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.
L’Aete del Suiseki. Collezionare pietre: raccolta, esposizione e uso con I bonsai.
Societa Nazionale del Verde, Milano.
This is an authorized Italian translation and publication of Covello and Yoshimura’s 1984 edition of The Japanese Art of Stone Appreciation: Suiseki and Its Use with Bonsai. As a result of this publication, many Italian bonsai enthusiast could learn about Japanese style stone appreciation. This has led to the development of a strong nationwide group of avid stone aficionados in Italy that follow Japanese style suiseki. This volume was the sole book in Italian until Antonio Ricchiari’s book Suiseki pietre d’arte was published in 2001. These two volumes serve as important references for Italian stone enthusiasts.
XIX Associazione Italiana Amatori Suiseki Congresso Nazionale—Edizione 2016 (XIX AIAS Annual Congress 2016 Edition)
AIAS, Sarzana, Italy. 136 pages. No ISBN number. 25 Euros.
This important reference serves to document the work and events of the AIAS while providing the global stone appreciation community with type and quality of stones displayed during their 2016 convention. The contents of this volume are in Italian and English; thus, it has greater appeal to a wider audience. The 2016 convention was held in Bondeno by Gonzaga September 24 and 25. A major display of quality stones was staged, mainly stones from Italy but also several from Japan and Vietnam. All the stones exhibited are illustrated in this book. Each of the exhibitors is featured along with the stones they displayed.
The AIAS conventions are also an opportunity to help education their member’s education and help them develop a deeper understanding of stone appreciation. Three lectures were scheduled during the convention. Daniela Schifano made two presentations—one on the Japan Suiseki Exhibition and the second on The Seasons in Tokonoma. The third lecture, Enhancing Suiseki, The Japanese Tradition was by Tom Elias. His two-part article on this subject is included in this book.
A high level of stone appreciation culture has developed in Italy thanks to the annual conventions and subsequent publications of the AIAS. Thanks to the sustained efforts of Luciana Queirolo and others, Italy has become the leading country in Europe for promoting the art of stone appreciation.
Suiseki pietre d’arte.
Progetto Bonsai. Palermo. 144 pp. No ISBN. 25.3 Euros when published.
This is the first Italian language book on stone appreciation and helps explain why the hobby of collection and displaying unusual stones is so well established in Italy. It is an excellent book that provides a brief introduction to both Chinese and Japanese stone appreciation culture. Ricchiari relies heavily upon the earlier work of Covello and Yoshimura; thus, his volume emphasizes Japanese practices and conclusions arrived at by members of the European Suiseki Association. He introduces readers to the philosophy supporting Japanese suiseki and the Japanese concepts of wabi, sabi, shibui and yugen. He presents a detailed classification system that has intrigued western stone hobbyists more than their Japanese counterparts. A fairly detailed account of displayed techniques is presented; however, there is an over emphasis on precise measurements which is one of the misconceptions that western stone enthusiasts have about Japanese display techniques. It ends with a nice introduction to bonkei (tray landscape), saikei (miniature landscape scene), and hako-niwa (miniature garden).
This is soft bound, generously illustrated volume with an attractive design and layout. There is a 23-page photographic gallery in the middle of the book to provide new stone hobbyists with examples of different fine stones and how to display them. Ricchiari is also the author of a 1995 book on bonsai. His contributions to the Italian art of bonsai and stone appreciation are significant.
Giunti Editore S.p.A., Florence and Milan. 64 pages, ISBN 978-88-09-06308-2. Nine Euros.
The Nanjing Rain Flower pebbles, famous for their colors and patterns, were among the first stones collected and appreciated as aesthetic objects. Their appeal continues to the present as thousands of collectors in China regularly exhibit these stones submerged in small white bowls with water. Now, the Italian version of these small stones are presented in Giottolandia. Mari has been collecting rare and unusual small pebbles along the coasts and rivers of central southern Tuscany. These stones have extraordinary patterns. Mari described them as “where colors and lines form compositions of absolute beauty—such as the beauty of some sunsets and of infinite variety.” This volume clearly illustrates that small stones can be just as fascinating as the larger pattern stones that are collected.
A variety of these small pebbles are beautifully illustrated in this soft cover book. Two short contributed essays precede a longer article The Discovery of Giottolandia by Mari. Most of this book is devoted to color illustrations of “Italian Rain Flower” pebbles. Each stone resembles a contemporary abstract paintings where lines intersect and colors sharply contrast with each other.
Kazari, L’arte di esporre il Bonsai e il Suiseki (The Art of Displaying Bonsai and Suiseki).
Crespi Editori, Parabiago, Italy. 256 pp. ISBN 88-87257-28-0. 49.50 €.
This newly published book about the art of displaying bonsai and suiseki is truly excellent. It represents the culmination of many years of study in Japan by Rossi with leading bonsai and display masters including Yamada, Kobayashi, and Sudo. Rossi embraced the Keido School of display that was established in 1986 when Katayama Teiichi established his Keido Katayama reflecting his strong advocacy for refined displays using traditional Japanese tokonoma, display tables, scrolls and small accessories.
This volume is divided into thirteen well illustrated chapters beginning with the importance of the display of bonsai and suiseki. Following chapters are devoted to the tokonoma, use of space, screens, positioning bonsai and suiseki in display spaces, elements used in display, display tables, accompanying plants, and small accessories (tenpai). Each chapter has numerous photographs showing the correct and incorrect ways of displaying tree and stones.
This is a beautiful, well designed, large format book that will appeal to a wide audience interested in learning more about this subject. The text is in Italian and English. The translator and editor provided a clear and concise English translation of the Italian text. Thus, this book is a valuable resource to English reading enthusiasts of bonsai and stone appreciation.
I Suiseki, Magiche Pietre dell’Appennino (Suiseki, Magical Stones of Appennino)
Quaderni del Lascito Cuneo. 79 pp. Documentation Centre of the Muncipal Library of San Colombiana Certenoli. No ISBN number or price given.
This is this is an important early book in Italian on Asian style stone appreciation. It was produced by long-time stone collectors Andrea and Mirella Schenone and features stones from their collection. They were collecting stones for their natural beauty long before they heard of Japanese suiseki. Several other stone collectors were enlisted to write short articles about Japanese suiseki and about the geology of the Ligurian region where the Schenones live. Vincent Covello and Yuji Yoshimura’s earlier book on suiseki provides much of the basis for the definition and classification of suiseki.
The second majority of the book—pages 26-78, is devoted to to full-page illustration of many of the stones in the Schenone’s personal collections. Ligurian palombino stones dominate those illustrated, some in color and the remainder in black and white. The palombino stones are composed of limestone and are generally lighter in color and softer than most of the Japanese suiseki. Despite that, most of the stones are beautiful landscape scenes although there are several great animal figure stones illustrated as well.