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the Japanese decorative art of flower arrangement



the art of flower arranging, popular in Japan. Often the bouquet itself, if put together in keeping with the rules, is called ikebana. The art of ikebana originated in the 15th century as part of the ritual of the tea ceremony.

Ikebana has three main components: the natural material (flowers, tree branches, leaves, or conifer needles), the vase, and the kendzan (a device for strengthening the stem and keeping it in the desired position). The ikebana composition is determined by the three main branches (or flowers), which have a symbolic meaning: the tall branch symbolizes the sky; the middle branch, man; and the bottom branch, the earth. The basic aesthetic principle of ikebana is refined simplicity, achieved by bringing out the natural beauty of the material, which determines the bouquet’s asymmetrical composition and contrasting colors and textures. The arrangement is usually placed in a special niche, the tokonoma, and not only creates a bright decorative effect, but also sets the emotional tone for an interior.

Ikebana has a large number of divisions— rikka, or standing flowers (17th century); shoka, or live-flower style (18th century); moribana, or the “piling up” (19th century); zeugata, or the free style (20th century); and zeneibana, the avant-garde style (20th century). There are schools teaching the principles of ikebana; the most popular at present is the Sogetsu school, led by Sofu Teshigahara.


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