Friday 6 June 2014

Ikebana Today 24

What is ikebana? Let’s look into the word itself, Ikebana. When did people start using it? They needed to invent the word to describe something that could not be described using existing words. What was happening?  

Actually the word, Ikebana is really complicated. Historically, the first form of Ikebana was called Tatehana, standing flower. It became Rikka, which is in a sense the most sophisticated style of Ikebana, and is still practiced today particularly in the Ikenobo school. Rikka also means standing flower and the name reflects the form of arrangements made in this style.

Tatehana means to make lying flower (cut flower) vertical. That’s all. But Ikebana means to make dying flower alive. The focus is on something deeper than the superficial forms.     

It is also worth noting that in the beginning Ikebana was not a mainstream of style of flower arrangement, which had moved from Tatehana to Rikka. I suppose that some people felt the need to create a new word, Ikebana, as a way of criticising the major styles at that time, claiming that they were making flowers alive rather than simply making them stand up. 

Considering that Rikka was supported by samurais, aristocrats, and even emperors, naming a style “Ikebana” could be seen as an implied criticism of those in the upper classes, or even of the hierarchy itself. Imagine how radical it was to criticise flower arrangements appreciated by emperors. 

However, this is all just my hypothesis. I’ll talk more about the word, Ikebana in the next issues, based on the advice from the top Ikebana researchers in International Society of Ikebana Studies (  

This is the work I made for the exhibition of Mr and Ms Hoshino at Lesley Kehoe Galleries in December last year. Ms Hoshino’s container was extremely challenging to work with but I felt relived to know that both artists were happy with my work.