Title:Scholar's RockArtist:Artist UnknownDate:early 19th centuryCreation Place:Asia, ChinaCredit Line:Gift of Ruth and Bruce DaytonAccession Number:98.81.2
Ranging from large garden rocks to table-top miniatures, stones were an essential feature of literati existence. Huge white convoluted limestone rocks from Lake T'ai became the preferred rocks for the symbolic stroll-gardens of the Chinese gentry class. Several of these large rocks can be seen in the scholar's study garden (gallery 216) and in the outdoor Chinese garden visable from gallery 200. This small example, however, has been hand carved from reddish steatite to resemble a Lake Ta'i rock. Admired for their unusual shapes and abstract beauty, such rocks symbolize the mountains of the Buddhist and Taoist immortals. Placed on a table or special stand in a library, this rock would have represented the entire cosmological process and served as a meditative object for the scholar.