The ancient roots of Japanese flower arranging. Various kinds of japanese flower arranging. Elements in flower arranging.
Japanese flower arranging or ikebana, is rapidly becoming more and more popular all over the world. Flower arranging is an art form, and doesn’t just take the arrangement of flowers into account, but the entire structure, such as vase, placement and form. In the west, we merely place the flowers in a vase, and strive for a balanced look, but Japanese flower arranging is structured along lines that represent the important elements of life: heaven, earth, humans.
These three representational symbols are found in many expressions of Eastern culture and Japanese flower arranging is one of the prettiest forms. Each of the components, such as the stem, the leaf or the flower is viewed as representing a symbol of this holistic view, and the vase also becomes an important component.
Ikebana is an ancient art that probably began in Buddhist temples in Japan in the sixth century as a form of offering. The flowers and branches of a plant would be placed in such a way as to point to the heavens, illustrating the faith of the person making the offering.
Original ikebana flower arrangements were simple and almost crude in their design, but through the centuries the art was improved upon and became more sophisticated. A new form of the art of flower arranging, called rikka, emerged in the fifteenth century and become the precursor of the stylized flower arranging practiced in Japan still today.
“Rikka” seeks to capture the wonders of nature in a single flower arrangement. Flowers are placed in such a way that they represent a mythical mountain called Mount Sumeru that is a symbol of our universe, and each piece in a rikka arrangement is a part of that universe. For example, white chrysanthemums represent water and pine branches represent stone. Although these exact representations are no longer respected, in prior times rikka was used extensively in ceremonial decorating.
In the late nineteenth century, another form of ikebana became popular in Japan and carried over to Western cultures. This is called moribana and in it the garden artist seeks to create a garden world in miniature. Terrariums and bonsai were popular outgrowths of this art form in the west.
Though Japanese flower arranging is very popular in modern society, it has ancient roots that it are important to remember. You may see beautiful Japanese style flower arrangements in both formal decorating schemes as well as casual arrangements in a stylish home.