A cheap Shoushan stone seal carved in Hong Kong

Shoushan Stones


Shoushan stones are unique to the hilly areas around the Shoushan village to the north of Foochow city, Fukien Province, China. Of the more than a hundred varieties of Shoushan stones, the mango-colour t'ien huang stones ("paddy-field yellow") are most precious. In 1992, a 600-gram t'ien huang carving was sold at HK$1,600,000 ($300,000 Cdn).

"Paddy-field yellow" stones are usually obtained as single stones embedded in the paddy field bed along a strip of the Shoushan Stream flowing around Shoushan village. However, so far I have not witnessed the actual "mining" operation.

This "big belly buddha," as it is commonly called, is not a "paddy-field yellow" stone. He is about 8 cm long. This monk lived in the 9th century China. He always carried a big cloth sack with him, wandering around. Hence his name as "Cloth Sack Monk (布袋和尚)."

China issued in 1997 a set of four postage stamps with the Shoushan stones as the theme. One of the stamps features a "paddy-field yellow" stone.


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From the Gardener: Louis Chor. Canada, March 1997. Revised May 2019.