Curious Details of Suseok Stone, Symbol of Wisdom

Suseok stone, which appeared in the award-winning movie Parasite, soon became a subject of curiosity by a large audience. Especially the metaphorical meaning it carries in the movie is one of the reasons why it is mentioned a lot. The stone, which was hoped to bring luck to the Kim family, the main protagonists of the movie, was actually an important art element in ancient times. In this list, we have listed the unknowns about the suseok stone, which still maintains its importance today. All the curious details of the suseok stone, which has become a symbol of wisdom over time, are with you. Enjoy reading!

1-Nature’s Gift: Suseok

suseok stone

Suseok is the art of collecting and displaying rocks with aesthetic and decorative values in the Korean tradition. The word Suseok is a combination of the words “su” meaning life and spirit and “seok” meaning stone. Suseok stone is called Gongshi in China and Suiseki in Japan. These rocks are shaped by natural elements such as wind and water. Suseok stones can come in a wide variety of colors, sizes, and shapes. Suseok was formerly used mostly by scholars for meditation. For this reason, all the details of the suseok stone, which has become a symbol of wisdom, have been a matter of curiosity.

2- History of Suseok Stone

History of suseok stone

In the history of the Far East, artists were more interested in poetry and painting arts. A new one was added to these branches of art, inspired by nature, in the 7th century. By chance, Chinese statesman Bai Juyi stumbles upon a natural wonder stone in a lake. Bai Juyi, who is also a poet, puts the feelings of the stone into a poem and exhibits it in his home. Owing to his enthusiasm, natural wonder stones have become sought after all over the country. With the influence of Taoism, which advises to be intertwined with nature, this art spread rapidly. It has come to be expected from any cultured person in the country to understand gongshi. This art, which later spread to Japan and then to Korea, has taken a place in the Far East geography.

3- Meaning of Suseok Stone

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Suseok inspired the artists of the time with its structure that resists the wind blowing in nature, water and other elements. Holes and indentations indicate the patience and power of the universe. Respect for the traces of aging and time can be learned through these rocks. The Suseok stone is also a symbol for meditation. Just like a landscape painting, Suseok is a small representation of the universe that allows human to be together with nature again. It is believed that stones carry the essence of nature. Owing to natural factors, stones formed over time can take different shapes and sizes resembling natural objects. However, suseok does not represent a precise meaning. As in many branches of art, the meaning of any stone is related to the imagination of the seer.

4- Properties of Stones

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Suseoks are usually three-scale in Korean tradition: large monumental-shaped stones placed on traditional entryways, medium-sized stones for landscaping Korean gardens, and smaller-scale stones displayed on tables and shelves. In China, where decorative stone art first emerged, stones were chosen from elongated shapes with holes and grooves. In Japan, stones with a flatter and softer finish were exhibited. The product of Korean tradition, suseoks are influenced by Japanese tradition. However, there are differences between the two traditions. Although the Japanese (in suiseki) minimize the change in the stones according to the Chinese, they allow the bottom of the stone to be flattened to facilitate display. However, Koreans do not allow any change in their suseok.

5- Collecting Suseok

suiseki stone parasite movei suseok stone

Where to find the Suseok stone is among the curious details of this stone, which is a symbol of wisdom. These decorative and artistic stones can be collected from almost anywhere: Mountains, valleys, shorelines, stream beds, fields… However, some regions are more suitable for encountering aesthetic stones. Areas with extreme winds, areas of intense erosion, volcanic areas and stream beds extending from steep slopes are the most suitable lands. The stones to be made Suseok should not be the stones that will wear out over time. Sand, moss, soil, etc. on the stone. materials must be cleaned. Artificial methods such as polish applied to give shine to the stone are not preferred in suseok art. Taking the stone in the palm of your hand and rubbing it has been the traditional method of suseok collectors for years.

6- Classification System of Suseok

suiseki stone parasite movei suseok stone

Suseok stones can be included in a wide variety of classifications based on their size, shape, color and element. However, it is generally considered in 3 main categories. The first and most popular are landscape stones. Stones in this group can resemble natural landscapes such as mountains, waterfalls, lakes, islands, caves and plateaus. Object stones form another category. Man-made structures such as bridges, boats, and reed huts are included in this group. Suseoks, which represent creatures such as birds, fish and humans, are also valuable. The third group is the pattern stones. Abstract patterned stones, tiger striped patterned stones, stones resembling celestial bodies are in this group. Stones can be in different colors and textures depending on their location. And it can consist of different minerals.

7- The Ways of Exhibition

suiseki stone parasite movei

In the Korean tradition, care is taken to display suseoks as they are found in nature. It is usually displayed on wooden bases called daiza. Daizas are custom carved into each stone. Daizas in Korean tradition are thinner than other Far Eastern traditions. The reason for this is not to cover the stone and to display it as it is. In rare cases, the bottom part of the stone can be cut and flattened to place it on the ground. However, as we said, this is not a preferred method. Another display method is to place the stones in ceramic trays called suban filled with sand or water. Symmetry is not sought in the display of stones. The important thing is to reflect the stones, which are a part of nature, in their most natural form.

8- Parasite Movie and Suseok Stone

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The story of many of us meeting the suseok stones is undoubtedly owing to the blockbuster movie Parasite. In the movie directed by Bong Joon-ho, the suseok is an important metaphor. A gift from a friend to Ki-woo, the son of the family, the stone was given in the hopes of bringing good luck to the family. At first, it really seems like the stone did its job. The Kim family, who could not even meet their basic needs, found work with various tricks. The Kim family, who has gained the privileges of the upper class for a while, is lucky, but the suseok stone is not in sight. But when things start to go wrong, perhaps as a sign of luck, the stone reappears. This time, however, it doesn’t have its former glory, and the movie eventually turns into a weapon.

9- Popularization of Suseok Stone

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The most popular time of Suseok collections is the Joseon Dynasty time, which covers the 14th and 19th centuries. However, suseok stones gained popularity again in the 1980s. In those years, the newly developing Korean economy also produced its new riches. The newly wealthy businessmen revived the suseok tradition with their new resources. These businessmen were self-taught, not very good academics, but somehow made a lot of money. It has become a shortcut for people who need to adapt to the new situation but also want to spread an air of sophistication. In this sense, the suseok stone is a unique gift for the Kim family, who wants a shortcut to the precious life of the Parks in the movie Parasite.

10- Benefits of Suseok Art

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Suseok is a perfect representation of natural beauty. Each stone is unique and brings inner peace to people. The meanings and feelings that the stones evoke contribute to your imagination. Opening up to nature to obtain suseok stone is an opportunity to get rid of the stress of the city and the tiredness of working life. In this way, you can witness nature, the scenery of high mountains, lakes and rivers, flowers and birds. All stages, from finding the stone to its cleaning and display, will give you a different pleasure. If you trust your dexterity, you can carve your own daiza. You can also create an aesthetic design on a suban-style tray.

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