The History of Suiseki
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Common Classifications   
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Japanese Terminology
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Collecting Suiseki
Where To Collect
Tools & Gear
Evaluating Suiseki
Ten Views of a Rock
The Science of Suiseki
Preparing Your Suiseki
Using Acid
Drying Stones
Stone Cutting
Developing A Patina
Caring for Suiseki
Displaying Your Suiseki
The Daiza
The Suiban
The Tokonoma
Other Displays
Overall Design

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Displays: | Overall Design | Daiza | Suiban | Tokonoma | Tables | Other Displays
The Suiban and The Doban

The suiban and doban are oval or rectangular trays used to display suiseki. Soft delicate smooth suiseki are best suited to a suiban or doban, more shallow and oval trays with a narrow lip or no lip and plain legs. Large and rugged suiseki are appropriate for powerful and ornate trays.

Common tray styles/features:

  • short legs
  • rectangular or oval
  • earthenware, glazed or unglazed
  • metal trays (called "doban" and are usually bronze)
  • bonsai trays (shallow, oval or rectangular)

    Tray colors most preferred:

  • neutral colors (especially shades of gray)
  • pastel colors (especially beige, tan)

    Most typical tray sizes:
  • 16 to 18 inches long and 10 to 13 inches wide
  • Height ratio to stone: 1: 2 and up to 1: 7 for larger stones
  • suiban should typically be twice the length of the suiseki
  • trays that are too large can be filled with a miniature accessory: cottage, sailboat, human figure, etc.

    Filling the tray

  • trays are usually filled with sand and/or water
  • height of the water above the level of the sand: 1 inch
  • sand should be level and smooth; smooth using using feathers, spoons, shaking side to side, etc.
  • sand should be sieved and washed
  • fine-grained sand used with smaller stones
  • coarse sand used with larger stones
  • pure beige sand (white is considered too bright)
  • fineness: between screen-mesh 24 and 14 lines per inch.
  • sand texture depends on what best complements the stone

    Proper positioning

  • stone is anchored or buried, not floating or sitting
  • stone should be off-center, slightly behind imaginary horizontal line running through middle of tray
  • position approx. 60% of distance from left or right side of tray
  • ample room left between the stone and all edges of the container
  • for stones angled to the right ( or highest peak is on left side) stone placed on left side of tray
  • for stones angled to the left ( or highest peak is on right side) stone placed on right side of tray
  • most suiseki are tilted toward the viewer

    Miniature accessories
    Although miniature accessories are not frequently used in the Art of Suiseki, they can, if carefully chosen, heighten the viewer's appreciation of the suieki. Accessories can also balance a display when the stone is too small for a particular tray.

  • sometimes used: miniature houses, boats, bridges, animals, or human figurines
  • should be inconspicuous and accent strong points of the stone
  • should be in scale
  • should be of fine quality (copper or bronze figures are among finest)
  • must be in scale with scene suggested by the stone
  • should not limit the suggestive nature of the stone

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