Ikebana: combining art, philosophy and style

Ikebana is the unique Japanese art of arranging flowers.  It is a very disciplined art form that brings together humanity and nature.  It runs completely counter to the concept of a flower arrangement as being just a collection of multicolored blooms and actually puts more focus on stems and leaves.  The art of ikebana emphasizes creative expression, but does have general rules or guidelines.  The intention is found by examining the natural shapes, graceful lines, and color combinations of the arrangements. Minimalism is a central theme in ikebana.  This is often seen by arrangements that only have a few blooms interspersed with interesting leaves and stalks.   The arrangement is usually structured around the shape of a scalene triangle.  The three main points are meant to symbolize different things by different art schools.  Usually the points mean man, heaven, and earth, but sometimes, they can mean moon, sun, and earth.  The key element of the entire composition is the container of the flower arrangement.  Various pottery materials and styles are used to create these containers. (More photos here) 

The upright style of Moribana is the most basic ikebana structure.  This style uses piled up flowers arranged in shallow vases, suibans, baskets, or compotes.  Then, the arrangement is secured onto needlepoint holders, which are also called metal frogs.  The slanting style of Moribana is a reversed style of arrangement.  The branches look beautiful when they are slanted and give a much softer impression to the viewer than is given off from the upright arrangement style.  The upright Nageire style uses tall, narrow-mouthed containers and no potholders to display just one flower.  The slanted style of Nageire is used to convey flexibility and a gentle touch.  This is a good style for beginners to try.  The Nageire cascading style arrangements hang the main stem lower than the vase's rim.  During the twentieth century, the popularity of the modernist movement caused the main Ikebana schools to become overtaken by what is known to the Japanese as free style. (More photos here)

The art of ikebana is very unique to Japanese culture and remains very popular to this day.  It is regularly featured on television shows, taught as part of school curriculums, and generally admired by everyday people.  Seikei Bijin (Artificial Beauty) is one of the most popular programs that features ikebana on Japanese television.  The basic theme of the show is that natural beauty is a very important part of life. With its various schools and styles ikebana continues to be an exciting and unique facet of Japanese culture. (More culture cannot be used)

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