Ikebana Flower Arrangement

Floral design or flower arrangement is an art of creating a pleasing composition using flowers and plant materials. The right kind of design or style can change any desolate place into the Garden of Eden. Ikebana is a form of traditional Japanese flower arrangement.

In Japan, Ikebana is called kadō which means "the way of flowers". Through these skillful ways of flowers, Japanese have figured out the way of living as well. Like most eastern floral designs, only fresh flowers are used in Ikebana. The arrangements are not just about accentuating elements of floral wealth or beauty, but have a deep-rooted tradition. It's a disciplined art where nature and humanity are put together through creative expressions. It is also taught in schools and on television.



Besides flowers, Ikebana emphasizes other areas of the plant such as stems and leaves. Behind each arrangement one can see the artist's intention through color combinations and shapes. Flowers are usually arranged in a minimalistic manner. The relaxation of mind and soul is a spiritual aspect of Ikebana.

Some flower arrangements are based on a scalene triangle structure which represents three main points of either sun, moon, and earth or heaven, earth, and man. The highest position in the flower arrangement (which is called Shin) represents heaven. The next level for earth is called Soe (3/4th of Shin), and the last rung in the structure known as Hikae (3/4th of Soe) symbolizes man.

In Ikebana flower arrangements, the vase, flowers, leaves, stems and branches are all an indispensable part of the arrangement, having specific meaning and function. Full blown flowers represent the past, half bloom flowers depicts the present, and a flower bud delineates the future. Changing of the seasons also dictate the style. Flowers are put in a metal container in winter, earthen bowls are used in spring and fall, and woven baskets are used in summer.



These exotic arrangements started as offerings at the Buddhist temples in the tenth century, although there have been evidences of Ikebana as early as the sixth century. Ikenobo Buddhist priests were the first students and teachers of this style. Other schools emerged and styles changed in the Japanese society as time passed.


Evolution of Styles

Many styles of Ikebana evolved in the late 15th century into an art form as well as a part of festivals. Sedensho is the oldest book that covers this change in years from 1443 to 1536. The first notable styles were during the Momoyama period (1560–1600) when noblemen used ornate Rikka floral arrangements to decorate for the castles. The simplistic Chabana style was emerged due to the concept of tea ceremonies. Nageire, Shōka, and Jiyūka were other styles introduced later. With the advent of modernism, the Free Style became popular in the 20th century. The style is not limited to flowers and any material can be used. Moribana upright style, which is the most basic structure in Ikebana, and Nageire upright style, which is ideal for beginners, are two examples of the modern style.