One of the most poetic and powerful expressions of Flower Power can be found in Ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arrangement. Much more than a stylish undertaking, Ikebana is really a philosophy/art hybrid: the discipline of arranging cut flowers, branches, leaves and grass to form a three-dimensional work of art that reflects the arranger’s spiritual understanding of the world. There is most definitely a meditative quality to this art form. Seasoned designers realize not only the importance of silence, but also the importance of space, which is not meant to be filled, but created and preserved through the arrangements. This ties into other principles of Ikebana including minimalism, shape and line, form, humanity, aesthetics, and balance.
Below: image via Contacto Japon
In Japan, flower arrangements are used as decorations on a level with paintings and other art objects. This remarkably high development of floral art in Japan can be attributed to the Japanese love of nature. In principle, ikebana aims not at bringing a finite piece of nature into the house, but rather at suggesting the whole of nature, by creating a link between the indoors and the outdoors.
Below: images via Stichting Kunstboek
This art form casts a whole new light on the use of floral containers as they are chosen to complement the concept and lines of the arrangement. Virtually any vessel can be turned into an ikebana container with the help of a kenzan (a flower frog) to hold the flowers in place.
Below: images via Kinfolk
For many of its practitioners, Ikebana is a lifelong lesson, a way to achieve a little inner stillness in which to work towards a richer spiritual understanding of the world, just like the Zen monks do through their meditation techniques. A classic Ikebana text lists the ten virtues of an Ikebana master, powerful indeed:
Do not discriminate
Develop a peaceful mind
Develop a selfless mind
Develop a graceful mind
Make friends without words
Seek a closeness to the Divine
Learn about plants
Be aware of scents all the time
Dismiss any harmful thoughts