Today’s post comes from Renee in North Dakota.
Some time ago I submitted a post about a large piece of carved Chinese jade in my possession that my maternal great grandfather hauled from Hamburg, Germany to New York to Minnesota in 1914. I thought it was an incense burner, and couldn’t figure out why it was so important that the family brought it with them when they immigrated to the United States.
My son did a little research this fall and discovered that it isn’t exclusively an incense burner. It is called a Scholar’s Mountain, Scholar’s Rock, or Spirit Stone (Gongshi), and it was used to encourage wisdom and deep thoughts as it was gazed upon. The holes, some natural and some that were carved in it, are for calligraphy or paint brush handles, and the round basin is either for incense or for water for rinsing the brushes. Who’d have thought?
Most were naturally occurring rocks carved and perforated by water, sometimes embellished with carvings, sometimes placed in gardens as points for contemplation or else brought inside. They were chosen on how well they emulated the natural world of landscape, especally mountains and elevations. Ours is 10 inches by 7 inches. It is carved with a stag, a bat, a bear, two ravens, and a honey comb or coral shape. Now that I know this, the shape and design and purpose make sense. I wonder what scholars or deep thinkers might have used this for inspiration.
I used to worry what would happen to this after I am no longer here, and now that son has taken an interest and we know what it is, I think it will continue on its journey with him. He is a scholar and a deep thinker, after all.
Describe a sight or an object that encourages you to think deep thoughts.