Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Japanese Floral Arranging: Ikebana

While roaming the blogosphere last month, I came across the Japanese art of Ikebana on FTD.  It's a very strict and lovely form of flower arranging, and the pieces look different from anything I've seen before.  Ikebana literally translates to "giving life to flowers" or "arranging flowers", but artists use more natural pieces than just flowers to bring in movement, lines, and shape to the piece.  Arrangements often include branches to add height and leaves to add lines among the flowers.  The results are unique, emotive, and stunning creations.

The beautiful art form of Japanese ikebana flower arranging
photo by Manuel via Flickr
Though many ikebana pieces look wild and free, there are serious rules and principles involved, and the art form of ikebana actually heavily depends on discipline, similar to bonsai.  As FTD explains, "Ikebana is seen as more than just decorative, it is a spiritual process that helps one develop a closeness with nature and merge the indoors and outdoors."

Ikebana pieces are created in silence, which encourages patience and meditation as the artist considers what they're making and how it should be designed.  The silence also encourages acceptance and appreciation of the chosen floral elements and of their beauty and imperfections.

The practice of Ikebana began around the second half of the 15th century, and it has developed into many different schools, philosophies, and styles in the last 500 years, including the recent evolution of free style.  All the styles look different and involved different formations or rules.  If you're interested in getting an overview of the more notable schools of ikebana, I recommend checking out this section of the Wikipedia article, and for different styles, check out the right sidebar of Ikebana International.

When arranging the piece, artists focus on lines, shape, and form as they adhere to the higher principles of minimalism and the natural way of nature.  Each arrangement has three distinct elements used to represent heaven at the highest point of the arrangement (called shin), man in the middle (soe), and earth at the bottom (hikae).  Other flowers or elements not part of those three are called jushi.  The container is also important, of course, but not as much as a focal point as the organics being used.

Principles of ikebana flower arranging
Principles of Ikebana via FTD

I'd love to have the chance to create something like this!  The arrangements are so elegant and peaceful.  They're such an interesting combination of simplicity and complexity.  If you want to get your hands dirty, too, this post from MakeZine shares some great information about ikebana 101, along with some practical tips for starting some of your own arrangements. 

For additional reading:
Here are some ikebana gallery pictures from Keith Stanley. 
Check out the Nordic Lotus Ikebana Blog for lots of photos and info.
I've also pinned a lot of ikebana pictures to my Flora Pinterest board.
I'd love to have a huge coffee table book of Ikebana photos like this one called Whispering Flowers.


Are there any particular styles of flower arranging that you gravitate to?  Would you have an ikebana arrangement in your house?  Do you think you'd ever take an ikebana class?  I totally would.

1 comment:

  1. It's such a beautiful art. I remember seeing the similar arrangements in some cafes I went to, but never realized how they could be a part of such an art. AMAZING! I have some money-plants at home and I might try it on them. They wouldn't turn out super nicely, but I so wanna feel the peace in doing so!

    Noor | Noor's Place


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