The Japanese art of flower arrangement, Ikebana, provides an alternative to western flower arrangements which typically consist of many layers and symmetrical styles.
Ikebana is an art form which focuses on blending nature and humanity together. The practice began in the 15th century, its name coming from the Japanese word ike, which means “alive" and bana, meaning “flower."
An awareness that nature has its own rhythm and order is considered the first step in practicing Ikebana. The arrangement serves as a link between the indoors and the outdoors, aiming to reference nature as a whole. Because of this, artists often use a large variety of plant material in each piece. In an Ikebana arrangement, seed pods, leaves and branches are considered just as important as flowers.
Rather than paint or clay, ikebana utilizes any plant material such as blossoms, leaves, living branches, and grasses, to create art. Not only is ikebana an art form, but it is also considered a spiritual process associated with meditation. Arrangements are meant to be crafted in silence to allow the artist to appreciate the beauty of nature and gain inner peace. This silence is believed to help artists appreciate the moment, in addition to aspects of nature they had previously considered insignificant.
Unlike other flower arrangements, Ikebana employs asymmetry and empty space to develop harmony among the plants, container, and setting. The aim of these floral arrangements is to use as few plants as possible to bring attention to the flower’s beauty. Principles of Ikebana include minimalism, shape and line, form, humanity, aesthetic, and balance.
Benefits of practicing Ikebana are said to include a higher level of patience and tolerance towards differences in nature as well as in people. The practice is said to help you see beauty in all forms of art and in yourself. In addition, one is expected to grow closer to nature through merging indoor and outdoor into one.