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Chinese Viewing Stones Revealed at the Montreal Botanical Garden!

Gongshi, Chinese viewing stones
Credit: Jardin botanique de Montréal (Michel Tremblay)
Gongshi, Chinese viewing stones
Chinese Viewing Stones Revealed at the Montreal Botanical Garden!

In addition to theMontrealBotanical Garden’s intricate collection of miniature landscapes, penjings, visitors can now explore our collection of Chinese viewing stones. These naturally formed stones represent a miniature version of mineral shapes. The sinuous curves and cavities of these rare stones capture the imagination and evoke a landscape or figure such as waterfalls, cliffs or even a zodiac sign! Have a look for yourself and see what you can find when looking at these elaborate forms.

Chinese societies have a long history collecting and appreciating stones as well as using rocky elements to adorn gardens and courtyards. Gongshi (供石) is an ancient Chinese art with origins spanning back to the Tang dynasty (618-907). During this time, gongshi, meaning “scholar or viewing stones” emerged as an art form. Scholars and academics serving the empire, incorporated stones into their private space as a medium for reflection, contemplation and escape. When in the presence of gongshi, enthusiasts meditate, philosophize, paint or write poetry.

Discover portable mountains

Bringing these elements indoors and in gardens allow for a deeper connection with the natural world. Gongshi can represent a journey through sacred mountains and an experience with the essence of qi, the vital universal force. For the Chinese, this stone holds the framework for the world; within it is the purest form of energy.

This summer, theMontrealBotanical Gardenshowcases an important gift from the City ofShanghai, which includes 10 gongshis donated to the garden in 2001. Visitors are invited to admire this collection of viewing stones alongside the garden’s collection of penjings, a series of veritable living sculptures.

The Gongshi Collection is on display from June 15th to October 15th in the Garden of Weedlessess within the Exhibition Greenhouse Complex.

Many thanks to Matthiew Quinn, Specialized horticulturist responsible for the Penjing collection, for collaborating on this blog post.

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