Saturday, June 5, 2010

Ikebana: The Art of Japanese Flower Arranging

In ancient times. Ikebana was controlled by priests of the major temples and practiced by royalty and samurai warriors to add spiritual balance to their lives. Monks offering flowers to the Buddha brought Ikebana, the art of flower arrangement, to Japan in the sixth century. Previously secret and unavailable to the populace, this art has been made available to people in all walks of life.

Today, Ikebana is one of the most well known of Japan's traditional arts. It is Zen-like--a hands-on practice creating a living sculpture. Ikebana has emerged from the traditional setting of the tokonoma, an alcove in a Japanese house, to include harmoniously designed arrangements that fit virtually any environment. This added dimension to the use and meaning of Ikebana has in no way altered those fundamentals of structure, space and naturalism, which have been developed and perfected over the centuries.

There are many schools of Ikebana, each with its own fundamentals. In basic form, an Ikebana arrangement follows a fixed pattern: an irregular triangle of three points representing Heaven, Man and Earth . Emphasis is placed on linear perfection, color, harmony, space and form.

Just as paintings are artistic expressions brushed on canvas, Ikebana is a three-dimensional artistic expression composed of flowers and plant materials. It is up to the aesthetic awareness of the Ikebana practitioner to assemble the materials, choose their most beautiful aspects, order them and endow them with a value transcending that which they had in nature.