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Facts of Japan - Ikebana

Updated on May 5, 2011

This is another of Japan’s premier art using flowers. The term Ikeru means Life or Birth. Hana means Flower. Therefore Ikebana literally translates to Giving Life to Flowers. In other words it is an art of arranging flowers. Though it sounds like arranging flowers in order, Ikebana is quite complex in nature. It has all human and spiritual implications as well.

Ikebana first came to Japan when Buddhism was introduced. During the sixth century flowers were offered to Buddha in the altar and from that Ikebana gained its importance and developed successfully after that. In fact, during the 15th century Ikebana was a simple arrangement of flowers only It was a construction flowers, simple branches and stems only. Slowly it changed its style and an art form developed based on flower arrangement and based on that many exhibitions were held at that time.

The styles of Ikebana improved over time and each style has its distinctive quality as well. The Rikka style was supposed to be the first known style. It was also called as Standing Style, which was based on Buddhist way of expressive nature. It had seven branches to hills, valleys, waterfalls etc.

After this another style was introduced. It was called as Chabana Style. This style stressed on the rustic simplicity of flower arrangement.

Styles improved further and Nageire was introduced. It was basically a design based on non-structuring. This led to a style called Seika. Nageire is a structure based on a tightest bundle of stems which actually form a triangular and symmetrical arrangement that belongs to a classic category.

But Seika style truly consisted three branches. They are called Ten (which is heaven), Chi (which is earth) and Jin (which is human). Here simplicity expresses the unique quality of the plant.

Jiyuka is another style and it is a free design. Any material can be used to develop this style.

During the 20th century, the three main schools of thought called as Ikonobo, Sogetsu and Ohara, gave way to the modernization partially and a free style evolved in Japan.

Moribana is supposed to be the basic style. It means piled up flowers which are arranged in suiban or shallow vase, basket or compote. It is secured on something called Kenzan or the needlepoint holders. It is basically known as Upright Style.

Moribana slanting style is kind of reversal style. Careful attention is being paid to those branches which look beautiful when reversed.

Nageira has three styles again. The upright style consists of branches arranged in a tall container with narrow-mouth. No kenzan or needle point holders are used in this style.

The Slanting Style has flexibility. It is usually gentle and is the right one for the beginners.

The Cascading style arrangements are made so that the main stem hangs lower than the rim used as the vase. Some flexible materials are used to create interesting lines that balances the flowers.

There are still other styles developing in Ikebana. But the basic style is always the same. In a broad sense, Ikebana does not concentrate of arrangement of multi colored flowers. It rather explores the stems, flowers and branches together and tries to create harmony and balance. The form, shape and line are three important factors that Ikebana focuses. It surely has certain rules governing all the basic aspects.

The idea is based on a Scalene Triangle expressed by three main points that symbolically represents Man, Earth and Heaven. Or it can also be Moon, earth and Sun.

Spiritually it emphasizes on silence which is an important aspect wherein nature is appreciated in its entirety. This is to consolidate one tolerance of differences and makes him quiet and patient.


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