Ikebana – the history and traditions

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Ikebana – history and traditions

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Presented to your attention excerpts from “the Book of ikebana”, the author – Kawase Toshiro, 2000, with the aim of presenting the basic historical stages of development of the art of ikebana.

An offering to the gods

The nature of Japan’s rich, beautiful and diverse, that has always led people in awe. Seasonal changes so distinct in Japan, showed to the people all the colors of the plant world. In the “Nihonteki”, the annals of 720 g. for it is written, as fact that «all plants can talk” that all the trees and flowers, talking to us, using our human language. Unity with nature is clearly evident even from the names by which the ancient Japanese had named their gods. For example, konohana ward-Saku-ya-hime (Princess-Flowering tree)… In ancient times the Japanese believed that in every manifestation of nature’s living deity, be it stone, or a flower… Along with the ritual visit to a Holy place was developed and the rite of the meeting of the gods. A special ceremony known as “kami-mukae” (the meeting of deity) was dedicated to the arrival of the deity. Some bait or a beacon for the deities were plants. Preference was given to old evergreen trees, it was believed that such solid trees may be worthy shelter for deities. Such trees were called “ereira”.

The art of flower arrangement originated from this sacred rite invitations to visit the deities. The rite, which is the essence of setting the composition of ikebana, and is the source of inspiration from which the modern art of ikebana draws strength so far…

…the Ancient Shinto tradition “ereira” was transformed into a Buddhist view of the world, and flowers has kept its sacred contents – flowers in Buddhism began to perform the role of «ereira”. So standing composition in the form of offerings to the Buddha – “Tataru Kuga” – and being a mixture of Shinto and Buddhist traditions, evolved over time in the “tatehana” – vertical ikebana composition that can be called the prototype of the modern ikebana…

Flowers as an object of admiration

The first flower arrangements were made from evergreen tree species, plants, popular also Lotus flowers. Over time, arose and developed interest in the use of seasonal plants that nature at certain times of the changing seasons. Hence the custom to put in a vase as a decoration of a twig with cherry blossoms, thus creating the impression of natural flowering at home…. As a tradition of putting on live house song became particularly popular experiments with details of plants – from a vase to a support plant material. Simultaneously, the flowers firmly entrenched as the object of worship in literature, painting, people interested in enjoying the beauty of flowers deepened, honed tradition to follow the seasonal changes in nature in the compositions of….

Aesthetics and animacy colors

…the Great poet Matsuo Basho (1644-94) was called the nature of the word “of joke”: the first Chinese character which means ‘to do” and the second – “to change form”. The meaning of this term was that nature is not something strictly fixed, but constantly changing and temporary – such is the traditional Japanese view of nature… In Japanese aesthetic tradition and the feeling of nature is not only not separate, but coexist. The Japanese believe that all living beings can feel, as human beings, but only temporarily located in another substance of life in the wheel of rebirth. The Japanese view of life and death is not brighter as expressed in the concept of ikebana, the word “ikebana” comes from the verb “gets” (to revive) and the “Khan” (flower). Ikebana – just an attempt to look beyond the flower, in the hidden essence, an inner “soul flower” – just as the lovers are trying to understand the mental state each other…

Staged compositions from flowers

Tokonoma-a niche where the works of art: scrolls, vases or ikebana, originated initially in the homes of the aristocrats of the Heian period (8-12 century) were bocuma – room, which housed a Buddhist altar. Buruma subsequently migrated to the living quarters, and there began to put flowers tatehana – an offering to the Buddha. With time – in the Muromachi period (1333-1568) with the development of purely Japanese architectural style, the tokonoma appeared… With the advent of the schools of ikebana Ikenobo, the founder of which was the Buddhist monk Sankey, style tatehana finally took shape in ricca in the early 17th century

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