In the world of flowers arrangement arts, Ikebana is one of the popular schools. It’s not simply arranging flowers on a vase, but Japanese people have included the human and nature representing in the arrangement. Let’s learn how Ikebana is different with Western art of flower arrangements.
The Differences of Ikebana
In etymology, ikebana is a combination of two Japanese words, “ikeru” (means arrange flowers, keep alive, living) and “hana” (means flowers). So literally, Ikebana could possibly means flowers keep alive or giving life to flowers.
The flower arrangement in Western is arranging flowers in a vase symmetrically, while Ikebana is asymmetrical and more complex. Flowers, leaves, and stems are arranged beautifully to present the creative expression within certain rules of construction. The approach is focused on creating harmony within the flowering plants, container, and setting. The aesthetic value of Ikebana isn’t simply used as decorations but has a deep meaning as communication with nature.
The History of Ikebana
Ikebana is one of the oldest Japanese traditional arts. The history records traced that Ikebana was began when Buddhism introduced for the first time to Japanese in the 6th century. Offering flowers in altar was the worship way to give honor to Buddha. Then, in the 10th century, Japanese especially priest of the temple changed the way offering flowers in containers.
In the middle of 15th century, the oldest school of Ikebana was begun. There was a priest from Rukkakudo Temple in Kyoto who very expert in arranging flowers. He started to give instructions about flower arrangements when other priests asked. The word “Ikenobo” then started to attach for them, “ike” means “live in the side of lake,” “bo” means priests, and “no” is a possessive particle to join the word. So, ikenobo means priest of the lake.
The Styles of Ikebana
As the time passed, the styles of Ikebana changed as other schools emerged which become the custom of Japanese society. In Japanese Ministry of Education, there are more than 2,000 of different ikebana schools registered. However, there are three most popular schools until this present time including:
1. Ikenobo Schools
Ikenobo is the oldest school of ikebana. The styles of Ikenobo include three styles:
Rikka means standing flowers was the expression of Buddhist to the beauty of nature. It was the basis of ikebana. Rather than simply put flowers in a vase, the style was focused on putting more thoughts on the process of arranging flowers. The style contained with 7 branches which represent 7 elements in nature including ryou (a peak), gaku (a hill), rou (a waterfall), shi (a town by the water), bi (a valley), you (the sunlit side of the scene), and in (the shaddy side of the scene).
• Shouka (Shikka)
This style consists of 3 main branches including ten (heaven), chi (earth), and jin (human). The arrangement is very simple because it is designed to show the plant’s beauty and uniqueness.
• Shouka Shimputai
This style is a new style of shouka which developed in 1977 by 45th generation of headmaster Ikenobō Sen’ei. The floral arrangements tried to present the bright and modern feeling.
2. Ohara Schools
The sense of modernism revolutionized the discipline of Ikebana in the 20th century. Moribana means “piled-up flowers” was first introduced by Mr. Unshin Ohara. He was an Ikenobo professor in Kobe. He used a low bowl to arrange some shorter western flowers which brought to Japan since in the beginning of Meiji era. When he asked to include this new style of Ikebana in the curriculum of Ikenobo school, they refused it. Then, he got permission to teach it in his own school, Ohara School. Surprisingly, when he opened an exhibition in Kobe, he got a great welcome. Since 1965, moribana styles became more popular and even incorporated in most of Ikebana school’s curriculum.
3. Sogetsu School
Sofu Teshigahara was a founder of Sogetsu School which established in 1926. The traditional approach of ikebana was focused on the construction forms, while Teshigahara recognized that Ikebana is the result of creative art. So, ikebana wasn’t difficult and everybody has the ability to create one rather than exclusively enjoyed by limited number of people. The style of Teshigahara’s ikebana could be called as free styles ikebana. It gained so much interest with its free and colorful arrangements.
In this present time, Ikebana still becomes the attractiveness of Japanese culture. Not only Japanese people, but foreigners also start to put lots of interest on arranging flowers with Japanese feelings.