Ikebana: the “flowers route” through art, meditation and harmony

Ikebana, the Japanese art of flowers arrangement, has ancient and holy origins: in fact, the first school of this art was born in Japan more than 600 years ago and it re-awakened in a new culture the custom of offering gifts to divinity, which was already related, in other oriental religions, to Buddhism.

It is also the research of harmony through meditation, “beauty” through the representation of the relation among sky, earth and man.

So, it is not just a decoration; it is not a beauty just resulting from shapes and colours; in ikebana, the art of flower arrangement is an instrument of spiritual elevation and research of oneself in the harmony of the universe.

As for the major arts, there are precise and very definite styles which evolved in time and slowly came out from temples to enter the houses of the nobles first, and then in the ones of all the lovers of this art.

The most ancient ikebana style is Rikka, “standing flowers”, which is strictly defined and connected to the Buddhist elements regarding the expression of nature; then there is the Nageire style, “flung flowers”, a less structured style which generated the following Seika style, and in the end the Moribana style, that is “piled-up flowers”.

As with all meditation techniques, there are rules to obey.

Here are some of them:

– Ikebana is the representation of a harmony coming out from a meditative act. Therefore it is fundamental to practise this art in a given place, spacious and not cluttered, and in silence.

– The plant must be respected in its wholeness. Remaining close to fresh flowers, in ikebana it’s important to arrange branches, seeds, leaves, roots: all that the plant can offer, choosing for various elements, different size and shapes.

– Flowers must be very fresh. When the length of the stems in the floral arrangement is decided, it will be necessary to cut them in cold water, if possible: this will let the ikebana to keep longer.

– Harmony will result from a meditated combination of opposite elements: therefore it is fundamental to highlight empty space and full space; strong elements and weak elements.

– In agreement, odd number and asymmetry are important.

– Moreover, in the Seika style, the use of stems or branches of different lengths is fundamental: the lengthiest, called Ten, represents the Sky and is the most important element in the composition; the middle length one represents the Man (Jin) while the shortest represents the third element in harmony with the first two ones, that is the Earth (Chi).

Ikebana is a discipline particularly recommended to those who love a kind of meditation that is not separate from a practical aspect, to those who look for a concentration form which could also be an artistic experience, to those who deeply feel the role of “beauty” in their inner well-being.