ikebana and life in japan

a blog about ikebana and life in japan


The Big and Small of Ikebana

I was planning on getting this post up earlier in the day, but it was a beautiful day here -- the first real day of spring this year. It had been cold and rainy all last week. But this morning when I woke up, the sky was a brilliant blue without a cloud in the sky. I had to go out in the morning, and I was surprised to see the cherry blossom trees in full bloom! I guess they thought it was time for spring to show herself, too. I had the windows and door open all day, and it was wonderful! I hope that I can get out tomorrow and get some pictures to share with you later.

On to the ikebana . . .

This time, I wanted to share some pictures of Moribana.

Moribana was originated by the First Headmaster, Unshin Ohara. It's an ikebana where the materials are arranged as if they are piled up in a low, flat container with a large surface of the water showing. Many other schools of ikebana also have a Moribana style, but it was originated in the Ohara School of Ikebana.

The most basic style in Moribana is the Upright Style. It expresses the beauty of materials that stand upright. The three principal stems are arranged to form a scalene triangle with all other materials acting as filler stems.

Five stems of Calla lily are used as the subject and secondary material. The tallest stem in the back is the main stem of the arrangement, the subject, with the stem angled out to the left being the secondary stem. These two form the first two points of the scalene triangle. The other three stems of Calla lily are arranged to give the group a sense of movement and interest.

Because the lilies have no green leaves, three stems of Solidaster are used to fill in the base of the group and to help cover the kenzan.

Next, three Tulips are added as the mid-filler. One is short in the front, one is tall in the middle, and one more is short in the back. The three stems form a mountain shape when viewed from the side.

Last, five stems of Sweet Pea are used as the object group with a few fronds of Leather Leaf mixed into the group. The Sweet Pea angled out to the right is the third stem that forms the last point of the scalene triangle.

This picture taken vertically helps to show off the beautiful lines of the Calla lily and the beauty of the Upright Style.

After doing this arrangement, I did one in a much smaller container, also using five materials.

Three leaves of New Zealand Flax, three stems of Anemone, three blooms of Alstroemeria, three stems of Stock, and Asparagus myriocladus is used throughout to connect all the materials.

A close-up of the flowers.

And how small is this arrangement? It's hard to tell without a point of reference.

This small. Yes, that is a regular pen in front of the container -- small.

And there you have it.

The big and small of ikebana.


Hideki said...

It's very interesting!
I like both works:)

The FitzWilliams said...

Love your arrangements! It's so neat to know the method you use. It's way more structured that I realized. I just enjoy looking at your beautiful flowers, but now I also enjoy understanding a little more about the theory behind it!

Anonymous said...

I like this form a lot. Very elegant. What I like most about the first arrangement is the way you situated the red tulips, so that when viewed from the front, you could only see the smallest dabs of red for accent. What restraint! And through this gesture, you somehow manage to transcend the visual form to express spiritual qualities like humility and modesty and strength.

I'm assuming that this is what separates the art of ikebana from floral decorations that you see everywhere else in the world. Because, the obvious choice, from a "decorative" stand point, would have been to parade the attractive tulips in the foreground. I think your ikebana transcends "decoration" very easily---in its success at expressing something much more lofty, difficult and subtle, namely, the human spirit.


Stephen Coler said...

Thanks for the comment. I think I like the little one best -- but I also like the Calla Lilies. I guess I like them both!

Stephen Coler said...

There are a lot of rules when it comes to making an arrangement. There are actually specific angles and points of insertion that I didn't go into detail about. I guess after years and years of people doing arrangments, the rules were finalized for each style and form. Knowing a little about the rules and the "why" makes the arrangement more interesting for me. I'm planning on making a video of me doing an arrangement, so be on the lookout for that!

Stephen Coler said...

Thanks, again, for the wonderful comment! Part of ikebana is restraint. The Japanese people as a whole are a restrained people, not liking to stand out or not be part of a group (a vast generalization, of course). So, I guess it is easy to see and feel this in ikebana. I think that when you also hide the flowers, it makes you notice them more, because you realy have to look to see them. When I first started doing ikebana, I wanted everything to be big and in your face, because I thought that was beautiful -- it was what I had grown up seeing in floral arrangements from home. Now, when I see a traditional floral arrangement from home, I think it is too much, too gaudy. I like to have things peeking out, hiding, and turning to the side so just a portion is showing. To me, this is the real beauty of ikebana, and can be a guide as to how you live your life.

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