Title:Display RockArtist:Artist UnknownDate:late 18th-early 19th centuryCreation Place:Asia, ChinaCredit Line:Gift of Ruth and Bruce DaytonAccession Number:96.97.28
Ranging from large garden rocks to table miniatures, stones were an essential feature of literati existence. Huge, convoluted limestone rocks from Lake T'ai became the preferred rocks for the symbolic gardens of China's gentry class and are often pictured in paintings. This example was found in Anhui province. Admired for their unusual shapes, abstract beauty and resonant sounds when struck, such rocks symbolize the mountains of the Buddhist and Taoist immortals. Their odd shapes, marked by centuries of water erosion, appealed directly to the literati fondness for natural forms. Placed on a table or special stand in a library, this rock would have represented the entire cosmological process. A microcosm for the universe, it served as a meditation object for the scholar.