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  1. Japanese flower arrangement.


  • The Oxford Paperback Dictionary fourth edition. ISBN 0-19-280012-4



  1. flower arrangement

Extensive Definition

is the Japanese art of flower arrangement, also known as .
In contrast to the massing of blooms typical of flower arrangement in western countries, Japanese flower arrangement is based on the line of twigs and/or leaves, filled in with a small number of blooms. The container is also a key element of the composition. The structure of a Japanese flower arrangement is based on a scalene triangle delineated by three main points, usually twigs, considered in some schools to symbolize heaven, earth, and man and in others sun, moon and earth.
Ikebana, one of the traditional arts of Japan, has been practiced for more than 600 years. It developed from the Buddhist ritual of offering flowers to the spirits of the dead. By the middle of the fifteenth century, with the emergence of the first classical styles, Ikebana achieved the status of an art form independent of its religious origins, though it continued to retain strong symbolic and philosophical overtones. The first teachers and students were priests and members of the nobility. However, as time passed, many different schools arose, styles changed, and Ikebana came to be practiced at all levels of Japanese society.
According to Mandarax, the most beautiful flower arrangements have one, two, or at the most three, elements. In arrangements of three elements, all three might be the same, or two of the three might be the same, but all three should never be different. Ikebana is said to be as easily codified as the practice of modern medicine.

Origin of Ikebana schools: Ikenobo

The history of Ikebana starts with the History of Ikenobo--the oldest school of Ikebana. The school dates its beginnings from a priest of the Rokkakudo Temple (六角堂)--official name is Shiun-ji (Purple Cloud Temple "紫雲寺") in Kyoto who was so skilled in flower arrangement that other priests sought him out for instruction. As he lived by the side of a lake, for which the Japanese word is Ikenobo "池坊", the name Ikenobo became attached to the priests there who specialized in these altar arrangements.
The Rokkakudo temple was erected in 587 by Prince Shotoku (聖徳太子). It is said that Prince Shotoku was in search for materials to build the Shitenno Temple (四天王寺). During his search, one day he went to bath in a pond where he hung a Buddha amulet over a tree near by. As he was trying to remove the amulet, he was unable to do so. At the same night, the Prince saw a Buddha in his dream. The Buddha instructed him to erect a temple near the pond at the cedar tree under a purple cloud. From that cedar wood Rokkakudo temple was built to reside a Kannon (Quan-Yin) Goddess statue.

Evolution of styles

Patterns and styles evolved so that by the late 15th century, arrangements were common enough that they were appreciated by ordinary people, not just the imperial family and its retainers. Thus began the development of an art form with fixed requirements. Texts were written, the oldest being Sendensho, a compilation covering the years from 1443 to 1536.
It has been known that flowers were used to please gods, goddesses and humans for ages. The use of flowers as offerings had long been used through histories. However, in Japan the use of flowers as offerings for gods may have influenced how flowers were arranged in the beginning. Although Rikka has the most complicated, strict forms and patterns, Ikebana in the beginning was very simple, constructed only a very few stems of flowers and evergreen branches. This first form of Ikebana is called Kuge "供華".
With knowledge of flowers arranging learnt from China, Senno (Prince Shotoku) started to arrange flowers in a form that resembles a landscape where tall trees were higher than grassy flowers. The flowers arranged in this manner soon started to appear more rigid, governed by certain rules. One of the rules is that "trees are arranged tall; flowers are inserted at the base of the arrangement". This form has been known as "Tatebana" (立て花). The word tatebana, literally "standing flowers", is the precursor of Rikka(立花).
As time passed, Ikebana became a major part of traditional festivals, and Ikebana exhibitions were held periodically, most of them were still Rikka. However, by the time of Sen-no-Rikyu, the tea master, the new style started to emerge. Flowers were now arranged in more relaxed manners, with less stems and delicate composition. This was the first time for the form "Nageire-bana" (投げ入れ花). The Nageire style here simply refers to flowers arranged in a cylinder or narrow-mouthed vase. The word Negeire itself means "thrown-in".
With the simplicity of nageire-bana, new forms of Ikebana emerged. Rules were prescribed, and materials were combined in specific ways. In these early forms, a tall upright central stem had to be accompanied by two shorter stems; the three stems represented heaven, man, and earth. In many schools, the tallest stem represents Heaven; the mid-level stem, Man; and the lower level stem, Earth. However, according to Ikenobo, the length of the stems does not signify this interpretation. According to its teaching, since Man lives between the Heaven and the Earth; the stem in the middle of the arrangement, which is normally the tallest, represents Man. The Heaven is represented by stem in the mid-level; the Earth, the lower level. The specific Japanese names for these differed among Ikebana schools. The name of the style is normally called "Seika" by most schools, but "Shoka" by Ikenobo.
In 1545, the Ikenobo School, now well established, formulated the principles of rikka arrangements by naming the seven principal branches ("役枝" Yaku-eda) used in that type of arrangement. By Meiji era, two additional principal branches were added and established. Now Rikka started to be constructed with techniques and tools that require years of practices before one was allowed to attempt it. Notice that this time the Japanese character for Rikka had become more complicated to reflect this change. (立花~立華). During the Momoyama period in Japan, 1560-1600, many magnificent castles were constructed. During the same period, noblemen and royal retainers were doing large decorative rikka floral pieces.


See also


Adachi Soami Yamamura

Oldest International Organisation

Ikebana International was 50 years old in 2006
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