Traditional Rock Balancing and Stone Stacking

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Like the Hawai'ian Islands, Japan's islands are built from volcanos, but much older, while earthquakes have helped shape a landscape of mountains and hotsprings. A cultural tradition of nature appreciation and a religious tradition of worship have given enhanced meaning to mountains, trees, and rocks. Rustic piles and stacks abound, as do more formal pieces.


The fresh, light lava of Hawai'i is easily stacked or balanced. Temples, fishponds, and other structures abound on the Big Island, with examples of balanced art by natives, locals, and visitors sprinkled among them. Bill Dan has remarked that he was first inspired to begin rock balancing by sculptures he saw on the islands.


The flag of Nunavut features the traditional Inuit inuksuk (also spelled "inukshuk"), found throughout the Arctic. Many modern Canadian artists and artisans have been deeply inspired by this tradition from their nation's far north. Ed Solonyka of writes, "In the last few years, small inuksuit have been sprouting up on most of the outcrops along the main highways of northern Ontario. Some have the traditional shape whereas others are a pile of stone."


Neolithic sites abound in Portugal, with 22,000 year old petroglyphs, Celtic citanias, and Roman bridges forming only part of a rich, ancient tradition. Nearly every possible variation of placing rock upon rock can be found there, whether as venerable as the hills or as fresh as yesterday. Balancing for art may be new in this land, but it has long been done for work.

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© Daliel Leite
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Rock on, Rock ON!

One of Bill's

Bill Dan,
Crissy Field, CA