Ikebana: The Japanese Art of Flower Arrangement

At our April, 2019 meeting our own club member Nancy Ellison shared her knowledge and experience with the Japanese art of flower arrangement known as ikebana. Here is some of what we learned:

Ikebana, meaning to arrange flowers or giving life to flowers, dates back as far as the 7th century. It reached its zenith in the 16th century under the influence of Buddhist tea masters. There are at least 1000 schools in Japan and abroad. Each can differ greatly in technique and complexity.

More than simply putting flowers in a container, ikebana is a disciplined art form in which nature and humanity are brought together. Where typical flower arrangements often use multicolored arrangements of blossoms, ikebana often emphasizes other areas of the plant, such as its stems and leaves, and puts emphasis on shape, line, and form. While ikebana is an expression of creation, certain rules govern its form. The artist’s intention behind each arrangement is shown through a piece’s color combination, natural shapes, graceful lines, and the implied meaning of the arrangement.

It is truly a language of flowers. Arrangements are meant to convey emotion and communicate directly with the recipient without needing the use of words. Ikebana masters find there is no occasion which cannot be suggested by the color and manner in which the flowers are arranged.

True practitioners of ikebana find its spiritual aspect to be very important. It is believed that one becomes more patient and tolerant of differences and can inspire one to identify with beauty in all art forms. This is also a time when one feels close to nature, which provides relaxation for the mind, body, and soul.