Żródło: trengarasu via Foter.com / CC BY-SA

Hello! Spring is coming, the time of year that reminds me most of all … the flowers. In today’s post I decided to take care of them, or rather the art of arranging them, which is ikebana. If you are interested in this theater and you want to learn more, I invite you to read today’s entry.

Ikebana, also known as kadō, is a traditional Japanese art of arranging not only flowers but also stems, leaves and branches, which in combination create a harmonious, linear structure, consistent with the aesthetics of Japan. An important element is also the same dish, which presents the arranged flower compositions (the best are long and narrow vases). There are also special supports, which hold the flowers in the right way, and kenzan – tiles, equipped with spikes that facilitate work and make it easier to inflate shoots forming the composition.
The origins of ikebana date back to the flower sacrifices offered in the Chinese Buddhist temples of the sixth century, called kyōka. However, the ikebana itself started to be associated with art only later, during the Muromachi-Ashikaga period (1336-1573). It was a time for the development of traditional Japanese arts – not only ikebana, but also the architectural shoin-zukuri style, tea ceremony or theater.
Over the centuries, many styles and schools of flower arranging have developed. The rikka style (“standing flowers”) is considered to be the oldest. The author of this style is a monk from the temple of Rokkaku-dō (in Kyoto) – Senkei Ikenobō. It was the art of arranging flowers that would reflect the magnificence and beauty of nature (hence the use of such plants as pine, cypress and cedar). A popular version of this composition is a combination of chrysanthemum, cypress and bamboo, which is often arranged in Japan on the occasion of the New Year.
Ikebana, styl rikka Źródło: zigazou76 via Foter.com / CC BY

Ikebana, rikka style
Source: zigazou76 via Foter.com / CC BY

Another variation of ikebana is shoka (or seika) style. It was founded around the 2nd half of the 15th century. The author was Yoshimasa. In this composition all vertices form a triangle. The most commonly used plants are aspidistry, lilies and roses. Often shoka is created from a single flower.The most prominent ikeban author in this style is undoubtedly Saigetsu Yamanoto, who runs the school of ikebana – kofu.
Ikebana, styl shokaseika Źródło: M. Martin Vicente via Foter.com / CC BY

Ikebana, shoka/seika style
Source: M. Martin Vicente via Foter.com / CC BY

In the fifteenth century, the nageire style (“thrown flowers”) was also created. Another accepted name is “cha-bana”, which means “tea flowers”. This is related to the fact that floral compositions in this style were used during the tea ceremony. This style is characterized by the free arrangement of flowers in vases, which are directed in three different directions
Tworzenie ikebany w stylu nageire Źródło: :: shodan :: via Foter.com / CC BY

Creating a nikeire style ikebana
Source: :: shodan :: via Foter.com / CC BY

In 1890 another variation of ikebana developed – the style of moribana (“piled up flowers”). It consists of four varieties: vertical (vertical composition, consisting mainly of gladioli), sloping (mainly with the use of chrysanthemums), cascade and compositions that are supposed to resemble a tiny lake landscape.
Ikebana, styl moribana Źródło: MissMax via Foter.com / CC BY

Ikebana, moribana style
Source: MissMax via Foter.com / CC BY

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Other features are characterized by the heika style. Kenzans are not used here, all elements of the composition are simply placed in a tall vase. Also in this case there are four varieties of style. The first one uses only chrysanthemums and has a vertical character. The second one, with slanted forward composition, is created using mainly astrys.  The next, slanting back, uses lilies, callas, roses, peonies, tulips and chrysanthemums. The last one is characterized by a cascade of yellow and white acacia flowers

Ikebana, styl heika Źródło: Tim Buss via Foter.com / CC BY

Ikebana, heika style
Source: Tim Buss via Foter.com / CC BY

All flower arranging styles mentioned above belong to the group of so-called classic styles. However, there is also a modern ikebana, which developed after 1930, and which is characterized by a more expressive style. The most famous modern styles of ikebana include, for example, jiyubana. They are subjective copies of systems found in nature. Tools can be anything from cones, bird feathers, through glass, plastic to flowers. Another style is morimono – a low composition often placed in a wicker or wicker basket, mainly using chrysanthemums and georgina. Fruit is also used in it. The third contemporary style is kakebana. It uses mainly low vessels, plates or hanging dishes, on which autumn leaves, twigs of fruit trees and climbing plants are arranged. The unique styles of ikebana are, however, zeneika and jiyuka. They are the only ones designed to be viewed from all sides. They are also characterized by the freedom of combining motifs and materials. It is worth mentioning that the zeneika style is often called avant-garde style. The last contemporary style is a gigant. As the name suggests, these are huge compositions of leaves and branches. In 1958, Sofu Teshigahara from the Sogetsu school created the greatest compositions in this style, which reached 25 metres in height.

Jiyuka Źródło: PHOTO/arts Magazine via Foter.com / CC BY

Source: PHOTO/arts Magazine via Foter.com / CC BY

This is the end when it comes to information on ikebana. How do you like this traditional Japanese art? Or maybe you are trying your strength in this area yourself? I invite you to comment
P.S. Goodbye adds a link to the English movie showing how to arrange an example composition. Enjoy!


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Agnieszka Gach


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