Yemeni Boy Masters Art of Rock Balancing

National Yemen

Balancing stones is a new art

By Tamjid Alkohali

Salah Mohammed Baithan, 18 years old, from Shabwah, has a rare talent called rock balancing, an art in which rocks are balanced on top of one another in various positions, which only a few people around the world have mastered.

Baithan, the youngest in his family, like most Yemenis, didn’t know about rock balancing. As a child, he was able to make the things such as chairs, cups, and boxes stand on their edges.

However, after he watched a balance artist doing this art and making amazing forms with rocks on the TV, he felt that he could do the same.

“That was six months ago. When I watched that balance artist on the TV, I didn’t ask myself how he could make the rock stand on the top of one another, but I wanted to do the same and I succeeded the first time.” Said Baithan.

He began balancing three or four small rocks. He spent hours to make simple forms. Now, he is able to make complex forms with very big rocks in a short time.

“In the beginning, when people saw what I could do with rocks, they were surprised. Most of them, if not all, thought that I was a magician. However, after I explained for them that it’s just a talent from God, they believed me and asked me to open a school to teach balancing,” he said.

Baithan feels victorious every time he performs a balancing of rocks. According to him, when the weather is calm he makes forms quickly, but if there is wind it takes a long time, sometimes hours.

“To master this art you should have some important qualities, considered the secret of this art. They are patience, calmness, focus, and confidence, especially knowing that each attempt may not succeed the first time,” he explained.

Baithan added that artists need to have some knowledge about the weight of the rocks, the balance point of rocks, and the center of gravity. It is also important to choose suitable rocks that match the weight of the rock above.

“Using soft rocks with sort rocks is easier than using soft with rough rocks. However, any rocks can balance. The difficult isn’t with rocks it’s with the ability to control your focus.”

Because of his belief in his ability, Baithan develops his art every day. He also believes that every person has powers to discover.

Baithan wishes that his art becomes famous like painting, sculpture, and other kinds of arts. Now, he is preparing to a documentary film called Deceive The Attractiveness in Ibb.

Baithan confirmed that he hasn’t received any encouragement or support from any official party. However, he is optimistic to reach the world and be the best in this art.

Rock balancing is an art that appeared almost 10 years ago and has attracted many prominent artists around the world. The most famous are Bill Dan, Andy Goldsworthy, Dave Gorman, Adrian Gray, and Michael Grab.

Michael Grab, from Canada, mastered the art of stone balancing in 2008. He explained how he balances rocks in unusual forms.

“The most fundamental element of balancing in a physical sense is finding some kind of “tripod” for the rock to stand on. Every rock is covered in a variety of tiny to large indentations that can act as a tripod for the rock to stand upright, or in most orientations you can think of with other rocks. By paying close attention to the feeling of the rocks, you will start to feel even the smallest clicks as the notches of the rocks in contact are moving over one another. In the finer point balances, these clicks can be felt on a scale smaller than millimeters. Some point balances will give the illusion of weightlessness as the rocks look to be barely touching. Parallel to the physical element of finding tripods, the most fundamental non-physical element is harder to explain through words. In a nutshell, I am referring to meditation, or finding a zero point or silence within yourself. Some balances can apply significant pressure on your mind and your patience. The challenge is overcoming any doubt that may arise.”