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Viewing Stones


MING DYNASTY (1368-1644)


The grey limestone is vertically orientated, composed of dramatic overhanging craggy outcrops framing a central C-shaped cavity. The characteristic wrinkled surface is heightened by characteristic veining. The rock is raised on a Suzhoutype hongmu stand.

The upper section of the rock is carved with its name in archaistic script reading Yaoyun Feng 嶢雲峰 (“Cloud Towering Peak”) and signed Gu Wenbin 顧文彬. Gu Wenbin 顧文彬 (1811-1889) was a renowned collector who had one of the finest private collections in China housed at his “Hall of Passing Clouds” (Guoyun Lou 過雲樓) in Suzhou. The collection included numerous rare books, ancient paintings and calligraphy, and a wide range of antiquities; see Gu Wenbin 顧 文彬 and Gu Linshi 顧麟士 [Gu’s grandson (1865-1930)], Guoyun lou shuhua ji xuji 過雲樓書 畫記 續集, ed. Gu Rongmu 顧榮木 and Wang Baoji 汪葆楫 (Nanjing: Jiangsu guji chubanshe , 1999), compilations of Gu Wenbin’s Guoyun lou shuhua ji 過雲樓書畫記 and Gu Linshi’s Guoyun lou xu shuhua ji 過雲樓續書畫記.

The middle right has an inscription which reads Guoyun lou shizang 過雲樓藏石 (“Rock Kept at the Passing Clouds Pavilion”) and signed Yu Yue 俞樾 (“[Inscribed] by Yu Yue”).

Yu Yue 俞樾 (1821-1907), personal name Yinfu 蔭甫, style Quyuan 曲園, was a native of Deqing 德清 in Zhejiang province. A Confucian scholar in the late Qing period, he was an expert in philology and textual studies, and taught and wrote prolifically on the classics and histories. He later moved to Renhe 仁和, now a subdistrict of Hangzhou, was a metropolitan graduate (jinshi 進士) in 1850 and was appointed junior compiler (bianxiu 編修) in the Hanlin Academy 翰林院; he eventually rose to the office of provincial education commissioner (tidu xuezheng 提督學政) of Henan. From 1868 to 1898 Yu was director of the Gujing Jingshe Academy 詁經精舍 (The Refined Lodge of the Exegesis of the Classics), near Mount Gu 孤山 at Hangzhou, founded by Ruan Yuan 阮元 (1764-1849), one of the most influential private academies during the late Qing. Yu was also an expert in philology and textual studies,who taught and wrote prolifically on the classics and histories; he also wrote important works on the Zhuangzi 莊子 (Sayings of Master Zhuang). His collected writings were published as the Chunzai tang quanji 春在堂全書 (Complete Works from the Hall where Springtime Resides).

The left side of the rock is engraved with another inscription in archaic script: 此石四德俱備。曾見宣和石譜中有特異一石頗相似,故名之雲卿。

This rock is perfect in every virtue. I once saw in the Xuanhe shipu 宣和石 譜 (Catalogue of Rock Compiled during the Xuanhe period , 1119-1125) an exceptionally fine rock it quite resembled, so I named it Yunqing (“Cloud Lord”).

Xuanhe shipu 宣和石譜, Catalogue of Rocks from the Xuanhe period , was compiled by Chang Mao 常懋. It is the shortest of all of catalogues compiled for Emperor Huizong 宋徽宗 (1100-1126) of the Song dynasty and contains 61 entries on ancient rocks and rockeries used to decorate and adorn Imperial parks and gardens. It lists the rocks’ measurements, their visual nature and qualities, provenance, site of installation, and, if they happened to have one, the inscriptions they bore.

The top right corner of the rock is inscribed with two characters reading Daifeng 待鳳 “awaiting the Phoenix” in archaic script.

There is a further rectangular seal reading Kefa cang 可法藏 (“Collection of Kefa”) near the bottom of the rock. Kefa refers to Shi Kefa 史可法 (1602- 1645), a politician and calligrapher active in the late Ming dynasty.

Gu Wenbin 顧文彬 (1811-1889) of Guoyun Lou (Passing Clouds Pavilion), Suzhou
Yu Yue 俞樾 (1821-1907) Guoyunlou Collection Shi Kefa 史可法 (1602-1645)

明代  灰靈璧石「嶢雲峰」