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Chinese scholar's rocks facts for kids

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Scholar's rock, 11th century

Chinese scholars' rocks (供石 or gōngshí), also known as scholar stones or viewing stones, are small naturally shaped rocks which are traditionally valued by Chinese scholars.

Scholars rocks can be any color. There are a wide variety of sizes. Scholars rocks can weigh hundreds of pounds or less than one pound. The term also means stones which are placed in traditional Chinese gardens.


Four important qualities for the rocks were recognized in the Tang dynasty. They are: thinness (shou), openness (tou), perforations (lou), and wrinkling (zhou).

Chinese scholar's rocks influenced the development of suseok in Korea and suiseki in Japan.


The origin of the stone is a notable feature.

Gelehrtenstein Museum Rietberg RCH 167
Lingbi stone feom Anhui. Ming Dynasty, 15th century
  • Taihu stone (Taihushi) from Lake Tai, Jiangsu province, limestone
  • Yingde stone (Yingshi or Yingdeshi) from Yingde, Guangdong province, limestone


The evaluation of a scholar's rock identifies subtlety of color, shape, markings and surface. The qualities which are prized include

  • awkwardness or odd symmetry
  • resonance or ringing when struck
  • represents or resemblance to landscape or figure
  • texture
  • moistness or glossy surface

The stone may be displayed on a wooden base that has been carved specifically for the stone. The stones are a traditional subject of Chinese paintings.

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