An Unexpected Gladness:Chinese Scholar's Rocks - Desert Varnish

2 months ago

Feature:Chinese scholar's rocks (1*) - Desert Varnish (2*), size 18x16x28cm, the base of the wood is Pterocarpus santalinus wood.
Collector:Chen Shihong
Source:Private collection
1* Chinese scholars' rocks, also known as scholar stones or viewing stones, are naturally occurring or shaped rocks which are traditionally appreciated by Chinese scholars. Scholars rocks can be any color, and contrasting colors are not uncommon. The size of the stone can also be quite varied: scholars rocks can weigh either hundreds of pounds or less than one pound. Chinese scholar's rocks influenced the development of Korean suseok and Japanese suiseki.
2* Desert varnish is the thin red-to-black coating found on exposed rock surfaces in arid regions. Varnish is composed of clay minerals, oxides and hydroxides of manganese and/or iron, as well as other particles such as sand grains and trace elements. The most distinctive elements are manganese (Mn) and iron (Fe). The sources for desert varnish components come from outside the rock, most likely from atmospheric dust and surface runoff. Streaks of black varnish often occur where water cascades over cliffs. No major varnish characteristics are caused by wind. The color of rock varnish depends on the relative amounts of manganese and iron in it: manganese-rich varnishes are black; iron-rich varnishes are red or orange; varnishes with similar amounts of manganese and iron are some shade of brown. Varnish surfaces tend to be shiny when the varnish is smooth and rich in manganese.


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For more information, visit Shanghai Viewing Stone Collectors' Association

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