Friday, July 10, 2009

[ikebana] the art of floral arrangement

Ikenobo Moribana [freer] arrangement

People have long appreciated beautiful flowers and arranged them in vases. However, in Japan, the way of arranging flowers and plants has been carefully systematised and this is called ‘Kado’.

In the Kamakura period (1192-1333), the Samurai (elite warrior class) wrested the power of government from the aristocrats and brought great lifestyle and fashion changes into the whole of Japanese society.

At this time it became fashionable to create a Tokonoma, a small sacred alcove, in a zashiki (Japanese room). The Tokonoma would contain a flower arrangement, incense and a candle. It is because the space is an alcove, that traditional styles of Ikebana are designed to be viewed only from the front.


Ikebana, the art of floral arrangement, is simple in the basic materials and tools it requires. All you need is a shallow wide-mouthed container and some metal frogs. A metal frog is a holder with spiked needles into which you stick stems and twigs. In a shallow vase, add a little water and put in the metal frog and the container is ready to take in any flower arrangement.

The upright is the most basic structure and this arrangement looks good in shallow pots. The slanting, which is an ideal composition for beginners looks beautiful in tall containers like bamboo or pitchers. Again, in ikebana, the lines described by the elements are considered more attractive than the form and colour.

A branch or a twig in a gentle flowing line is preferred or considered more aesthetic than a group of flowers in full blossom. The arrangement is necessarily asymmetrical and the empty spaces that the arrangements circumscribe are equally important as those the materials encompass.

Basically, there are three triangular spatial groups - the higher level is upright central, the intermediate level which is slanting, and the lower level which is inverted, around which the materials are arranged. Thus the above-mentioned three levels signify heaven, earth and mankind!

Ikenobo is a school of Ikebana. It is the oldest school of Ikebana in Japan, having been founded in the 15th century by the Buddhist monk Ikenobo Senno. The school, currently headed by its 45th generation headmaster, Ikenobo Sen'ei, is based in the Rokkakudo Temple in Kyoto.

8 comments:

UBERMOUTH said...

Some of the most beautiful arrangements I've seen have been Ikebana.I'll show you my favourite on my blog later.

This is definitely something I'd like to take a class in~one day~

CherryPie said...

So simple and elegant.

William Gruff said...

I've always been a lover of things Japanese.

Were my circumstances different I'd practice kyudo.

His Girl Friday said...

Well, the words beautiful, simple and elegant have been taken, so I'll add graceful

James Higham said...

Tis nice, isn't it?

His Girl Friday said...

Yes, very nice. I can't imagine the time spent on the setting about of it, though. It just doesn't compute for my world at the moment. (my children are lucky if they get fed! ;D)

So Japanese said...

Its fascinating how a simple and minimal arrangement like that can be so beautiful and elegant, which is the very essence of Japanese interior design.

James Higham said...

It might also be the essence of how we can live in these new times.