Tryst with Ikebana

Ikebana is a traditional, disciplined art of flower arrangement that has originated from Japan. It has been dated back to the 7th century when the floral offerings were made at altars and has grown over centuries. “Ikebana” is from the Japanese ikeru (生ける?, “keep alive, arrange flowers, living”) and hana (?, “flower”).  In contrast to Western flower arrangement which is heavily influenced with flowers, Ikebana also uses twigs, branches and stones to symbolize heaven, earth and man. Their placement shows the relationship between each other and with the environment too.

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Ikebana comprises of three main stems. They are called “shin” which is the longest branch, “soe” – the medium branch and “tai” which is the shortest branch. Sometimes, these are used to relate the heaven, earth and man. “Heaven” is the sky, the freedom and aligns with creativity. “Earth” is the ground, the disciplines and the rules. Without disciplines and rules, things will fall apart. “Heaven” and “earth” are indeed “Yin” and “Yang”, they cannot exist alone. Man is the one that forms the balance between heaven and earth.

My Mom took me to the Ikebana class when I was 12 years old, where I learnt the Moribana and Shatai style. Moribana is one of the most popular style and was influenced by Western blooms. It is less structured than other styles.I participated in a lot of flower shows and won in competitions back then. Although I do not practice Ikebana regularly now, I do turn towards it from time to time when I sought peace in my mind and heart. Creating an Ikebana arrangement is indeed supposed to have a meditative quality, as the designer reflects on the beauty of nature and gains inner peace. It takes years and years to practice and master this art form. My Mom regularly influences me with new flower arrangement pictures, vases and decor that she collects from various stores.

I am not an expert in this art form. However, that does not deter me from being a lifelong student and practicing it whenever I get time. Below are some of the arrangements I have made in the past few months:

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