Penjing and Viewing Stones in Hong Kong (Part 1) – Nan Lian Garden

In 2010, my wife and I took a month-long trip touring South China on our own. We started in Hong Kong and ended in Shanghai. We saw a lot of penjing and viewing stones, and I will share their photos in a series of travel blogs, starting with the Nan Lian Garden (南莲园池) in Hong Kong.

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Nan Lian Garden is a gem where one can still enjoy tranquility in this bustling city. It is a public park, built in the style of a Tang dynasty garden and modeled after a 1,300 years old garden, Jiang Shouju Yuan (绛守居园池) , in Shanxi, China. It occupies 3.5 hectares, and is landscaped with hills, rocks, lakes, plants and Tang style Chinese timber architecture. There are several exhibits in the garden. I will highlight their Lingnan penjing collection, the Dahua Viewing Stone Museum, and take you through a walk in the garden which has very impressive Pordacarpus trees.

It is a very beautiful place and we spent our time there leisurely. There are a lot of photos to show in this blog.

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The best time to visit the Garden is early morning before the tourists arrive. The place is very quiet with few people.

Dahua Stone Museum

This museum has some of the most beautiful and very large Dahua stones (大化石) I have ever seen. Dahua stones were first discovered in 1997 from the river bed of the Red River (红河) of Dahua County, Guangxi Province, China. Since the completion of a hydroelectric dam in Red River, Dahua stones could only be found in a 6 km stretch of the river down stream from the dam. These stones are silicaeous and jade-like, and have a hardness of 5-7 on the Moh scale. They are sedimentary rocks with high iron and  manganese contents, which give them reddish- to golden-brown colors. They were formed about 250-300 million years ago during the Permian period, and are naturally polished by the fast flowing river.

Two cascading Fukien Tea penjing graced the entrance as if they are welcoming the visitors to the museum

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Orange Jasmine (Murraya paniculata) foundation plantings surrounding the museum. Every one of them are worthy of becoming a beautiful bonsai if planted in pots.

There are two very large Dahua stone group arrangements on sand beds.The sand was raked with circular wave patterns to portray the stones as islands. Although these stones are very  impressive with various shades of ocher, and with layers upon layers of folds smoothed by the force of water, I wished they could be placed outdoors and set further apart such that the viewers could take in a more panoramic view of these massive stones at a distance. However, it is understandable land is a precious commodity in Hong Kong. Nevertheless, their groupings follow examples illustrated in the”Mustard Seed Garden Manual of Paintings“. Continue reading

Chinese Scholar’s Rocks from the University of Florida Harn Museum of Art

The University of Florida‘s Harn Museum of Art at Gainesville is a small museum with wings dedicated to African, American and Asian arts and traveling exhibits. I visited this museum in 2009 and in 2013 when my younger son was doing his graduate study at UF. I was surprised to see several high quality antique Chinese scholar’s rocks (Gongshi, 供石) displayed in their Cofrin Asian Art Wing.

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A group of Chinese scholar’s rocks in the new Cofrin Asian Art Wing. The background is a Japanese garden.

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A 19th-20th century Lingbi Stone.

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Malaysian Suiseki and Viewing Stone – Yellow Wax Stone

Viewing stone and suiseki enthusiasts may be familiar with Chinese Yellow Wax stones(黄蜡石), a type of yellow to brownish yellow hard stone with wax-like, lustrous surface textures. These stones are also found in several South East Asian countries. To learn more about Yellow Wax stone, see Tom Elias‘s excellent article on the subject in 2011 Q4 issue of the BCI magazine.

The followings are Malaysian Yellow Wax stones from  my collection and from my best friend, David Goh’s collection, in Penang, Malaysia.  David and I have been friends for over forty years. Malaysian Yellow Wax stones are found in the state of Kedah, and are called Kedah Yellow Wax Stones (吉打黄蜡石). Their main composition is quartzite, the yellow color varies depending on the amount of iron oxide impurities in the quartz.

David’s Kedah Yellow Wax stones:

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A swirl of multi-colors.

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