It is proposed that the original meaning of ikebana as well as Ikebana is to give a new life to a flower. Arranging flowers is like a ritual that gives new life to the dead cut flower. Ikebana may be comparable to a rite of passage.
In Japan, births, marriages, coming of age and funerals are all rites of passage that signify the death of old self and rebirth of a new self. It is important to realise that the cut flower as material for Ikebana and a flower as Ikebana work are completely different. Arranging flowers may be like conducting a funeral or a marriage. In any case, that is how I define Ikebana.
My course, Japanese Aesthetics: Ikebana to Contemporary Art at RMIT University will start again in July this year. Three Ikebana papers of mine were published this month, including “Ikebana in English: Bibliographical Essay” in the International Journal of Ikebana Studies, Vol.2. Please visit my site for the details.