As someone who studies the impact of Zen on our modern society, I am always amazed when I see an object or practice that influences many different cultures. Until recently, I suspected that the rock cairn was something invented by ancient Zen practitioners, but it seems to be a trend that circled the globe.
There’s something about the simple art of placing stone on top of stone in a natural setting that must have resonated across explorers from many parts of the world. Long before we had ways of sharing ideas with one another, the common rock cairn was found on mountaintops, near waterways and even in barren desert and tundra areas. While they may vary in size and shape, from small piles of river rocks to elaborately balanced sculptures, these conical rock piles have an iconic look that recalls our ancient tribal roots.
As a collector of Zen garden accessories, I once believed my rock cairn fountain was a replica of an early Zen sculpture. Little did I know that I would find one of these in the middle of a creek along an Adirondack trail, but I saw several of them in Lake Placid last weekend.
What is the significance of a rock cairn?
While the word “cairn” comes from the Scottish Gaelic word “càrn” (plural cairn) these rock piles can be found almost anywhere. Often erected as landmarks or to mark mountain trails, the earliest cairns were built as sepulchral monuments and used for astronomical or ceremonial purposes. Modern cairns in North America and Europe are a little bit less “glamorous,” and more familiar to mountain bikers and hikers. In fact, the Norwegian Trekking Association uses painted rock cairns extensively to help hikers mark out a route. When placed at regular intervals, cairns can be used to help travelers navigate a path across barren or rocky terrain, even across glaciers. Avid hikers are known to add a stone to the cairn as they pass.
Not surprisingly, the rock cairn can also inspire calmness and meditation, particularly when it is paired with a water fountain. This rock cairn water fountain creates the perfect balance of tranquility and thought. Soothing sounds of cascading water make this dramatic fountain perfect for creating that meditative space in your home.
The natural rock base is carved and sealed to hold water and has a built in water pump. The five rocks are supported by a metal rod and can be arranged to your liking. As no two rocks are identical, you can create your own unique water fountain. The fountain measures approximately 12″ in height, 10 in diameter and wide and 9″ in depth. It weighs approximately, 28-30 lbs.