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Ikebana:The Beautiful Art of Flower Arranging

Updated on October 11, 2013

History of Ikebana

The beautiful asymmetrical form of flower arranging, Ikebana or natural flower arranging, was brought to Japan by Buddhist priests. With the practice of Ikebana, the Japanese people have developed a form of art that inspires the Japanese people and people around the world. It began when Buddhist priests made arrangements as an offering to Buddha. The standing arrangements were to incorporate nature: waterfalls, mountains, valleys and other natural formations. This arrangement may remind you of the long silk paintings that depict the earth, mountains, and clouds.

For years only the noble classes would study this type of flower arranging. Later as more and more people became interested in Ikebana some changes were made. These changes lead to new schools or styles of arrangements.

In the 1500s, a priest lived by a lake and he became known throughout the country for his beautiful Ikebana. He would teach all that wanted to learn. Many Japanese began to try their hand at it.

Types of Ikebana

  • Rikka arrangements have standing flowers, but arranged with the flowers and branches extending at different angles. If making a strict, historical version of Ikebana, plants and stems must be at precise angles. There are guidelines that must be followed for this type of arrangement. Not all the components can be the same lengths. This arrangement will be reminiscent of a natural environment.
  • Shushi are three branched arrangements.
  • Shoka is for living flowers. This type of Ikebana was develop by the merchant class.
  • Some of the traditional types of Ikebana are used in the Japanese Tea Ceremony,

A More Modern Ikebana

In the 19th century, more modern styles of Ikebana became popular, and in the 20th century, following the new artistic styles in art, the freestyle type of Ikebana was born. Later in the 1930’s when Ikebana schools opened the common man became more interested in this type of flower arranging. U.S. servicemens’ wives stationed in Japan were fascinated by the arrangements, took lessons, and took the art of Ikebana carried home with them.

  • There is freestyle Ikebana which may contain natural elements, but not necessarily flowers. The components are not arranged as strictly as the others. The arranger can make this style his own and make the arrangement more a statement of his artistic style. Various colors and textures make the arrangement unique as the artist works the flowers into the desired arrangement.

In Japan, Ikebana is considered spiritual. Silence is usually observed when making the arrangement. The arrangements appear simple, but elegant.

Many homes and businesses in Japan display beautiful arrangements. There are now many schools throughout Japan that teach this form of flower arranging.

  • Many of the arrangements sit in small, shallow bowls. Unlike Western flower arrangements, Ikebana may look sparse, but when studied closer the arrangements have a beauty and depth all their own.
  • When assembling an arrangement, the total effect should be considered and studied from front to back.
  • Many arrangements are made with a center flower or branch and then the arrangement is developed from there. It is truly an art form and once an arrangement is in your home the piece will be an art form in itself.

To make an arrangement of your own, you will need a

  • Low dish or a tall narrow vase.
  • A frog for holding the flower or natural material you are using. This is used instead of a flower form.
  • Scissors

Marbles or stones are often used to hide the frog and the preferred flowers are flowers from Japan. Flowers may be the willow, chrysanthemum, or peony to name a few.

  • Flowers represent different phases of life. Full blooms represent the past while buds represent the future.
  • The texture and color should work in harmony. Most leaves are pruned away from the arrangement in order for the main elements to become more dominate.

There are patterns for arrangements to help the beginner with structure and design.

If you are looking for a creative outlet and have admired Ikebana in the past, take a class or try it on your own. It may be a great way to relieve stress

Do you like the visual appeal of Ikebana

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