A.I.A.S. Exhibition and Congress - 2016 Edition


September 24th - 25th 2016

National Suiseki Exhibition

Corte Matilde - Bondeno di Gonzaga (Mantova)
XIX National A.I.A.S. Congress 2016   


Report by Mrs.Daniela Schifano - Photo by Mr. Carlo Laghi - Translation by Mr. Vito Di Venere

Photo Gallery Awarded Stones(requires Flash Player)                
Photo Gallery Other Stones(requires Flash Player)                

In 2016 , thanks to the hospitality  of the Gonzaga Bonsai Club , the AIAS Congress returns in Bondeno, under the Church which has become  a symbol of continuity  of the social life 2012-2016 : four years  of a firm reconstruction  after the earthquake of May 20th. The AIAS Congress was indeed hoisted  in 2012  in these same places  and the signs of the earthquake  were still visible and dramatic.

The parish church of St.Thomas Apostle of the 1768, has suffered very severe  damages , in particularly in the higher part of the façade  and to the bearing  structures of the main nave  and vaults’ walls. Rendered unusable  on account of the tremors, it was  one of the sacred building  in the worst serious damages  and this was its aspect in September 2012 when the AIAS members  had the possibility to see the situation. On the eve of the 4th  earthquake’s adniversary  , from May 19th in Bondeno have started the works for the  reconstruction of the church  and of  some service buildings. The church is still nowadays kept in security  by a complex system  of scaffolds and reinforcements  while waiting  for the conclusion  of the reconstructions works. But for the Bondeno habitants  it is the symbol  of going on  and of a life  which cannot  give up  its social union rites.  Since the year of the earthquake , for example,  they  have never renounced  to organize  popular events , first of all, “The Grape’s Holiday” set up  by “The Bondeno Association crowd”.  

So, in spite of the delays  in the reconstruction, the Bondeno habitants  obstinately gathered behind  their church , in the city park called “Matilda Court”, duly placed under security  in its restaurant premises , in an holiday  which  overall  offers again  the ancient  rites of country life, made of traditions, of stories, of people, of work and of experiences  tightly  linked  to the land, to its products, to its natural rhythm , to the season . Therefore , it shall not appear strange  to give  once again hospitality to the suiseki of AIAS members , in a big  top tent  intentionally realized , where have found  place   in exhibition  the 74 stones
Together with us, once again Dr. Mr. Thomas Elias   and his wife  Dr.Mrs. Hiromi Nakaoji ,  not only  as honour  guests , but overall  as great friends  of all of us , who let themselves get  involved  from the pleasant athmosphere  of this Convention. But the mutual understanding  should have been  impossible without the precious help of  Mr. Francesco Vernarelli,  who in every moment of the Congress , official and  not, has acted , with great competence,  as interpreter  allowing so a real time conversation. Son of our member Mrs. Laura Monni, we thank him for  his cooperative spirit demonstrated  and we cannot but hope  to have him  among our effective members!

The fair  of the ancient Arts and Crafts
(Archery, the silkworm reeling , the joiner, the blacksmith)
  Mr Elias and  his wife Hiromi at the ancient blacksmith

Our honour guest

Dr. Thomas Elias, as sole judge also last year, keeps  on with his praiseworthy deeds  of the stones  Appreciation Art , both Chinese, Japanese  or  American; together  with his wife   Dr. Hiromi Nakaoji , they are authors of the most important books  on the appreciation of  Asian   stones  and through the VSANA web (Viewing Stone Association of North America) they publish  important articles on the suiseki world. Also this year he has decided  to submit one of his lecture on suiseki in Japan  and has not missed  to comment every stone in exhibition.

The preparations...   … with much reliability…   ... until the opening ceremony

The opening ceremony  has taken place with the attendance  of the President of the Bondeno Association  Crowd Mr.Bosi Vanni, who  we thank for  having given  us hospitality  to “The Grape’s  holidays” and  for offering  the welcome buffet, and  to the  President  of the organizing Gonzaga  Bonsai Club  and to the AIAS member  Mrs. Laura Redini. To her  and to all her  Club  our thanks  for giving hospitality  once again  and for having put in action  a perfect organizing machine,  inclusive  of three wonderful  sunny  days ! A thank also to Mr.  Franco Buzzi,   ubiquitous valid member of the  Gonzaga Bonsai Club.

After  cutting the ribbon, the convention works  have been opened  with my meeting  with  the association members  dedicated to my experience  lived in Japan  in February  when  I have participated  to the third edition  of the “Japan Suiseki Exhibition“  as member of the Nippon Suiseki Association. It has been my first  experience  in an AIAS Congress as a “lecturer” and so I was deeply moved  and however thankful to those who have given me reliance  and  listen  with interest.
Condition of  participation , planning, costs, location, exhibition methods, the images of some of stones displayed, the catalogue but overall  the vision of Japanese  on western people  and on their stones : these the main themes of my presentation.


On Saturday afternoon , perhaps the most expected moment, the lecture of Mr .Thomas Elias : ”Japanese Suiseki:  the Art Form”. The subject dealt with, anticipated in our newsletter , resulted in fact extremely interesting: starting from the assumption  that a suiseki  is an art object, “ the concept that stones have to be natural that is unaltered is a modern western concept which is in conflict  with the previous  experience in China and in Japan , where the alterations were  a recognized  and accepted matter”. The researches  of Mr. Elias  have led to the evidence that the alteration  of a stone, in Japan,  is a verified matter  and not kept hidden. Despite the fact that some Japanese suiseki enthusiasts  have never supported  the alteration  of the stones  since the ’60  years  many articles  in the books and publications  explained  how to modify the stones in order  to make  a more artistic  effect : the sandblast, the cleaning , the employment of oil but also the base cutting  and the intaglio  of the higher shape  were all projects made, described  and considered “ alterations “. The request  of interesting  landscape stones has increased  between 1960 and 1970 years  and many of such exemplars  were so well done that even  earnest collectors  and traders  were not able  to recognize   the alterations . So, it is the moment  to do without  the idea  that Japanese  suiseki  are all natural.  Also if for Mr. Thomas Elias  the natural stone is always preferable to a worked stone, he fully appreciates a Japanese stone , because  are its peculiarities that make it pleasant  and interesting , both if altered or natural. In conclusion, he suggests  to the enthusiasts “to concentrate one’s attention on how to appreciate the features of a stone and to learn  the many ways in which a stone  can be  successfully displayed, in the traditional Japanese way  or in more contemporary settings”.

Under the same big tent  where  our stones were displayed,  has been organized the gala dinner, preceded by the most awaited moment….. the awarding.  In addition  to the prestigious Trophy  and to the AIAS category awards  have been granted  the IBS award and the plate of the UBI Patronage,  with respectively the judgement  of IBS instructor  Mr. Ezio Piovanelli and of the delegated UBI instructor Mrs. Luciana Queirolo.  Here are some photos  of prize winners , surely satisfied.

 Mr. Thomas Elias  awards Mr. Ettore Gardini  for his winning stone  of the AIAS Trophy.

  Mrs. Daniela Schifano  withdraws  the award  for Mr. Ninh Huu Hiep for the best multi-stand.   Mr. Paolo Dassetto receives  the award  for the best landscape stone.
Award for the best stone to admire
to Mr. Gianni Luigi Enny.
   Mr. Andrea Terinazzi  withdraws the award  for Mr. Edoardo Rossi for the best  1st prize  in the Object Stones Category   1st prize  in the Biseki-Pattern stone category
to Mr. Lorenzo Sonzini 

Mr. Paolo Dassetto receives,  for the same stone,  also the additional plate award  of UBI  Patronage by Mrs. Luciana Queirolo.    Mrs. Virna  Marchi withdraws  the IBS award, the judge Mr. Ezio Piovanelli                                                                  
  A virtual award, our thanks , to Mr. Francesco Vernarelli  who has been the translator  between us and Mr. Thomas Elias. 

The evening has gone on  among our stones , because in this Congress’ event we have lived a novelty: as part of an holiday  with a large evening program , also our area  remained opened  to the public until 23.00 hours.


On Sunday morning , after my first time….. arrived soon the second one! For the brave  enthusiasts  who after  the gala dinner good time  have had the strength to get up early , I have displayed  my considerations  on the theme “The seasons of the tokonoma”  based  on how to use  in the most suitable way the so many seasonal symbols , animals and plants, that in Japan  are ever since  used  in the most classic display, that in the tokonoma.  Not always they are clear to our eyes,  also because  they were born  not only  from the observations of seasonal cycles  but overall from the poetry  in the Nara and Heian Ages which have also joined them to feelings as sadness, love, nostalgia, old age, meditation. In time , I have set up a small  glossary of animals, plants and of their less plain meanings  which can become  a useful  base  to prepare  our fitting at an exhibition.

Early in the afternoon , the members’ Assembly  has brought  to the attention  of the Board  some applications  of the members.  Among the most innovative requests, the one  to proceed  to a “slimming”  of the awards, in witness of an overall  maturity of members.

Finally, the last very much awaited  moment  of the Convention :  the comment of exhibited  suiseki by the judge Mr. Thomas Elias. His compliments  on the overall quality  of the stones but also  of the tables and of the daiza cannot  but give  us pleasure  and the right  spur  to go on  this way.
Thomas , with the simultaneous translation of Francesco has commented  all stones exhibited , with a particular  attention  to the expository details, such as tables and daiza, and the  overall harmony between  the stone and  its  support.
It was important to get back Thomas Elias as judge, in just a year away, to give continuity to his method of judgment, which it sees as an essential along the stone and its exposure.

In the  2017 year   there will be an important Convention, the one of the Association twentieth anniversary . The appointment is already fixed for the 7th-8th October  in Cesano Maderno (MI), host of the  Associated Club “Do Groane Suiseki School”, sole judge  Mrs. Luciana Queirolo.  Inevitably , life brings us towards  future, to new stones and new projects, but this year has been much significant  to come back  on our first steps and to find ourselves after four years , where life has started  again  with tenacity, materially and morally.          

Mrs. Daniela Schifano

As always I close with a dutiful bow …..  the classic acknowledgement  to the winning stone of the A.I.A.S. Trophy 2016,  which has been granted to the landscape stone of  italian origin  exhibited by Mr. Ettore Gardini.

A.I.A.S. Trophy 2016

"Listeninig to the wind ... Clambering at the top ... The valley of the lake"

Landscape stone

of Mr.  Ettore Gardini

The suiseki who obtained the prizes for Category and UBI and IBS awards were:
"Landscape Stones" Category

1° prize to

Mr. Paolo Dassetto

"Stormy sea"


2°  prize to

Mrs. Daniela Schifano

"A drop in the ocean"


3°  prize to

Mr. Umberto Ziniti

"The pass of the two lovers"


"Shelves" Category

prize to

Mr. Ninh Huu Hiep

"Old moonlight throught the window"


prize to
Mr. Franco Mauri
"I contemplate your mysteries
to live them down here"


prize to

Mr. Felice Colombari

 "At dawn the nightingale's song
accompanies my thoughts"


"Object Stones" Category

prize to

Mr. Edoardo Rossi



prize to
Mr. Gian Luigi Enny
"The bride"


prize to

Mrs. Daniela Schifano



"Biseki, Pattern Stones, Color Stones" Category

prize to
Mr. Lorenzo Sonzini

"The Dolomites"

Veneto - Piave River

prize to
Mr. Igor Carino

"Madame Butterfly"


prize to
Mr. Santo Buratto

"Autumn emotions"


"Stones to admire" Category

prize to

Mr. Gian Luigi Enny
Without name

Emilia Romagna

prize to

Mr. Amedeo Ducoli

Without name

 prize to
Mr. Pietro Prudentino
"Gothic spirit"
"I.B.S. Plaque" Award
Judge : I.B.S. Istructor Mr. Ezio Piovanelli

 Mrs. Virna Marchi

"Landscape Stones" Category

"Eternal union"


"U.B.I. Plaque" Award
Judge : U.B.I. Istructor Mrs. Luciana Queirolo

Mr. Paolo Dassetto

"Landscape Stones" Category

"Stormy sea"