Even as the world is exploring the relationship between man and nature and is now trying to find solutions to environmental problems like global warming, ancient Japanese found a beautiful way to weave a harmonious relationship between the sky, earth and man, through Ikebana. Ikebana is the art of arranging flowers aesthetically and thematically and has a history of six centuries. It is said that the Chinese monks passed on the art to the Japanese which was improvised upon by the latter in several different ways. Initially, Ikebana was known as ike-no-bo or the ‘hut by the pond’.
Over a period of time it acquired its present name. The Japanese Royalty, Samurai Families and the major Temples in Japan practised the art with great reverence and protected the secrets of the art from the common man. It is said that a complete knowledge of Ikebana is like learning a coded language and people who know the art will be able to read the mind or the message of the artist without having to use any other form of communication. For instance, in Ikebana the elegance of a branch conveys the change of the seasons. A single flower symbolizes nature. Bamboo symbolizes integrity since it doesn’t bend and so on.
Centuries later, the western world, which was very fascinated with Ikebana, wooed the masters of the art and learnt the fascinating art for the sheer joy of learning something so profound. As time progressed, Japan was introduced to various other flowers from different parts of the world which they skillfully incorporated into their art. In due course of time, the Japanese realised that if they shared their knowledge with the rest of the world, the chances of sustaining the heritage with all its purity, automatically stood high.
Many people think Ikebana is one single solitary form of art. But if you were to develop an interest to learn more about the art, you would likely find it to be an exhaustive subject. Though a traditional form of art, it is adding new dimensions to it till this day without swerving from the basic concepts of the art. It is complex and beautiful at the same time.
As they say, “The principles never change; it is the form which is always changing.”
The popularity and relevance of Ikebana can be realised if you have noticed the number of courses that are being conducted in and around your city, to introduce you to the various facets of the art. If one intends to learn the art in the best possible manner one must spend anywhere between three and five years to master this ancient art which helps mankind strike its balance with nature.
Once you decide to learn the art in right earnest, you will find the subject unfolding to various intricacies and branching off to several variations. Of late, Ikebana specialists even abstain from the use of flowers in their arrangement and yet are successful in creating an aura of aesthetic appeal with mere twigs, pebbles and leaves. Ikebana can last from anywhere between three days and thirty days depending on the material used for the arrangement.
Material required for conventional art is generally available with high profile florists or in venues where short-term courses on the subject are conducted. Once a person gains insight into the art it can be implemented with varying shades of creativity. If arranged in the lounges, corridors, niches of homes, offices and public places, the ambience of the place will not only be elevated but will also be a beautiful point to start a conversation, explaining to the admirer the intricacies of the weave of a harmonious relationship between man and nature.