Springtime is here again and greens and flowers are all around us. And many of us who don’t have a garden in front of the house, like to bring flowers into the home.
The language of the flowers can hardly better be explained than by IKEBANA, the Japanese art of flower-arrangement. Knowing the Japanese understands that almost nothing is left to chance. The same applies to the traditional arrangement of flowers. What looks so easy and natural took a lot of time and meticulousness. https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ikebana
In short, I have signed up for a master-class of Mrs. Hiroko Pitz-Yana, who lives in Germany and passes on their knowledge from time to time to Ikebana friends.
I learn that Ikebana started with Ikenobo approx. 550 years ago. For the Japanese flowers are not only beautiful, but also a synonymous for the emergence and decay of nature. For example, a flower bud embodies the energy of life and almost exclusively seasonal plants are used. With the new composition in the planter/ bowl, nature gets perfectionized and placed into a new context. Quit often there is no reproduction of the original form, but a new creation of shape of branches, leaves and flowers. The spirit of Ikebana is to beautify the daily life and to prevail harmony.
Since quite some time Ikebana is a World Heritage. Headquarter of the Ikebana-Ikenobo-Society (national representations exist around the world, for example in Frankfurt / Main) is a modern skyscraper in Kyoto including the Rokkakudo temple. Here is where the experts of this genre hand over the knowledge, while preserving traditions without disregarding the modernity / development.
The change in lifestyle and environment over the centuries is also reflected in the different Ikebana styles of the Ikebono School. Among the traditional forms cultivated today are “Rikka” (origin in the 16th century) and “Shoka”. But also “free forms” are meanwhile accepted.
The “Rikka” has seven to nine basic elements, which consist of contrasting and yet complementary materials per arrangement. The almost puristic “Shoka” had its peak in the 19th century; only three elements are combined. While the first two main elements “Shu” and “Yo” create a harmonious field of tension, the work is still given the finishing touch with “Ashirai”. The most recent form, however, is “freestyle” (jiyuka). It also allows personal preferences in the design according to the taste of the time and the creator/ user.
Well, this all sounds very abstract, but is rather self-explanatory in practice.
Hiroko-san has already made the selection of plants in advance, and hands over a bundle to each participant. According to the season twisted hazelnut branches, calla, iris and broom (two each). First of all, it is important to note the proportions according to the planter that should have a diameter of about 30 centimeters. Accordingly, the highest point is at max. 70 centimeters, that is about 2- to 2.5 times. In consequence now every branch is reivsed with a special mini-secateur (also works with a normal scissor) … snip, snap. While the middle flowers (hanami) always have to stand vertically in graduated heights, all others can be positioned obliquely or bent.
To me the curved or angular shapes of the planters are already inspiring. Incidentally, the “hedgehog” to fix the flowers is made of hollow metal rods (for water supply). Used as a plug-in base, it is quite sharp and heavy in order to provide sufficient support for all stems. Alternatively, there is also a porcelain version.
In contrast to the popular abundance of central European flower arrangements, Ikebana basically means: less is more. This does not only refer to the small number of plants, but also to their processing. To make a composition look perfect and daintily as possible, natural foliage is largely removed; even the smallest ramifications or needles on the stem are undesirable and are cut off separately. Furthermore the so-called “face” or the most beautiful spot of a flower should always point to the front.
The advantage of this method is that there is no rot, the arrangements lasts longer and no water change is necessary. Regular refilling, however, is necessary so that the tips of the “hedgehog” are always under water. If you love the “rock garden effect”, you can also fill small (mosaic) stones in the water bowl.
Finally, the lady-master examines each arrangement and makes – from her point of view – relevant corrections. There is reverent silence. The result is impressive, because although all the participants used the same source material and followed the Ikebana-rules, all works look a bit different. And I am convinced that if Hiroko-san had known the final home placement of the arrangement, she would have also considered this fact.
For about a week, the flower-arrangements now can tell their stories … try it yourself and let yourself be surprised by a special style respectively your very personal flower-moment.