpted, shiny stones, often strongly siliceous. The fascinating uni-colored and multi-colored grape agates are mined. The Yellow River, which flows through Ningxia, is the source of many attractive river cobbles also featured in this volume.
The photography is excellent. Each page features no more than three stones, thus facilitating the study of individual stones. The sewn binding and hard covers make this a quality publication and useful reference. Production costs were partially offset with 21 pages of advertisements at the end of the book, a technique that was typical of publications of this time.
Du Ming Cen Lingbi Stone Illustrations (杜明岑灵璧石画谱).
Tianjin People’s Art Publishing Co. 116 pp. ISBN: 7-5305-2399-6. 180 RMB when published.
Du Ming Cen is a gifted contemporary artist who specializes in painting stones, particularly Lingbi. This large format volume (78.7 x 109.8 cm, 10.3 x 15 inches) reproduces 143 of his paintings of these revered large stones. Large-sized books such as this one allow users to better appreciate the intricacies of a painting. Most of his works are in black ink with occasional touches of color. The drawing and shading techniques are reminiscent of the late Qing dynasty artist Zhou Tang (1806-1876); however, Chin’s painting are detailed and employ more sophisticated shading techniques.
This is a modern shipu or stone catalog publication. We often associate these books with Imperial China because of the well know Yunlin Shipu and later Suyuan Shipu volumes. However, there are several highly skilled artists in China who are masters of painting stones. Du Ming Cen is one of those. The original 143 paintings illustrated in this volume are on display in the Baochen Museum near Tianjin. Many of the stones that were painted are also in the collection on display at this museum.
Chinese Rain Flower Stone Picture Dictionary
(Zhongguo yuhuashi tudian 中国雨花石图典).
Nanjing Publishing Company, Nanjing. 3 vols. 1,234 pp. ISBN: 978-7-80718-8. 800 RMB when published.
Rain Flower stones are small, hard agates, crystals, opals, and others rocks found in ancient gravel deposits and occur in a wide variety of colors and patterns. They are among the oldest Chinese stones to be appreciated for their beauty. These stones were found in a burial site near Nanjing that date back 4,000 to 5,000 years. It is difficult to imagine the great diversity of Rain Flower stones; however, this extraordinary work presents over 1,000 full-page color illustrations of individually named stones. The first volume presents historical information about these stones including photographs of the ancient archeological burial site where the early Rain Flower stones were found. This picture dictionary of these stones was a joint effort between the editor, Chi Cheng and gifted photographer, Tang Xianfeng. The photographs are exquisite due to the excellent color reproduction and show considerable detail of these small stones, typically ranging between 3 and 6 cm. The name of each stone is provided in both English and Chinese, along with its dimensions, and a brief description.
The volumes are hard-bound and with a superior sewn binding that allows the pages to fully open without fear of loosening the pages. The high quality of this publication and extensive color photographs more than justify the 800 RMB price.
Loashan Green Stones of China. (中国唠山绿石).
Qingdao Press, Qingdao. 208 pp. ISBN: 978-7-5436-3175-5. 188 RMB when published.
Laoshan Green are elegant beautiful stones that have been appreciated since the Song and Yuan dynasties to the present. The stones originate from the east Yangkou Bay in the Laoshan District of Qingdao. The source is limited, thus, the stones are rare and not readily seen in market places. They are prized and most of the outstanding specimens are in the hands of private collectors.
This book is devoted solely to these stones. Cui Zhoucun searched throughout China to find the 258 examples of Laoshan Green stones featured in this volume. Typically one stone or occasional two are illustrated per page. It is basically a photo album of these stones. This combined with the large format allows users to see considerable detail on each and some of the stones. Many of the bases used for these stones tend to be elaborate including several carved to resemble ocean waves reflecting their oceanic origin.
This may well be the first time that numerous examples of these stones have been featured in one volume. It was published to coincide and to celebrate the 2008 Olympics held in Beijing. Four pages in English aid western readers, otherwise, the text is in Chinese. Only a limited number of Laoshan Green stones have reached western countries; therefore, they are unknown to most western stone collectors.
Dali Stone Catalogue (Dali Shipu).
Yunnan Ethnic Publishing Company, Kunming. ISBN: 978-7-5367-6337-1/T. 328 pp. 45 RMB when published.
The Dali Stone Catalogue is an important addition to the extensive record of literature on this stone. It is a comprehensive account of Dali marble obtained from the Cangshan in Yunnan Province in southwestern China. This volume provides early accounts of Dali marble beginning with the Sui and Tang dynasties and continuing to the present. This marble was used for monuments in the Yuan dynasty and later as ornamental pieces in the Ming dynasty. The committee documents the improvements to processing and polishing Dali marble first implemented in 1956. This led to an expansion of the use of Dali marble as a decorative item and in certain types of furniture.
Dali Stone Catalogue is filled with useful information that cannot be readily found elsewhere. This is the strength of this book. It is not a photobook of impressive and beautiful pieces of this marble. This is a softbound volume with a very reasonable price.
Chinese Lingbi Stones. Chinese Stone Appreciation Series.
Shanghai Science and Technology Press, Shanghai. 167 pages. ISBN 978-7-5323-9152-3. 45 RMB when published.
This concise book is part of a series of volumes on the most important Chinese viewing stones. It opens with the history and historical importance of Lingbi stones followed by a chapter explaining the geological history and composition of the limestone formation. This stone lens was subject to long-term underground water flows that shaped the irregular forms of Lingbi. Subsequent chapters provide background information about the many ways Lingbi stones are displayed indoors andoutdoors. It is a handy and inexpensive but filled with a plethora of useful information about the number one stone in China.
China Semi-Precious Stones Association Collection. (中華雅石會選集)
Semi-Precious Stone Association. Taipei. 224 pp. No ISBN number.
A very attractive photo album of over 200 stones that were displayed in a 1996 exhibition in Taiwan. The photographs are sharp and reproduced one per page; thus, providing the viewer with excellent detail of each stone. Judging from the quality of these stones, the stone appreciation culture was well advanced at this time. The owner of each stone along with their contact information is listed on the last pages of this volume.
Rare Stones of China (中國珍石)
Shuxin Publishing House, Taipei. 264 pp. ISBN: 957-531-436-0. 500 New Taiwan dollars when published
This small volume gives us a good indication of the nature of stone appreciation in Taiwan circa 1995. The book is divided into two major parts—one illustrating Taiwanese stones, and another featuring various pieces of sliced marble. Many of hand-carved wooden bases illustrated in this book are fascinating and quite different in style from mainland Chinese bases. They have distinct, well defined shoulders or margins that often curve downwards. The author presents his view on stone appreciation before the two sections of photographs. The book concludes with a short chapter describing the people and artists who wrote about stone appreciation on this island.
It is a quality hardbound volume.
Photo Collection of Alexa Queer Stones. (阿拉善奇石)
Yangfang Publishing House. 255 pp. ISBN: 80595-825-4. 320 RMB when published
This is a significant volume in that it may be the first major publication devoted to stones from the Gobi Desert. It many respects, it is the culmination of the early formative years when Gobi Desert stones gained respect and prominence in the Chinese viewing stone communities. It was produced in time for the opening of the First Beautiful Stone Tourism Festival that was held in Alashan. It is filled with beautiful, high quality photographs of a diverse range of stones, mainly those found in the Alashan Plateau semi-desert. This is one of the major eco-regions of the Gobi Desert.
The book is divided in seven parts, including a preface and a post face. The stones are grouped in five major categories—human figures, animals, life, all phases, and landscapes. Figure stones, whether human or animal, are prized and are highly collectible. As a result, the values and prices assigned to excellent examples of these stone are high. The life category includes stones that resemble different types of food, while the all phases section contains stones that resemble boats, gourd-shaped stones, and even ones shaped like torches. The landscape stones focus on large and small features found in the Gobi Desert.
The quality of this book is very high; the paper, printing, binding, hard covers, and dust jacket, provide a long-lasting reference. It is a particularly valuable reference because of the large number of diverse stones illustrated. Readers can gain a good understanding of Gobi Desert stones from this book. Unfortunately, it has been out of print for several years and is difficult to find.
Selected Works of Longtan Elegant Stones. (龍潭雅石選輯)
Longtan Elegant Stone Association, Taipei. 160 pp. ISBN: none.
This early modern stone appreciation volume is a photographic album of a stone exhibit held by an association in the rural township of Longtan in northwestern Taiwan. The limited text is more than offset by the quality of the photographs and the layout of one stone per page so that the details of each stone and its base can be readily seen.
There are noticeable variations in the stone types, the ways they are displayed, and the bases or shallow ceramic and metal trays on which the stones are placed. A few of the stones are even displayed without bases. This is an interesting blending of stones from different Asian countries. The book includes illustrations of four Japanese stones, an Indonesian stone, and several Chinese stones, but the majority are from Taiwan.
Rhyme of Yunnan Stones. (滇石之韵)
Kunming Publishing Co. Kunming. 274 pp. ISBN: 7-222-04711-5. 268 RMB when published.
Yunnan is a very diverse province that ranges from the Tibetan Plateau in the north to a low tropical rainforest at its southern most point adjacent to Myanmar and Viet Nam. Its many rivers flow south to southeast and are yielding many excellent pattern stones. This province is rich in mineral resources and rock types. Such diversity can be readily seen in this volume, which is basically a large photo album of Yunnan stones. There is a large section devoted to the sliced marble used in stone appreciation because most of this marble originates in Yunnan. Examples of different types of fossil wood, also from this province, are prominently featured. Readers will be surprised by the great variety of stones from this region of China.
Like other modern stone books being produced in China today, this is a high quality, hardcover book with excellent photographs, typically several per page. The large 28.5 x 21 cm format makes it enjoyable to sit and study the photographs.
7th China Stone Appreciation Exhibition & International Stone Appreciation Exhibition. Excellent Collections. (第七届中国赏石展暨国际赏石展: 精品典藏集)
Kunming People’s Publishing Company. 248 pp. ISBN: 7-222-04909-6. 380 RMB when published.
This attractive volume is an excellent account of the 7th international stone exhibition held in Kunming in southwestern China. It contains sections devoted to the development of the stone industry, special exhibits, and summaries of thirteen lectures given during the exhibit. The largest portion of the book is devoted to images of excellent stones from Yunnan province. This province stretches from lowland tropical rain forest in the South and rises to the Tibetan Plateau in the North. As a result, it has a diverse array of rocks and minerals. Yunnan is rich in fossil wood, beautiful marble sliced into thin slabs for framing or for use in furniture, Jinsha river stones, and the unusual iron stones often coated with pyrite crystals. This large format book measures 22 x 29 cm and contains high quality paper and photographs.
China, National Treasures. (中国国家宝藏:黄龙玉).
Geology Publishing House. Beijing. 275 pp. ISBN 978-7-116-06172-9. 168 RMB when published.
This high quality paperback volume focuses on Yellow Wax Stones and related variants such as Yellow Jade. While it includes a nice section of photographs and information about natural Yellow Wax Stones, it is primarily a book devoted to delicately carved works of arts, seals, and jewelry made from these stones. As a result, it clearly illustrates how important these stones are regarded in different fields of the arts and crafts of China. The photography, design and layout of this book are outstanding. Judging from the deep rich colors of these stones and the works of art created from these stones, it is easy to see why people value them so highly.
Album of Rain Flower Pebble Treasure. (雨花石珍品集).
Jiangsu Ancient Book Publishing House. Nanjing. 179 pp. ISBN: 7-80519-139-5/J.3
This is a nice example of one of the early books published on stone appreciated in the modern era in China. Fortunately, it is one of the better examples from the 1980s, possibly because it was printed and bound in Hong Kong at the time of publication. It is an excellent volume on Rain Flowers Pebbles with the text in both Chinese and English. The large color illustrations of individual stones are grouped into six general categories: landscape, flowers and plants, figure paintings, animals, imaginary, and ingenuity. There are nearly 500 stones illustrated in this book. Rain Flower Pebbles are one of the first stones collected and appreciated solely for their beauty starting over 4,000 years ago. They continue today to be in demand and admired by a dedicated group of specialized collectors. Throughout the ages, there are probably more books written about these stones than any other type.
The production quality is excellent for this period. This turned out to be a surprisingly good book with clear and useful information.
Magic Stones, Miracle Culture. Photo Collection of Alxa Queer Stones. (赏石韵味・同根文化) .
Geological Publishing House. 154 pp. ISBN: 978-7-116-09435-2. 280 RMB when published.
This is an attractive, softbound volume of photographs taken by S. Hasbagna and published for the 2015 Mainland China-Taiwan Cultural Exchanges Exhibition that was held in Alashan in October. At that time, a large delegation of Taiwan stone collectors and dealers went to Inner Mongolia for their annual stone festival and the opening of a major new viewing stone museum in Alashan. A year earlier, a comparable delegation of stone enthusiasts from mainland China travelled to Taiwan for a major exhibition.
The first two stones presented in this book are two meat food stones collected in the Qing dynasty. Craftsmen in the Qing Imperial workshop made intricate gold stands for these stones. They are housed in the National Palace Museum in Taipei. The exquisite photographs illustrate the wide variety of viewing stones found in this region of the southern Gobi Desert. These range from large grape agates to multi-colored jaspers and chalcedony. Most of the Gobi Desert stones contain high levels of silica making them hard and often providing a shiny patina. The books illustrate individual stones and several quality contemporary displays of stones
Elegant Stone Artifacts, The Best Collection of Dianbai Golden Wax Stone.
Pegasus Publishing Co., Hong Kong. 93 pp. ISBN 962-450-545-4/D.50225. 180 RMB.
This elegant hardbound book beautifully illustrated some of the finest Golden Wax stones from Dianbai county in Guangxi province. This county reportedly produces some of the finest quality stones and one with a golden hue; thus, the variety known as Golden Wax stones. The editors selected the best stones from private collections. As a result, this is a valuable reference for people wanting to see examples of outstanding wax stones. It is a photographic album with 193 images plus brief text on stone culture, categories, and on golden wax stones. Each image and stone is accompanied by the name of the stone, measurements, and owner. In addition, approximately 20% of the images have a brief comment in English.
Canon of Contemporary China’s Renowned Cultural Stone Collectors and Their Celebrated Art Works.
China Federation of Literary and Art Circles Publishing Company. 339 pp.in slip case. ISBN: 7-5059-3180-6. 486 RMB when published.
This book lives up to its name. The editors were successful in enlisting hundreds of leading Chinese stone collectors to include one or two of their finest stones in this monumental volume. Over 1,000 stones are featured, ranging from Lingbi, Taihu, Nanjing Rain Flower pebbles and other stones from the Imperial period to a wide variety of modern stones. Excellent examples of Gobi Desert stones complement the beautiful stones from southern China. All the stones in this volume are Chinese except for a few Malaysian and Thai stones. Each stone illustrated is accompanied by a description, data about its origin, and size.
This superb publication is important in the history of modern Chinese stone appreciation. It features excellent photographs an attractive layout, quality printing and sturdy binding. Books of this caliber have contributed to the phenomenal growth in the numbers of people engaged in stone appreciation in China.
Yangchun Malachite. (神奇的孔雀石)
Publisher not given. 57 pp. No ISBN number. price unknown.
This small volume, measuring just 18 x 17.5 cm, features malachite specimens from the Shilu copper pit in Yangchun City in southern Guangdong province. This copper pit produce copper ore and excellent examples of beautiful malachite from the 1960s until 1997 when the ore was depleted and the site was filled with water to create a lake. The book features beautiful photographs of fifty malachite specimens from Yangchun complimented on the last pages with nine examples of local Yellow Wax Stone and three pieces of azurite. This appears to be more of a promotional piece to acquaint people with the malachite from this site. Yangchun City has proclaimed itself as the “Malachite Capital of China.” This volumes lack specific information about the mine, the history of malachite, and the qualities of it from this province.
Photo Collection of Alxa Queer Stones.
Alashan left Banner. 126 pp. ISSN: 2225-7438. 68 RMB when published.
Each year, the Alashan Viewing Stone Association, in conjunction with their annual stone exhibition and festival, publishes a hard-bound volume featuring excellent Gobi Desert stones. This event is typically held in September, and has grown to become one of the largest exhibitions in China. In many respects, Alashan can be considered to be the stone capital of northern China. The ten chapters feature different categories of desert stones in full color, often one stone per page. Information and size is given for each stone.
This serial publication is a good way to keep abreast of the latest and best stones to be found in the Gobi Desert. It is always useful to learn about progress and pending plans, such as a grand new viewing stone museum that will be built in Alashan over the next two or three years.
Chinese Stone Appreciation Series: Chinese Yingde Stones. (中国英德石).
Shanghai Century Publishing Co., Ltd. and Shanghai Scientific and Technical Publishers. Shanghai. 144 pp. ISBN: 978-7-5323-9037-3. 43 RMB when published.
This is one of a series of books published on the most well-known stones. This book is intended to be a concise overview of Ying stones from Guangdong province, specifically, those found in the region near Yingde City. Here a series of well-eroded limestone mountains yield fantastic-shaped stones that have been collected and admired for over 1,000 years in China.
This volume is divided into 16 chapters which primarily include basic features, type of stone, historical information, old writings about Ying stones, new thoughts about Ying stones, collection and appreciation. More than half the book is devoted to full-page, color illustrations of various types of Ying stones, thus, making it more valuable to non-Chinese reading audiences.
This is a good overview of these stones that are important in both imperial and modern Chinese stone culture.
Chinese Stone Appreciation Series. Chinese Taihu Stones.
Shanghai Science and Technology Press. Shanghai. 166 pp. ISBN: 978-7-5323-9161-5.
45 RMB when published.
This is one of a series of books on Chinese stones from the Flower, Penjing & Stone Appreciation Branch of the Chinese Society of Landscape Architecture. Taihu stones may be the most widely known stone internationally because of their form and the wide use of “Taihu stones” in the construction of classical Chinese gardens in western countries. Seven chapters comprise this modest volume. It is a well-researched volume that contains far more information about these stones than some larger format books filled with pretty pictures. Chapters topics range from the appreciation of the stones to the classification and types of stones to how they were formed and, how then spread in China are all in this book. This book is for serious students of Chinese stone appreciation and especially for those interested in learning about true Taihu stone--not the generic name applied to Taihu-like stones used in western gardens. Despite the small size, 14 x 20 cm, the color illustrations are excellent and effective.
2 vols. History of Chinese Stone Appreciation Culture (中国赏石化发展史).
Shanghai Scientific & Technical Publishers, Shanghai. 725 pp. ISBN 978-7-5478-0466-7.
420 RMB when published
This valuable reference is the result of a ten-year effort by a group of Chinese scholars to produce an accurate, up-to-date record of the history and development of stone appreciation in China. The editors translated the Chinese title as The Phylogeny of Chinese Shangshi Culture and this English title appears on the cover of the book. However, most western readers may not recognize from the use of the word phylogeny—the evolutionary development and diversification of a species or group of organisms—that this is the finest reference to date tracing the history of stone appreciation from its beginnings to modern times.
Jia and his 17 associates organized this work into five major parts, with each part further subdivided into chapters and each chapter broken into units. The first volume consists of two parts: part one provides a 74-page overview of shangshi culture in China, part two is a lengthy, 258-page, history of shangshi culture. The second volume contains the remaining three parts. Part three focuses on natural scenery and garden stones; indoor stones, fossils, meteorites and stalactites; ink stones, and stone sculptures. Part four presents major celebrities of shangshi, well known works and masterpieces, and an interpretation of ancient books. Part five presents the significant events in the long history of shangshi history. Volume two concludes with a list of the 192 references cited in this work.
This work is lavishly illustrated with numerous and excellent color photographs. The format makes it easy-to-use reference. The design and production are of the highest quality. There is a six-page summary and Table of Contents are in English as well as in Chinese. Every aspect of this reference is outstanding. Jia and his associates are to be commended for their scholarship and persistence in the ten years it took them to produce this book.
Ruyuan Color Stones. (乳源彩石)
Ruyuan Yao Autonomous County, 299 pp. No ISBN number. No price given.
This interesting book introduces a relatively new type of stone from Guangdong Province to the wide suite of Chinese stones being collected today. Ruyuan stones are ancient—reportedly formed during the late Simian Early Cambrian period 600 million years ago. These metamorphic stones contain many elements that are largely responsible for the bright colors and fascinating patterns that rival or even exceed the grass and flower stones from Guangxi province. These are mined and processed in Shaoguan City which is located in the northern Guangdong county of Ruyuan. Many of these stones are polished and, more recently, they have been sliced into thin slabs that are mounted in wood frames for wall hanging and for floor furniture similar to the use of Dali sliced marble.
This is another first-class book production on Chinese stones. Each page is illustrated with excellent photographs of one or two stones. It may be hard to believe that these are real naturally occurring stones, but they truly are. Other than cutting and polishing, no other enhancements were made to these stones. The pages are sown into signatures and properly bound for a long-lasting volume. Information about the county and city in which these stones are produced is included at the end. The obvious intent of this book is to establish Ruyuan stones as high-end decorative pieces for use indoors. They are remarkably colorful stones.
China Kun Stones.
Geology Publishing Company, Longyan City, Fujian province. 225 pp. ISBN: 978-7-116-09620-2. 398 RMB when published.
Collectors of traditional Chinese stones will be delighted to see this new book on one of China’s most famous stones—Kun from Jiangsu province. These delicate and intricate stones, actually mineral formations, were listed in Du Wan’s Yulin Shipu (Stone Catalog of Cloudy Forest) published between 1126 and 1130 CE. Now, we have a volume that assembles much of the information about these stones, their collectors, and poems written about these stones.
China Kun Stones opens with a summary of these stones followed by an introduction to the major serious collectors of these stones. This work is generously illustrated with excellent sharp photographs that show the details in each stone. A complete range of the different variations of Kun stones are illustrated in the volume, making it the most comprehensive set of photographs published to date. The editor of this book devoted a section of the book to older poems that had been publish centuries earlier to illustrate the historical importance of these stones. The editor concludes the book with numerous photographs taken at various stone exhibitions and festivals throughout China where Kun stones were displayed. This is a valuable contribution by one of China’s leading Kun stone collectors.
Guangdong People’s Publication Company. Guangzhou. Lingnan Culture Understanding Series. 87 pp. ISBN: 7-218-05273-8/G•1343. 10 RMB. Softcover.
This is a low-cost, entry-level volume for people who wish to learn good basic information about Ying Stones. It was produced to promote Lingnan culture and Yingde City to the Chinese domestic market. Yingshi is an attractive publication with many small black and white photographs that is part of a series of inexpensive guides to varying aspects of Lingnan culture. It has a perfect (glued) binding with relatively low quality paper; thus, this book is not intended to be a lasting reference on Ying Stones.
Purpose of Yingshi (Yingshi-zhi).
Government Cooperative Yingde Culture Information Committee and the Yingde City Fantastic Stone Association. Yingde Culture History Information #18. 195 pp. No ISBN. No price.
Yingshi-zhi is an interesting little volume in that it was produced by the local government for distribution, apparently at no cost, to promote various aspects of Ying stone appreciation. While some historical information is included, it is a useful volume for learning about the development of modern Ying Stone cultivation and promotion in city of Yingde. Thus, it documents steps taken by the local government and stone enthusiasts, collectors and dealers, to promote these stones. Officials hope to develop a growing interest in Ying Stones as a mechanism contributing to the economic growth of this region of Guangdong Province. The postage stamp-sized, black and white photographs are not very useful to non-Chinese reading audiences. This is a book that was used to promote Ying Stone appreciation domestically.
Zhonggo juhuashi. Chinese Chrysanthemum Stones. (中国菊花石).
Chinese University of Geosciences Publishing Co., Wuhan. 62 pp. 19.50 RMB.
A small format paperback that focuses on the chrysanthemum stones of China, particularly those from Hunan and Hubei Provinces. It provides excellent coverage of the stones from Liuyang, a county famous for its carved objects made from chrysanthemum stones from this region. A considerable body of data has been published on these stones since the volume was issued. It’s a valuable reference for those specializing in chrysanthemum stones, but likely of limited valuable to the general collector of Chinese stones. This illustrated volume contains both color and black and white photographs. It is long out of print and likely difficult to find.
Heaven Endowed Jade Pebbles. Precious Rain Flower Pebbles from Luhe.
Jiangsu People’s Publishing House. Nanjing. 184 pp. ISBN: 978-7-214-05427-2.
280 RMB when published.
This handsome book was produced by the District Party Committee and District Government of Luhe to coincide with the 29th Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008. The large format, 29 x 29 cm, and beautiful design are well suited to feature outstanding Rain Flower stones from Luhe. Luhe and Luhe District are located about 45 km from Nanjing and is home to a giant gravel mine, the present day source of these stones.
The stones illustrated in this volume are grouped in five sections—landscape, people, animals, peculiarity, and plants—based upon the interpretation of the pattern of each stone. These five groups comprise the higher valued Rain Flower stones. The peculiarity section includes stones with interesting patterns or rare and unusual colors forms. Each page has only one or two stones illustrated per page, rarely three. This allows viewer to examine every detail of each stones. The name of each stone is given in Chinese and English. A brief statement or poem and the dimensions are also given for each stone. The photograph, design, printing and binding are all excellent.
Collection of Grand Classics of Famous Stones of Liuzhou. Vol. 5.
Li Jiang Publishing Company. Guilin. 322 pp. ISBN: 978-7-5407-7939-9. 480 RMB when published.
This fifth volume of a series that was first published in 2002 firmly established Liuzhou and Guangxi provinces as major centers for modern stone appreciation in China. These volumes present the finest stones collected, or stone displays developed, in the last two or three years in southern China. Not only are the stones illustrated in this volume excellent, but it shows us that the base styles and method of displaying bases are slowly changing. In the edition, low box and platform styles of bases reminiscent of those used in ancient times can be seen. Many traditional Jiangnan style bases are also present. But most noticeable are the growing number of modern contemporary-style bases with elaborate carving of naturalistic landscape scenes. The base and the display table are being combined into a single unit.
The volume along with the previous four volumes constitutes one of the most important sets of references for the study of modern southern Chinese viewing stones. They are providing a continuous timeline of the evolving types of stones collected and the manner in which they are displayed.
Marble Paintings Glorifying Da Li. On Marble
Collection of Mr. Li Zhenkui. 178 pp. Yunnan Art Publishing Co. ISBN: 978-7-5489-1615-4. 1,680 RMB.
This is an extraordinary book for two reasons: First, it provides readers with a visual and written record of one of the finest private modern collections of Dali marble ever assembled in Yunnan Province. The owner, Mr. Li Zhenkui, began as a painter then switched to a successful career in landscape design where he blended ancient Chinese gardening principles with modern landscape designs. His artistic abilities helped him to acquire an amazing and beautiful collection of traditional and modern pieces of Dali marble pieces. Each is exquisitely displayed in this book—one per page. Background information about Mr. Li in included in Chinese and English.
Second, is the book design, layout, and production. A true artist designed this book rather than a commercial book designer. The design elements complement each other perfectly and the attention to detail is something that is rarely seen in most books published today. This is the work of a creative and innovative person who truly loves art and books. The signature are sewn together and then bound between two hard covers held together by eight large stitches. It is a blending of traditional string bound book design with modern book production techniques.
The limited edition of just 1,000 copies combined with the high quality of this beautify book means it will become a true collector’s item in the future.
Introductory Level Encyclopedia of Stone Collection. 奇石収蔵入門百科.
Qishi Shoucang Rumen Baike. Jilin Publishing Group Co., Ltd. Changchun. 281 pp + 6 pp appendix. ISBN 978-7-80720-625-5. 88 RMB.
This attractive smaller format book is nearly equally divided between color illustrations and text. It is a handy general introduction to the wide range of stones utilized in stone appreciation circles. There are four main chapters, each with multiple sections. The main chapters are: introduction of stones, types of stones, stone assessment, and the collection of stones. This volume is a high quality publication in soft, but water-resistant and sturdy soft covers. It is small enough, 17.2 x 24.5 cm, to be carried in the stone markets when searching for new acquisitions. The book is in Chinese.
Complete Collection and Appreciation of Chinese Fantastic Stones.
Ji Lin Publishing Co., Ltd., Changchun. 448 pp. ISBN 978-7-80720-762-7. 158 RMB.
This richly illustrated book is basically an encyclopedia of stone appreciation in China. It provides brief descriptions of each type of stone, mineral or fossil used in modern stone appreciation. There are ten chapters including topics such as the origin of stones, types of stones, standards for assessing stones, fossils, jewelry quality stones, approaches to collecting stones, and the value of stones. Information is included about each stone illustrated; that is, its type, origin, and size, and sometimes even current price ranges for stones of this type and quality. This is a valuable book for people new to stone collecting because it beautifully illustrates the vast range of stones. It is a high quality, hard bound volume which sells for a very reasonable price. Text is entirely in Chinese.
Fantastic Stones: Collection and Introductory Encyclopedia. (奇石 收藏入门百科 ) Qishi Shoucang Rumen Baike.
Jilin Publishing Group Ltd. Changchun. 375 pp.ISBN: 978-7-122-15529-0. 128 RMB when published.
Modern stone appreciation culture in China is rapidly changing with the introduction into the marketplace of many new stone types each year. It is difficult for the Chinese stone collectors to keep up to date on all the stone types. Thus, it is nearly impossible for Western stone collectors keep abreast of these new additions. The best way to try to be informed about the suite of stones in the marketplace today is by referencing newly published books, such as Liu Dao Rong’s latest contribution. Liu has produced earlier encyclopedic books on stones, but this volume contains many of the newer stone types, and expands his 2007 encyclopedia by approximately 100 pages. An added feature is a 12-page classification scheme based upon how the stones were formed in nature.
This hard-bound edition is generously illustrated, which helps to identify the various stone types. It is well designed and contains sharp, high quality photographs. A DVD of stone illustrations is included with the print copy, and contains a video presentation of the author.
Elementary Encyclopedia to Balin Stone Collection.
Chemical Industry Publishing Co. Beijing. ISBN 978-7-122-19837-2. 296 pp. 98 RMB when published.
Chinese stones, natural and altered, have been appreciated as art objects for thousands of years. Some of these stones have served as the medium for art objects to be created through different forms of carving. This book provides readers with a thorough review of one of the most commonly used stones for carving—Balin. Balin stone is used for making seals for stamping, beads for necklaces, and for intricate works of art. The stone, agalmatolite, originates from Mt. Yamatu in the Balin Right Banner in Inner Mongolia. It is soft, waxy, and comes in various colors.
This volume starts with a brief introduction to the mine and surrounding area where Balin stone occurs and the variety of types of the stones found at this location. The seven chapter’s cover all aspects of these stones from carving tools and techniques to the different end products produced from Balin stones.
This quality production is well designed, generously illustrated with hundreds of excellent photographs, and will serve as a valuable reference to Balin stones for many years. The seven chapters cover all aspects of these stones from how to carve the stone to the different end products produced from Balin stones.
Monumental Collection List of Chinese Ying Stone (中国英石传世收藏名录).
Culture and Art Publishing House. Beijing. 270 pp. cased. ISBN: 5039-3115-9/J. 498 RMB when published.
Ying stone are one of the four famous and most revered of the Chinese viewing stones. They have been appreciated for their shape and beauty for approximately 1,000 years. These stones are quite versatile and are used as garden stones, viewing stones, stones for rock penjing and root-over-rock penjing, and in construction.
This book is primarily a grand photo album of famous Ying stones; it contains only eight pages of text at the beginning of this book. It is organized into five main sections: Classical Old Ying Stones, Excellent Ying Stone Examples, Famous Ying Stones in Various Gardens, Contemporary Award Winning Ying Stones, and Rare Ying Stones in Private Collections. This provides an opportunity for Western readers to see and learn about the wide range of over 250 excellent Ying stones, past and present, without having a working knowledge of the Chinese language.
It is a large, hard bound book measuring 28.5 x 28.5 cm with a sewn binding. It is easy to grasp the size and nature of each since only one stone is illustrated per page. The color photographs are good, but not excellent. Because this is one of the few books devoted solely to Ying stones, we are willing to overlook the quality of the photographs.
Collection of Grand Classics of Famous Stones of Liuzhou.
The city government of Liuzhou, a city in northern Guangxi province in southern China, made a serious, long-term commitment and investment over a decade ago to turn Liuzhou into the stone capital of China. The city stages a major international stone exhibition every two years, and some of the organizers have produced several outstanding books on stone appreciation. This includes Collection of Grand Classics of Famous Stones of Liuzhou, a series that started in 2002 with the first volume. At the time it was published it marked a new high in quality book production on stones. The second volume appeared in 2008, and volume three was published in 2010.
Vol. 1, Collection of Grand Classics of Famous Stones of Liuzhou.
Jilin Art Publishing Co., 297 pp. ISBN 7-5386-0391-3/J. 360 RMB when publish, now out of print.
Vol. 2. Collection of Grand Classics of Famous Stones of Liuzhou.
Guangxi Art Publishing Co. 299 pp. with slipcase. ISBN 978-7-80746-605-5/G. 360 RMB when published.
Vol. 3. Collection of Grand Classics of Famous Stones of Liuzhou.
Li Jiang Publishing Company. 327 pp. with slipcase. ISBN 978-7-5407-3919-5. 380 RMB when published.
This series of volumes are especially important to non-Chinese reading audiences because they focus primarily on modern stones originating in Guangxi Province, and because the volumes are basically photo albums with a minimum of Chinese text. As a result, these large format volumes, 22 X 29 cm, provide readers with photographs of approximately 1,000 of the best stones from this region of China. The books are an excellent way to learn about the diversity of stones from this region while seeing the specific features that the stone specialists in Liuzhou look for in excellent stones.
All three volumes are quality publications with sown bindings and high quality photographs. An added plus is that they are available at a bargain price for their size and quality. Volume three is still available in book shops while volume one may be more difficult to find.
Collection of Grand Classics of Famous Stones of Liuzhou (柳州名石大典). Vol. 4.
Lingjiang Publishing Company, Guilin. 322 pp. ISBN 978-7-5407-5934-6. 380 RMB when published (in slip case).
This is the fourth in a series of books featuring the famous stones of Liuzhou, the city in Guangxi province where modern Chinese stones appreciation first developed nearly fifty years ago. A full-page color photograph is devoted to each of the 317 stones illustrated in this impressive work. The stones are beautiful, evocative, and can persuade even the most ardent skeptic why a strong stone appreciation culture developed and continued over hundreds of years. Stones from other regions are included, although the majority of stones are from this stone-rich province. The last few pages in the book are devoted to photographs of the relatively new modern viewing stone museum in Liuzhou, one of the finest in China.
The four volumes in this series span a ten-year period from 2002 to 2012 and serve as one of the important illustrated references to the stones most prized in modern Chinese stone appreciation.
Appreciation of Chrysanthemum Stones (菊花石记).
ISBN: 1978-7-89990-446-6 Shandong Publishing Company, Guangzhou.30 Yuan when published.
This is the latest contribution to the growing body of published works on chrysanthemum flower stones. The author, Mr. Liu, is an avid collector of Huadu chrysanthemum flower stones near Guangzhou, China. This type of stone, composed mainly of quartz, is gathered on Chrysanthemum mountain in the Huadu district of Guangzhou. Liu also collects other stones of this type for a small museum he established solely to these stones. Collectors familiar with chrysanthemum stones will recognize many of the photographs in the book. They and the accompanying text were excerpted from Tom Elias’ and Hiromi Nakaoji’s 2010 book, Chrysanthemum Stones, The Story of Stone Flowers.
The value of this work is the additional information about the poorly known Huadu chrysanthemum flower stones that are composed mainly of quartz crystals and the additional information about the different Chinese chrysanthemum flower stones. It is a well-illustrated attractive book that will help bring Chinese reading audiences up to date about this popular type of pattern stones.
Chinese Viewing Stones. Grand Illustrations of Excellent Stones.
Baozang Magazine Publications. 247 pages. No ISBN. Slipcase. 280 RMB when published.
This elegant, large-format (28.5 x 28.5 cm) volume illustrates over 200 excellent stones from throughout China. These have been selected from vast collections and represent many of the finest viewing stones ranging from classical to modern types. In the last five decades, many new stone types were incorporated into Chinese stone appreciation culture. During this time, only a few stones with truly great attributes rose to the top. The stones illustrated in this book gives readers a better understanding of the features and types of stones valued most in China at the time of publication.
Chinese Viewing Stones, Grand Illustrations of Excellent Stones begins with four short essays—one each on Lingbi, Gobi, Red River and Long (Yangtze) River stones. The majority of the book, photographs of outstanding stones, is divided in to four major sections. Historical stones comprise the first group, while figure and nature stones are grouped together in the second section. The third group of stones relate to famous landscapes and people. The finals section of illustrates are stones that serve as a reflection of feelings. Brief information concerning ownership, size, and where it was exhibited is included for each stone. A list of the stones owners and their telephone number is given on the last pages of the book.
The photography, layout and design, and the production is excellent. Books of this quality are what helps to advance the stone appreciation hobby and industry in China. It is not surprising that China enjoy the largest and most progressive stone appreciation culture globally.
Cang Pin. Getting to Winter, Breeze on Stones.
Special Issue on Stone Appreciation. December, 2008. 228 pp. ISSN: 1671-9956. 48 RMB when published.
This is an important issue of this serial arts journal that has been overlooked by the viewing stone community. It is a comprehensive account of the illustrated works of viewing stones throughout the history of stone appreciation in China. Starting with the earliest cave and hand scroll paintings of stones and continuing to present day leading artists of stone paintings, this volume includes important western scholarly publications as well as the Chinese literature. It includes all the better-known illustrated works but also includes lesser-known publications such as Yan Daxiu’s Hundred Stone Garden, color paintings of 100 stones, completed in 1933. The inclusion of modern non-traditional paintings of stones further adds to the value of this issue.
This is the only work that we know of that has assembled this information in one volume. Unfortunately, this number of copies printed of each issue of Cang Pin are limited; thus, this issue is difficult to obtain. An English language translation of this issue would be of great value to the limited number of important reference relating to Chinese stone appreciation.
The Imperial Rocks.
Three Associates Book Shop. Hong Kong.ISBN: 7-108-01237-5. In slipcase. 580 RMB when published.
This is a valuable reference because of the excellent scholarship brought to bear on a single topic—the courtyard rocks that have survived from past dynasties in imperial China. Ren and the other specialists with whom he collaborated were able to provide reliable dating of 80 different courtyard rocks along with important data about the pedestals displaying these stones. These rocks are preserved today in a number of places in Beijing: the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace, Beihai Park, and Zhongshan Park, all in Beijing.
Each of the 80 stones is given a full page photograph plus an additional page devoted its description. Most of the stones treated in this work are attributed to the Qing dynasty. However, 2 stones are believed to be from the early Qing, 44 stones from the middle Qing, and 9 date from the late Qing. Also of interest are 19 stones attributed to the Ming dynasty, and 3 are believed to date back to the Yuan dynasty.
Lingbi, Ying, and Taihu stones are the most common types found among these 80 stones. However, petrified wood, bamboo stones, petrified coral, strange rocks, and lake rocks are also included among the different types illustrated in this book. Ren and his collaborators distinguished between Taihu stones and other Tahui-like stones that originated from other lakes. Today, these would all be combined under the now generic term “Taihu stones.” Two pieces of petrified wood are included, both attributed to the mid Qing dynasty. One is a large straight stone standing erect on a stone pedestal. The other petrified wood fragment is a long, narrow stone held upright in an elaborately carved stone pedestal.
Three essays by leading Chinese specialists complement the individual treatments of the eighty stones. These include a comparison between the form and texture of these rocks with rock images found in contemporary paintings and another on the meaning of the rocks.
The design, printing and binding of this large format, 23 x 30 cm, book meets the highest standards in book production. The text is in Chinese: English is limited to a one-page summary and a table of contents in English at the back of the book.
Classical Chinese Rocks. (中国古代賞石).
Three Associates Book Shop. Hong Kong. ISBN 7-108-01753-9/K. 580 RMB when published
This second book by David Ren is in many ways his most important work on classical Chinese stones. -Classical Chinese Rocks is one of the most important books published about the stones that were collected and appreciated during the Imperial Period. This is a scholarly work that combines information from both the Chinese and Western literature on this subject.
This volume is divided into three major sections. In the opening History section, Ren devotes a chapter to each of the dynasties that played an important role in Chinese stone appreciation—Tang, Song, Yuan, Ming, and Qing. Ren uses the word Shangshi throughout when referring to Chinese stones. The second section is a series of discourses on; 1) study of Shangshi, 2) bases for Shangshi, 3) chronology of Shangshi, and 4) appreciation of Shangshi. Both the first and second sections are amply illustrated. The third major section is devoted to the illustration and description of outstanding stones. The large format of this book, often with just one stone per page, provides an excellent opportunity to study in detail the wide range of stones appreciated during Imperial China. Ren provides a list of English language references and an even more extensive list of Chinese references used in preparation of this book. It is, perhaps, the most thoroughly documented study of classical Chinese stones to date.
Appreciation of Water Grass Flowers in Yellow Dragon Jade
Geology Publishing Co., Beijing. 213 pp. ISBN: 978-7-116-07726-3. 180 RMB.
This book is devoted to a specialized type of stone that is mainly siliceous, including agates, that have dendritic mineral formations that resemble branches and leaves of moss. These formations consist of black manganese or iron oxides. They can be strikingly beautiful when included in a lighter color stone such as Yellow Jade or Yellow Wax. In Yunnan province these stones are referred to as Yellow Dragon Jade and the dendritic formations are called by some as water grass flowers. All of the stones illustrated in this volume have been worked to reveal the exquisite natural beauty found inside each piece. The natural unworked stones are often irregular shaped pieces whose sizes ranges from that of a ping pong ball to a soccer ball. It is only when the outer heavily weathered surface material has been removed that stone enthusiasts can see the beautiful interior of these stones.
Chinese Ornamental Stone (中华赏石)
White Mountain Publishing Company, Shanghai. 157 pp. ISBN: 978-7-5529-0193-1. 268 RMB when published.
Thirty-one stone collectors contributed one or more images to form the basis for this recent publication. As a result, this book presents a good overview of what collectors consider to be their better quality stones. Therein lies the value of this volume. The photographs are excellent, so a viewer can look at details of each stone and its base. There are numerous superb bases in this volume. In modern Chinese stone appreciation, the quality and appropriateness of the base is of equal in importance to the shape, texture, and color of the stone.
One or two stones are illustrated per page. The stones originate from many regions of China, but a number are from the Gobi Desert regions and from southwestern China. The stones are mainly ones that have been valued as a viewing stone since the 1980s, but, there are also some nice Lingbi and Kun stones illustrated. All text is in Chinese.
Desert Rare Stone Treasures (大漠奇石瑰宝)
Hua Yi Publishing House, Beijing. In slipcase. ISBN: 978-7-80142-909-4. 232 pp. 320 RMB when published.
This impressive volume documents many of the outstanding stones collected in the Bayannaoer and Alashan Leagues in the Gobi Desert in the late 1990 by Mr. Wei Jinxue. Mr. Wei spent four years gathering these stones that now form the collection of the Desert Rare Stone Museum in Changping District. He collected a stone named “Ages”, one of the most famous Gobi Desert stones known. This book documents some of the finest stones collected in this region; it is not a work that shows the vast array of stones found throughout the entire range of the Gobi.
It is another excellent production with quality photographs, paper, and binding. One advantage of Desert Rare Stone Treasures is the inclusion of English translations. The table of contents and the names of each stone are presented in both Chinese and English. Several short introductory essays are also presented in both languages.
Viewing Stone Introduction (观赏石入门).
Geology Publishing Company, Beijing. 140 pp. ISBN: 978-7-116-05262-8. 28 RMB when published.
This is an excellent, small introductory book to Chinese Stone appreciation. Readers can rely on the information and accurately identified photographs because the chief editor also serves as the Chairperson of the View Stone Association of China. This is a high quality publication with excellent photographs and carefully research text. Information presented here is concise. This is intended to serve as an entry level book to the vast world of Chinese stone appreciation.
Fine Elements and Cream Developed Over Time. (積素凝華).
Geology Publishing House. Beijing. 252 pp. illustrated. ISBN 978-7-116-05670-1. 980 RMB.
Don’t let the English translation of the title mislead you. This is an excellent book produced under the supervision and senior editorship of Shou Jiahua, Chairperson of View Stone Association of China. The editors of this volume have selected an outstanding range of stones, classical and modern, and illustrated them with wonderful, sharp, color photographs. It is basically a photo album with limited descriptive text. Stones from every region of China are discussed including stones from Taiwan. The layout of this book makes it easy to study each stone since only one stone is illustrated per page. Each photograph is accompanied by the name, measurements, owner of the stone, and comments about each stone in Chinese and English. As a result, this volume will be of greater interest to English speaking only audiences. It is an attractive volume measuring 30 x 21 cm and comes with a cardboard slip case.
China Stone Catalogue. (中国石谱) 6 volumes.
China Book Bureau, Beijing. 1522 pages total. ISBN: 978-7-101-11945-9. 1960 RMB when published.
The recently published China Stone Catalogue will quickly become the primary reference on modern Chinese stone appreciation. This comprehensive six-volume book brings together a wealth of information from historical to modern times. Madam Shou Jia Hua, Chairperson of the View Stone Association of China, assembled a task force of approximately 90 specialists who worked for many years to assemble the vast amount of information in this extraordinary publication. This included a panel of 15 senior academic counselors, a 40-member advisory committee, 28 members of an editorial and selection committee, and 3 translators.
China Stone Catalogue consists of six hard-bound volumes. The individual volumes are:
Book 1: China Stone Appreciation Cultural History: from ancient to modern (239 pgs.).
Book 2: China Stone Appreciation Cultural History: contemporary summaries of the major stone catalogues of the Chinese dynasties (194 pgs.).
Book 3: Distribution of Chinese Viewing stone resources (353 pgs.)
Book 4: Chinese Viewing Stones Illustrated I (395 pgs.)
Book 5: Chinese Viewing Stones Illustrated II (383 pgs.)
Book 6: Chinese Viewing Stones Illustrated III (353 pgs.)
The first two volumes address the history and development of the stone appreciation culture. Volume two specifically addresses the numerous stone catalogues that were published over the last nearly 1,000 years. Many of these were simply manuals showing how to draw and paint rocks, but there were several important works that addressed the aesthetic qualities of stones. These are more pertinent to the viewing stone culture and are addressed in this volume.
The remaining four volumes are devoted to the distribution and identification of the vast number of stones, minerals, and fossils found in China. The primary goal of volume three is to illustrate where the different stones, minerals, and fossils are found. It provides maps showing the locations of these different types. Next are province-by-province sections that begin with a map of a province showing the locations of the stones, minerals, and fossils. Next, examples and brief descriptions of the geologic objects are provided. Volume three is based upon the 2011 publication China Viewing Stone Resource Map, but this information has been updated and expanded.
Volumes 4, 5 and 6 are devoted to provincial accounts of the different types of stones, minerals and fossils found in each of those administrative regions. Outstanding examples of viewing stones are beautifully illustrated, usually one per page, and accompanied by a brief description. No other published book illustrates the range and beauty of modern Chinese stones as well as these volumes of China Stone Catalogue.
This tour de force publication is an important reference that should be in the library of every serious connoisseur of Chinese stones and in the libraries of every university with a program in Asian studies. Every aspect of the production of this book—design, printing, and binding—reflects the high quality of many books being produced in China today. The boxed set of China Stone Catalogue weighs 10.4 kg (23 pounds).
Imperial Banquet and Stone Feast
I. C. Su Publisher, Taipei, Taiwan. 457 pages. ISBN: 978-957-43-0975-7.
This is an extraordinary book in many respects. Over many years, I.C. and Helen Su have assembled a collection of Gobi Desert stones that resemble different foods. Food stones became popular in the late 1990s, although food objects carved from jade and natural food-like stones date back to Imperial China. The Su’s made several visits to Alashan in Inner Mongolia to acquire their collection. These are ventifacts polished by wind and sand, agates, and a wide range of other stones and stone fragments.
The Sus have one of the largest and finest collections of these stones in the world, and they have gone to great lengths to display the stones in formal table settings. One table reproduces a setting typical of an Imperial Diet, while other tables featuring dishes from the Emperor Qianlong’s Southern trips. Additional tables feature traditional Taiwanese food including street foods and modern Chinese foods. They have even reproduced a traditional Japanese dinner table using stones that are virtually indistinguishable from the edible versions. Western countries are not neglected as they have reproduced table settings typical of North America, French, and Mediterranean dinner tables.
The book is an impressive 22 x 30 cm , and incorporates high quality photographs by Bernice Su. The paper, binding, printing, design and layout all adhere to the highest standards of book production. It comes in a handsomely produced slipcase.
Suiseki Collections in Taiwan. (台湾賞石経典).
Su, I.C. publisher, 248 pp. ISBN: None. Taipei, Taiwan.
This handsome volume is the best modern book on the native viewing stones of Taiwan. It is of particular value because the text is in Chinese and English. Each of the major types of stone found in Taiwan is featured and described in this book. As a result, this is one of the few books a reader can use to learn about the interesting stones of Taiwan. Among the more interesting stones found here are the watermelon; basalt from Penghu, a small island near Taiwan; turtle-shell, rhodonite or rose; iron; nail; and pattern cobles.
The design and layout of the hard bound book is excellent as is the photography. The superior sown binding is another nice feature to this book. The size, 22 x 31 cm, allows the images of the stones to be reproduced large enough to see every detail.
An Assemblage of High Quality Lingbi Stones in Baocheng Museum in China.
Tianjin People’s Art Publishing Company, Tianjin. 354 pp. cased. ISBN 7-5305-2952-8. 580 RMB when published.
This high quality, large format book documents the Lingbi collection of Chai Baocheng, and the extensive museum that he built in Tianjin. The Baocheng Museum consist of a hotel, an extensive grounds with numerous large garden scale stones, an extraordinary forest of approximately 220 fossil trees, and a large two story museum housing an excellent collection of over 400 large Lingbi stones and other stones. The first section of this volume provides a good introduction to this museum and garden. The majority of this book is devoted to beautiful photographs of Chai’s extensive Lingbi collection, typically one stone per page. The stones are grouped into five basic categories. For example, one category is reserved for figure stones while another illustrates only large garden stone. A big advantage of this book is that the text is in both English and Chinese.
The Inner Realm of Staves and Stones.
Ping Art Space Publishing Co., Hong Kong. 148 pp. ISBN 978-986-91649-3-1. 2,500 NTD.
This fascinating volume presents a series of well-executed ink paintings made by the renowned Chinese antique collector and artist Hugh Moss. The attributed author, The Master of Water, Pine and Stone Retreat, is a pseudonym used by Moss. But it is much more than this as it represents a culmination of Moss’s life-long pursuit of Chinese arts and culture. The dual Chinese and English language text sets the stage with a foreword by James Hsu and a key introduction by Moss on The Literati Spirit and Strange Stones. In this introduction, Moss wrote that the Chinese artistic maturity was in certain key aspects far advanced over that of the West.
Each painting or set of paintings of several stones is accompanied by a text and detailed information about the art work. Moss writes in a creative and imaginative style projecting himself back in time when he was interacting with various recluse literati. In his set of paintings labelled An Affinity for Yunyao, he is interacting with The Lofty Hermit in the Ming dynasty. A Circle of Respect is a series of eight paintings displayed in a base made of turquoise. Root stands, ruyi scepter, dried harden fungi are also the subject of Moss’ brush.
On first glance, this may seem like a whimsical production, however, it is an important avenue to aid serious stone enthusiasts to better understand the aesthetics of classical stone appreciation. Has Hugh Moss reached enlightenment?
Viewing stone enthusiasts may recall one of Moss’s earlier works When Men and Mountains Meet, Chinese and Japanese Spirit Rocks published in 1995.
China Viewing Stone Resource Maps. 2 vols.
Geological Publishing Company, Beijing. 28 pamphlets + 30 maps. No ISBN number. No price.
This remarkable two-volume publication is the work of the staff of the View Stone Association of China (VSAC) with the input data from hundreds of individuals throughout China. Beginning in the 1990s and continuing to the present, dozens of new stone types are being introduced throughout China. They were so numerous that they were sometime difficult to monitor. VSAC set out to catalog these stone types being used and identify new types that have potential as viewing stones or use in making jewelry. The result is a detailed account, province by province, of a listing and brief description of each stone type and a large set of folding maps showing where each type is found. Each of the thirty maps contains the location of viewing stones, fossils, and mineral deposits. The Chinese government through VSAC has provided an impressive guide to stone resources throughout every part of China. This was a monumental task that only VSAC could accomplished with the support and cooperation of each province. Over 600 different stone types are identified in this publication.
It is not surprising that the viewing stone industry has grown so rapidly over the last 20 years. The support of the national government and the expertise of the VSAC staff has been a driving force behind this growth. VSAC estimate that there are approximately 10 million people involved in stone appreciation in China in various capacities and that the value of this industry is approaching 100 billion RMB annually. The majority of this is jewelry made from stones and intricately carved stones from different stone types.
Lingbi Stone (灵璧石
Xiyuan Culture & Art Publishing House of China. Beijing. 350 pp. ISBN: 978-988-99254-1-3/J0015. 580 RMB when published.
Lingbi stones are one of the best documented stones in Chinese literature. This is another detailed account of these variable and fascinating stones. The book is divided into three main categories with the first one containing nineteen pages of historical information. The second section, twenty-one pages in length, presents background material including information about where lingbi stones are found, their chemical composition, how they are removed from the earth, and the different features of excellent stones. The last and main section is a vast gallery that illustrates all of the Lingbi types. This section ends with a series of excellent large stones that are used as outdoor landscape elements.
This is another high quality volume with excellent photography, design, printing and binding. It is a large format, 21 x 28.5 cm (8.5 x 11.5 inches), with generally only one or two stones illustrated per page. As a result, it is easy to examine every detail of each stone and its base. All of the stones are identified and include the measurements.
Fantastic Stone Alashan (Qishi Alashan). (奇石阿拉善) .
Geological Publishing House, Beijing. 198 pp. ISBN: 978-7-116-06298-6. 360 RMB when published.
This is one of a series of books devoted solely to Gobi Desert stones. Alashan is an important center in the western part of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region and for China’s vast stone appreciation business, especially for stones from the Gobi Desert and fossils from the rich fossil beds of Mongolia and Inner Mongolia. This book features stones from this region. They range from the beautiful, sand-polished ventifacts to agates to the multi-colored grape agates mined from mountains. Viewers will be impressed with the varying shapes and colors of the stones subjected to the etching and polishing by thousands of years of exposure to strong winds laden with sand. Several nice pieces of fossil wood, often in elaborate bases are also included in this volume. The often complex, hand-carved bases are beautiful by themselves, but when carefully matched with an attractive stone, the result is an intriguing work of art.
This book is a high-quality production with excellent photographs. The signatures are sewn together in a hard-bound book to give it a longer life. It is primarily a photo album of stones from the Alashan region; a reading knowledge of Chinese is not essential to learning from the book. It measures 28.5 by 21 cm
Lingbi of China. (中国灵壁石).
Anhui Art Publishing House. Hefei, China. 222 pp. ISBN 7-5398-0839-X/J-839. 238 RMB when published.
Chinese Dream of Stone (炎黄石梦)
Hua Lian Rare Stone Association. Taipei, Taiwan. 288 pp. ISBN: 978-986-92109-0-4. 400 RMB and 2,000 NT$ when published.
The Viewing Stone Association of China hosted a delegation of 300 stone enthusiasts from Taiwan at a major stone festival in Alashan three years ago. A year a large delegation of mainland Chinese stone connoisseurs visited Taiwan in a reciprocal visit. This book is a record of the fine exhibition of stones displayed in Taiwan for the exchange visit.
Many fine stones are illustrated in this volume. Most of the stones are from mainland China, although there are sections in the latter part of the book on Taiwan Rose and Nantian stones. Several pieces of Taiwan jade are also included.
A Complete Collection of Chinese Viewing Stones. (中国观赏石大全)
Chinese Broadcasting & Television Publishing House. Beijing. 520 pp. ISBN: 7-5043-5001-1. 298 RMB when published.
This is an interesting and useful book because of its different approach to Chinese viewing stones. The approximate first half is 314 pages of text organized in chapters. Thirty-four chapters, each one devoted to a different provinces of China. Then, different stones found in that province are discussed. Unlike most other volumes, this one provides more information about the geology and chemical composition of the various stones. This data make this book much more useful to those seeking more detailed information about Chinese stones.
The second part of the book consist of plates, each plate contains several photographs that illustrate the text each of the thirty-four chapters. Since each photograph is labeled to readily identify it with the text, it is easy to go back and forth between the photos and the text that applies to the illustrated stone.
Stone Family Tree of Henan. (河南石谱).
Guangming Daily Press Publishing Company, Beijing. 435 pp. ISBN: 978-7-5112-2564-1. 498 RMB when published.
This is a massive book that presents the stones found in Henan province in eastern China, west of Anhui and north of Hubei provinces. Henan is famous for the Songshan Mountains and home to the famous Shaolin Temple. Henan province was not a major source of valuable stones in Imperial China; however, they do supply patterned river stones and colorful polished stones such as the Lotus or Plum jade.
One to three stones are illustrated in color on each of the pages. This province abounds in river cobbles with attractive surface patterns. About forty pages at the end of the book are devoted to historically important stones in Chinese stone appreciation culture. Large books such as this one are becoming more expensive each year. This one is approximately $80.
Lucky Stone Chiefs (幸运的石头).
Wuhan Publishing Company, Wuhan. 164 pp, SBN 978-7-5430-4622-1. 58 RMB when published.
This is an attractive guide to the large, well-designed Wuhan Chinese Stone Museum. It is generously illustrated with excellent color photographs of many of their fine stones, fossils, and minerals. This volumes opens with a brief history and photos of how to collect stones in their native habitat. Nearly half the book is devoted to the many viewing stones in the museum’s collection-- the best asset of the facility. A smaller section, devoted to the minerals in their holdings, follows. Their fairly extensive fossil collection comprises the last main part of this book.
This soft cover volume is a high quality publication and a good companion for the many visitors to this complex. Foreign, non-Chinese reading visitors, may opt to visit the gift shop to purchase several of the great packets of post cards sold there.
The guide is in Chinese only, although we can hope for an English language edition in the future. Despite that, this inexpensive book is well worth the cost for the photographs alone.
Wax Stones of Southern China (Lingnan Cerostone of China). (中国嶺南蜡石).
Guangdong Science and Technology Publishing Co., Guangdong. 186 pp. ISBN 7-5359-2381-X. 120 RMB.
The compilers of this book did an outstanding job of combining high-quality images with thirty pages of text. The text, found in the latter part of the book, provides information about the history, types, and other aspects of Lingnan Wax stones. The text is followed by several pages of photographs of in situ scenes of parts of the river where the stones are found, along with examples of rare car-sized boulders of wax stones. While most of the wooden bases are the intricate carved ones typical of Lingnan, the book also shows a wide range of other types of bases used with the stones. The combined images and text makes this one of the most useful references for these beautiful stones.
Kun Stones of China. (中国昆石)
Shanghai Century Publishing Co., Ltd. and Shanghai Scientific and Technical Publishers. Shanghai. 189 pp. ISBN: 978-7-5323-9133-2. 48 RMB when published.
This volume is one in a series of publications, each of which is devoted to a major type of Chinese viewing stone. This series is excellent, and this volume on Kun Stones is important to readers who wish to gain a more in-depth understanding of these beautiful, delicate, and complex stones. Eight chapters comprise this work. Chapter three describes the different forms or varieties of Kun stones and provides detailed descriptions to each of the five major types. The habitat where these stones are found is described in chapter five. The majority of the book, chapter eight, contains full-page photographs of various Kun stones. Each page in this section has a single, large photograph of a stone along with descriptive information and size.
While the size of the book is small, 14.5 x 21 cm, the content is excellent and very informative. It is a hard bound book with a very modest price. Kun stones have been collected and valued for over 1,000 years and they are included and illustrated in the well known Suyuan Stone Catalog. This catalog was published in 1613.
Lingbi Appreciation Grand Book.
Chinese Culture and History Publication Co., Beijing. 410 pp. ISBN: 978-7-5034-3607-9. 1200 RMB when published.
There are numerous books on Lingbi stones published in the last ten years; however, this latest volume excels because it is the most thorough, accurate, and up-to-date work on the most important of all stones utilized historically and today in Chinese stone appreciation. This book is organized in five chapters starting with history, description, and distribution in chapter one. Chapter two is devoted to a description of the major categories of Lingbi stones. Chapter three examines these stones in gardens and art; while the fourth chapter covers a series of topics including how to name the stones, how to make a base, how to use them in trays, and other topics. The fifth and largest chapter contains 253 pages of photographs showing the wide range of excellent Lingbi stones. The final chapter provides information on known ancient stones.
This high quality, soft-bound book with excellent photographs comes in a slip case. It is an expensive book by Chinese standards. Despite the cost, this book supersedes other earlier published volumes as the best single source for information about Lingbi stones.
Alashan Stone Museum (阿拉善石博园).
Alashan Stone Museum Administrative Committee. 208 pp. No ISBN number. 200 RMB.
This beautifully illustrated book of Gobi Desert Stones was published one year after the 2011 opening of the 70,000 square foot stone museum in the center of Alashan, Inner Mongolia. Its publication coincided with the 7th Alashan Tourist Cultural Festival.
The stones illustrated in this volume are mainly from the central Gobi Desert and featured numerous large grape agates, large pieces of colorful chalcedony and jasper, fractured concretions, and some petrified objects including wood. These are hard stones with high silica content. A few pieces of carved Gobi Desert stones are included in this work. The great variations in shapes, sizes, color and texture are truly amazing.
This is a quality, hard-bound book with excellent photographs. Each stone illustrated is accompanied by a brief information about its size, stone type, name and owner. These stones were exhibited in the museum.
This stone museum has now been superseded with a new, larger, and more luxurious stone museum that opened in September 2015. This is indicative of the importance of viewing stones to the municipality of Alashan and its economy.
The Art World in Natural Dali Marble. (天然大理石中的，芸术世界).
Yunnan Science Technology Publishing Company, Kunming. 120 pp. ISBN: 978-7-5416-217-3. 168 RMB when published.
This is an extensive photo album of 426 selected pieces of sliced Dali marble picture stones. They are presented in three major categories: 1) characters, flowers, and birds, 2) landscape scenes, and 3) people. The vast majority of the stones fall into the landscape scene category. These show the vast and amazing array of scenes and color combinations found in these thinly sliced pieces of marble. It is no wonder that they are often referred to as “picture stones” or “dream stones.” The photograph in this volume is excellent and with each marble photograph the name and dimensions of the piece are provided. Text is minimal and is limited to just six pages. Words are often inadequate to describe the scenes and ways to interpret each panel. Some are complex, intricate, and colorful while others are simple black and white mountain scenes.
Blue Mountain Spirit, Natural Marble Stone Painting
Selected Collection. (苍山魂)
Dali City Natural Stone Marble Association. Dali, 110 pp. No ISBN number.
This is a photo album of outstanding Dali picture stones each with the name of the stone, its owner, and the dimensions of each stone. It also includes the owner’s telephone number, presumably for benefit of potential buyers of the stones. This appears to be an annual publication and marketing products for these stones. It is a handsome soft-bound publication with excellent quality photographs. It is a useful tool for people interested in building a collection of these stones as one can see the size range of sliced stones being produced.
China Chaohou Wax Stone Collection. (中国蜡石集).
South China University of Technology Press, Shenzhen. 348 pp. ISBN 978-7-5623-3223-7. 388 RMB.
This thick hefty tome is another high quality photographic album featuring a wide range of Yellow Wax stones. If you looking for a single book and don’t read Chinese, this may be the one for you. There is no background information or chapters on the history and categories of these stones, just hundreds of images of stones. It is organized into five major chapters. Each photograph is excellent, revealing all the details of the stone and its base. Each stone featured is accompanied by its name, dimensions, and a short paragraph. If you are seeking more background and more detailed information about these stones, you should refer to Wax Stones of South China by Wu Peide et al. 2000.
Talking With Stones. (与石对话).
Xinjiang Art and Photograph Press, Urumchi. 383 pp. ISBN 978-7-80744-980-5. 399 RMB hardbound, 120 RMB softcover.
Yang Xingli is a serious collector of Xinjiang stones from northwestern China, and has prepared and published a lavish book about these stones. Yang feels deeply that stones can bring various forms of happiness to people who take time to enjoy and appreciate them. This is basically a photo album featuring over 700 stones that have been arranged according to different categories. The categories are: person, animal, scenery, and item. The latter category include stones that remind viewers of objects such as ships, sails, boots, hats, wine bottle, bowls and basins, and stones that resemble semi-precious gemstones such as Hotan Jade. The stones illustrated in this book are variously shaped cobbles and pebbles, agates, fossils, jade, ventifacts, and others found in this dry desert region of China. Two or three stones are illustrated on each page along with the measurements of each stone. The photographs are sharp and the layout is very attractive.
This book is an excellent source for viewing the great variety of stones found in this region of China. Don’t expect to learn about the geological or mineralogy of these stones or about the history of stone appreciation in this region; it is not here. But, this is a beautifully produced book and weighty at over two kilograms. An added advantage is that Yang, the author, provides the text in both Chinese and English.
China Liuzhou Long River Stones.
China Culture Publishing Company. 291 pages. ISBN: 978-988-21931-3-O/Y. 688 RMB when published.
The longest river in China runs for over 3900 miles (6,300 km) from the Tibetian Plateau through extensive mountainous areas and across central China until it flows into the Pacific Ocean near Shanghai. It is known widely in western countries by its penjin name, Yangtze; however, in China it is known as the Long River. This river is fast-flowing and drops quickly in the upper reaches. As a result, millions of river cobbles are deposited along the banks and in rocky bars. They are variable and make a wide range of attractive viewing stones. The popularity of Long River stones has risen sharply over the last three decades.
This volume contains illustrations of over 800 different stones. It is divided into four major categories—image stones, letter stones, form stones, and other types. The image stone category is further subdivided into landscapes, figures, and animals. The foreword and postscript are in English and Chinese. Most of the stones are rounded, ovoid to ellipsoid in shape or nearly so. No mountain-shaped stones in this volume! Instead, there is an amazing array of color and pattern stones.
China Liuzhou Long River Stones is a high quality hardbound volume in a slip case. It is an important reference for stone connoisseurs specializing in Long River stones and for those interested in pattern stones.
The Variety of Marvellous Stones of Liuzhou.
Shenzhen Haitian Publishing & Printing Company. Shenzhen. 61 pp. No ISBN.
This is an important book in that it documents an early exhibition of stones in Liuzhou, China, one of the first cities where modern stone appreciation began. The variety of stones collected and exhibited was limited at this time and before many of the popular names such as Dahua, Sanjiang, Moore, etc. were used. Instead, stones were grouped under headings such as horizontal veined cobble, protruding veined cobble, common graphite, pictographic graphite and others. The term graphite that is used in the volume is the same as the modern Ink Mountain stones of today. The limited text is in both Chinese and English; thus giving English reading audiences a glimpse of the state of stone appreciation in the early 1990s in China.
Mi Fu and Stone Appreciation Culture in Xiangyang. (襄阳米芾与赏石文化).
Skyhorse Publications Ltd., Hong Kong. 203 pp. ISBN: 978-962-450-530-6. 38 RMB when published.
On November 8, 2007, many serious stone collectors and scholars gathered in Xiangfan, Hubei province to participate in a two-day 8th Chinese Art Festival & First Dingtai “Mi Fu Cup” International Shangshi Exhibition. This marked the 900 anniversary of the great Chinese calligrapher/painter, bureaucrat, and stone connoisseur. A symposium was held during the festival to examine Mi Fu’s role in Chinese shangshi culture. A total of 30 papers were presented and these are presented in this book.
Mi Fu (1052-1107) is credited with developing the ancient stone evaluation criteria shou (thinness), lou (channels), tou (holes), and zhou (wrinkles) in the Song dynasty. These criteria established the foundation for evaluating stones from that time to the present. Papers showed variations of characteristics in different centuries. A Song dynasty version published in the Stone Table by Yuanggong used the terms xiu, shou, ya & tou, while a later book in the Ming dynasty used xiu, shou, shu and tou. Despite these variations, the four initial characteristics prevailed. Mi Fu developed these criteria from the stones he cherished the most and the ones he was most familiar with—taihu and lingbi, and possibly ying and kunshan.
Mi Fu is venerated today in China and held in high esteem among stone connoisseurs and among painters and calligraphers. His evaluation system is still used for certain stones, especially the four famous ancient stones. Most modern stones, particularity those originating in rivers do not fit into Mi’s criteria and have, instead, a newer modern set of criteria.
This is a valuable addition to the growing body of Chinese stone appreciation literature and to the important early contributions of Mi Fu.
Julong Bi, The Jewel of the Sea-west. (海西瑰宝/九龙壁).
Zhangzhou Literature and Art Committee and Zhangzhou Rock Culture Committee. 352 pp.
No ISBN number. No price given.
This is the most comprehensive book published on Jiulong Bi or Nine-Dragon River stones. These beautiful hard stones are found in the Jiulong River in Fujian province. Jiulong Bi stones have been collected and admired in China since the Tang and Song dynasties. The short introductory material is published in Chinese and English and contains useful factual information. The remainder of the book is devoted to full page photographs of the wide range of forms of these stones. They are naturally shiny due to the presence of silcate materials that have been polished in the river bed.
The excellent photographs are divided into three major categories—figures, landscapes and patterns. Three hundred and forty plates of stones—all single stones per page except for one plates with multiple small stones displayed in a stand.
Zhang Yong & Huang Xin. Eds. 2008
Malachite in China. (中華孔雀石).
People’s Publishing Corporation, Beijing. 207 pp. ISBN 978-7-80208-479-7. 298 RMB
This is an essential reference for people who collect malachite or have a substantial interest in this mineral for its natural beauty alone. The editors have wisely included ten pages of historical and introductory material about malachite in both English and Chinese. Thus, this book will appeal to a much wider audience. There are 186 full pages of beautiful color illustrations of different types of natural malachite pieces. Many of the pages contain only a single stone allowing user to see the intriguing detail present in many of the specimens. The illustrations are divided into four major categories based upon surface texture. They are: skin or shell-like (botryoidal), stalactite-like, villous or velvety, and others which include combinations with azurite and malachite. The specimens in this volume came from various mines and open pits through out China. Each stone illustrated is identified with a name, dimensions, its origin, and the name of the owner.
Malachite in China is a quality hard bound book with a large 28 x 21 cm size. The signatures are sewn and bound into a volume that will last. The photographs and their reproduction in this book are excellent and every detail of the minerals and their bases is visible.
Chinese Stone Appreciation Masters. (中国賞石名家).
Zhongguo Shangshi Mingjia. Guangxi Art Publisher. Liuzhou. 6 vols. 720 pp. total. 1080 RMB.
The publishers have raised the bar on new books published about Chinese stone appreciation. This six-volume cased set features some of the finest private collections owned by individuals. Each volume contains 120 pages and focuses on a different individual or family and beautifully illustrates the finest stones in their holdings. The color photographs are excellent; this is some of the best stone photography we have seen. The photographer Zhang Wei also serves as chief editor of this work. The majority of the stones illustrated originated from southern China and Guangxi Province, in particular. Each of the individual volumes comes with its own case.
This new book was first released during the 2010 Liuzhou International Fantastic Stone Festival. It is a first class publication that should be in the library of every serious collector of modern Chinese stones.
Chinese Stone Appreciation Masters. (中国賞石名家). Volume 2.
Hongguo Shangxi Mingjia. Guangxi Art Publishers, Liuzhou. 6 parts. 720 pp. ISBN: 978-7-5494-0581-7. 1080 RMB when published.
This boxed set of six books features great stones from six outstanding collectors in different regions of China ranging from the Gobi Desert to southwestern China to Taiwan. It follows the same format as the first volume of six books published in 2010 by the editor and skilled photographer, Zhang Wei. Each of the six cased books is 120 pages in length and contains some of the finest photographs of excellent stones you will see anywhere.
Three of the books feature collections primarily of Gobi Desert stones while another book contains many stones from Taiwan. The apparent goal of this series is to feature the finest stones in the collections of the most experienced and knowledgeable stone collectors in China. Great care was taken in setting up the display of each stone before it was photographed. As a result, each photograph should be carefully studied to gain a better understanding of modern Chinese appreciation. Regrettably, few copies of this excellent book will reach Western stone collectors. As a result, more Western opinions of Chinese stones will be based upon the common and more abundant mediocre stones seen in the marketplaces. This is unfortunate, because the great stones and their accompanying high quality bases are rarely seen by foreign visitors, except in volumes such as this one.
Practice in Stone Appreciation: Selected Works of Stone Appreciation from Zhang Wei.
Guangxi Fine Arts Publishing House. Nanning. 2 vols. Each volume 318 pp. ISBN: 978-7-5494-0617-3. 218 RMB when published.
The primary focus of this book is the various aspects of displaying viewing stones. In Imperial China, wealthy home owners had a building or room that was used to greet visitors and display art. This is virtually impossible in modern Chinese apartments. As a result, people have used cabinets and shelves for displaying stones. Some have studied Japanese display techniques, while others have been experimenting with modern approaches to stone display. The display techniques used in this book has, in part, been influenced by modern Japanese suiseki concepts.
Volume one contains extensive background information relating to display concepts, while much of the second volume is devoted to illustrating various ways an individual stones can be oriented or displayed. Often, a single stone is illustrated on different types of bases. This is illustrated with numerous color photographs. Zheng devotes an entire page to a single stone and illustrates the different ways it can oriented and displayed. He has given careful consideration to a wide variety of display concepts. As a result, this volume is the most comprehensive one in Chinese for Chinese stones.
Stone Collection of Zhang Wei (张卫藏石).
Guangxi Arts Publishing Company. Nan Ning. 2 volumes. ISBN: 978-7-5494-0599-2/G. 760 RMB when published.
This very attractive two-volume publication in a slipcase features the private stone collection of Zhang Wei. Zhang has an impressive collection of stones that are divided into two major categories. “Stones from rivers” is featured in volume one, while volume two presents stones from the Gobi Desert. More and more owners of large, private collections of outstanding stones are now publishing books of their holdings, and this is a fine example of that genre.
The quality of the stones is excellent. They are beautifully displayed on stands, various types of trays, wood slabs, or, in some instances, without any bases. Some stones have traditional bases and stands, while others are displayed in very modern style treatments. Zhang is very creative in his selection of bases and methods of display. Books like this are valuable because they show how major collectors are displaying their stones at this time.
The Essence of The Second China Appreciation Stone Exhibition.
Lingnan Art Publishing Company. 188 pp. ISBN: 7-5362-1501-0. 150 RMB for softbound and 200 RMB for hardbound when published.
This important book documents the wide range of stones that were collected and displayed in this early exhibition in Liuzhou, a city that was perhaps the leading center in China for the development of modern stone appreciation and the location of the largest stone market in China in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Six selected papers were included in the latter part of the book. These provide readers with important guidelines and criteria for appreciating viewing stones. An unusual feature of this publication is that the entire book is in Chinese and English.
The book devotes 148 pages to illustration of the stones exhibited. Each page has between one and five stones featured, and provides information about each stone, its size, and owner. The photographs are excellent. It is interesting to note that many stones carried the name “cobble” because they were harvested from different rivers. Years later, some of these stones became known as pottery and Dahua stones. Many stones included in this catalog were labeled as “black limestone” only to be renamed “Ink Mountain stones” a few years later.
Selections of Lingbi in China. (中國霊壁石精品荟萃).
Anhui Art Publishing House. Heifi, China. 264 pp. ISBN 7-5398-1309-1. 300 RMB when published.
This volume was produced in association with the The First Lingbi Cultural Festival of China held from November 8-18, 2004. It is an impressive work with nine pages of introductory text that covers the history of Lingbi to the present. A classification system based first on size and then subdivided on other features is included. Stones are divided into four groups: garden stones, lobby stones, desk stones, and playable stones.
High quality photographs of 365 excellent stones comprise the bulk of this beautifully produced book. The large format, 21 X 28.5 cm, with only one stone or occasionally two stones illustrated per page allows readers to examine every detail of each stone. The color photograph is excellent. The photographs are organized into four sections: pure offering (as in gongshi), landscape, figure, and Zen meaning. Studying this book is a great way to learn what Lingbi stones look like, their characteristics, and how they are displayed, often in elaborate bases.
Feixian Stones. (Fei Xian Shi).
189 pp. Geological Publishing Company, Beijing. ISBN: 978-7-116-05441-7. 268 RMB when published.
Feixian stone is a broad category that includes several types of stones found in Fei County in Shandong province. Many of these larger stones—northern Taihu and bamboo--are used as garden rocks, while smaller ones—turtle, petrified wood, ink jade, and ginger—are used as interior viewing stones. The focus of this book is Taihu-like stones that are found in this county. These are light colored, water-eroded limestone pieces in varying irregular or abstract shapes. They resemble the weathered stones from Lake Taihu and some of the lighter colored Lingbi stones and even the large Ying stones that are dug from the earth. Most of the underlying stone in southeastern, southern, and southwestern China is ancient marine limestone. Thus, the similarities to these other types is not surprising.
This is an attractive book generously illustrated with high quality photographs that show the range in size, shape, and color of these stones. We believe that the original color when removed from the ground is darker but with oxidation the surface color becomes lighter and whitish. We also believe that many of these stones may be sold in the marketplace (one word) under the generic name Taihu stones.
Zhu Guohong. 2010
Famous Stone Collections in Liuzhou. Ba Gui Collection.
Luizhou Color Printing Co., 226 pp. No ISBN number. No price given.
The City of Liuzhou in Guangxi Province is known as the stone capital of China and this volume introduces their first major museum, the Bagui Stone Museum (Bagui Qishi Guan), devoted to the display of Chinese viewing stones. The museum consists of two major buildings adjacent to each other. One was constructed in 1994, followed by the second in 1999. The Bagui Qishi Guan served as the principal stone museum in Luizhou until 2010 when it was replaced by a new museum approximately four times larger than the original facility.
This book documents pictorially the Bagi Stone Museum, thus, it is an important reference to the early history of stone appreciation in Liuzhou. The first 36 pages present scenes of different aspects of the museum, while the bulk of the book presents over 185 of their finest stones, one per page. Each stone is beautifully photographed and reproduced. The range of stones held in high esteem during the period from the early 1990s through 2010 is well documented. The final portion of the book is devoted to a 12-page time line of important developments in the history and development of the Bagui Qishi Guan.
The Late Work of Monk Daixu with 100 Peculiar Paintings.
Culture and Art Publishing Company, Beijing. Xx pages. ISBN number 978-7-5039-3369-7/I.898. Price when published: 48 RMB.
This modern volume reproduces the original book written by Chu Deli and published in 1933 and adds additional articles about Daixu. It is a book about the writings, poems, and paintings of a Buddhist monk, Daxiu (1869-1932), who entered a monastery at age 13 and rose to become the abbot of the Hanshan Temple in Suzhou in Jiangsu province, China. Among his accomplishments, Daxiu completed a masterpiece “Hundred Stone Garden” between 1928 and 1930. The original book included paintings of 100 stones, and was likely the most important illustrated book of stones produced during the Republic of China period (1915-1945). Daxiu’s paintings were described as extremely colorful. His illustrated book of stones has been overlooked by Western writers of Chinese stone appreciation. Fortunately, this modern volume assembles 10 articles about Daxiu, 20 poems, and reproduces his stone paintings. This period in Chinese history was thought to be a quiet time with few important contributions, however, this work provides an opportunity for scholars of Chinese stone paintings to study this transitional period between dynastic and modern China.
The paintings are reproduced in black and white in this book. Many of the illustrated stones are obviously garden stones or even larger stone formations with trees growing near their peaks. Other stones are featured without evidence of their size or location. No stones are shown in basins or carved wood bases. Daxiu’s paintings bear a resemblance to some of the colored stone paintings of the late Qing dynasty Zhou Tang (courtesy name Zhaobo), however, a serious comparison would require access to Daxiu’s colored paintings.
Resonate Stone Treasure Mountain Retreat or Quingbao shanzhuang
Privately published. 119 pp. No ISBN number or price given.
We are featuring this book to illustrate that privately published books can be sources of useful information and also to illustrate how some of the higher quality stone dealers build a reputation of being well informed sources of high quality materials. Zhu owns and operates an attractive stone and antique shop in Guangzhou in Jiangsu Province. He specializes in stones appreciated during the Imperial period. In this volume, he has illustrated many of the finer stones in his collection. There is an excellent photograph of a stone on one page and the related information on the facing page. This allows readers to study the fine detail of each stone.
The book was produced for his regular customers and potential new clients rather than a book for sale. A presentation copy is an effective way of helping to educate customers while building customer loyalty. Zhu sells fine quality stone, furniture, and paintings in his shop. The shop is a pleasure to visit and we found it enjoyable to talk with him about stones appreciation. He generously shares his knowledge of stones.
Zhou Hongxing’s Painting Collection of Natural Marble.（周宏兴天然大理石画珍藏集）
Writer’s Publishing House, Beijing. 227 pp. ISBN: 7-5063-1901-2/J. 360 RMB when published.
This is an important work on the beautiful sliced marble produced in Dali in Yunnan province. It represents one man’s effort over 20 years to document the finest examples that are used as decorative pieces, works of natural art, and incorporated into some furniture. The text throughout this richly illustrated book is in Chinese and English. It is the best reference to this type of stone that we are aware of.
The book is organized into three main sections (volumes as named in the book): Scenery of Mountains and Water, The World of People, and The World of Animals. Each of these section is further divided into subcategories. One can learn and understand why the Chinese place such high value on Dali marble by studying the photographs and reading the accompanying captions. The beautiful pieces come in a vast array of patterns, no two are alike. If you have any interest in Dali sliced marble pieces, the best in China, then this book is the best reference.