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Ikebana vases

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Japan is one of the rare countries that has managed to preserve over the centuries its traditional arts which constitute its past, its history and its culture. Among these arts we find many which come in the form of sport like sumo, martial art like kyudo, figurative and symbolic art like prints but also like ikebana . Indeed, perhaps you have already heard of this floral art during a stay in Japan or from someone around you, in any case it is more than a simple way to highlight floral elements. In Japanese culture, ikebana has always been considered a true materialization of the Zen path so advocated for centuries by the wisest of Japanese men. We therefore suggest that you take a quick tour of this floral art and its ancestral practice in order to help you discover the essence of this codified practice and see why it has managed to cross the centuries and now the continents.

Origin of ikebana

Originally introduced by China in the 8th century, like many cultural elements of the Japanese country, ikebana was then only a simple way of highlighting the beauty of flowers and the elements provided by nature. Only Japanese nobles and aristocrats then seized this floral art in order to decorate their residences or the great Imperial Court. But quickly during the samurai era, ikebana was considered more than just a figurative art. As the influence of Buddhism in Japan grew, the path of Zen also made its own path, often mixing one with the other. From year to year, ikebana gradually took shape, artisan florists and masters of this art developed particular techniques in order to best enhance the floral elements within the ikebana vases and the different flowers that nature offered them. .

However, the wealthy Japanese were the only ones to enjoy this art until the 15th century. It was indeed necessary to wait for the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa to introduce tokonoma into homes so that ikebana would cross all social strata. The tokonoma being a slightly elevated place within a house, often large with a surface area of ​​one to two meters, the Japanese began to fill it with ikebana floral arrangements in order to add natural decoration to the house. But more than just intended to bring a little nature and flower to a place other than the garden, ikebana established itself as a real means of expression within which those who create a composition convey a real emotion as well. feelings. Here's how an ikebana master defines it:

“Japanese ikebana is a philosophy, a form of thought. We work on the marriage between flowers and plants. We seek to purify the composition to highlight each of the flowers. The flowers change appearance over time, which illustrates the passing seasons. All this forms a kind of balance that can be disrupted at any time. In fact, we can see in these compositions a kind of metaphor for life. »

Why practice ikebana?

After reading the definition given by an ikebana master with several years of experience, we understand quite quickly that it is not a question of simply putting a few varieties of flowers in a vase to look pretty in a room. To understand the essence of ikebana you really have to see it as a means of expression that an artist would realize in its own right in the same way that painting, singing or sculpture can be. Thus, it is very different from our way of highlighting flowers which consists in the majority of cases of grouping several types of flowers with different colors in order to form a bouquet. Ikebana, on the contrary, advocates a purification of its components and that is why we often find no more than three or four components. Each of them indeed has a real meaning and none is there by chance.

The practice of ikebana is therefore primarily intended for those who feel an attraction towards nature, flowers or at least contact with it in general. If you let yourself be carried away by the game, you will quickly see for yourself that you will be able to let yourself speak by creating personal floral arrangements that suit you and which reflect a part of your personality. To conclude, practicing ikebana will allow you to free yourself perhaps from a certain weight or a desire to express yourself through floral elements for which you have an attraction, all while fully embracing Japanese Zen culture. In addition, it is a good opportunity to integrate your floral arrangements into your interior decoration in order to bring a little freshness to a room or even to build a perfect place for practicing meditation.

What is the difference between a normal vase and an ikebana vase?

When you start in ikebana it is legitimate to ask yourself what equipment is necessary to practice, which we will see just after, but first it is important to clearly differentiate why the selection of the ikebana vase should not be taken lightly . In an ikebana floral arrangement you will often have to hold large flowers, or even branches, and therefore a tool called kenzan (flower stick) was invented in order to hold these elements upright. This kenzan is therefore intended to be placed at the bottom of the vase and is often covered with additional elements such as moss or bark in order to cover it. Your vase must therefore have a flat bottom and not have a spout that is too tight in order to accommodate this kenzan. If necessary, you will not be able to place your kenzan and consequently make your floral arrangement stand upright. Secondly, a normal vase is only intended to decorate a room and a match between it and the flower(s) it accommodates is not necessarily sought. Conversely, the ikebana vase must absolutely be complementary from the point of view of its shape, its design and its colors with the composition which it is responsible for holding together, otherwise your ikebana floral arrangement will not be homogeneous.

How to make an ikebana floral arrangement?

Now that you know what ikebana is and that you have had a little glimpse of its symbolic dimension, it is time to see how to create your first composition. First, we recommend that you start by choosing your floral elements, two at least. To do this, choose beautiful flowers with which you already have an affinity and which, if possible, are complementary in terms of their colors. Don’t hesitate to ask a botany pro for ideas if you’re lucky enough to have one around you. If necessary, you can take white flowers, tulips, roses, orchids or even green plants if you are lacking inspiration. Also don't deprive yourself of looking at seasonal flowers to be sure to have blooming flowers or even more exotic Japanese flowers if you are looking for something original. If you want to add something extra to your composition, you can always take care to select only fragrant flowers in order to add charm to your floral decoration. Once done, you will need to choose your ikebana vase. At Au coeur du Japon we therefore offer you a wide range of ikebana vases with which you can create elegant floral arrangements. There are actually three types of ikebana vases and depending on the flowers and/or branches you have chosen, you will have to make a choice between these three families of vases:

  • Nageire vase: These are slender vases in height, often around twenty centimeters high and which will therefore be perfect if your elements are large in length.
  • Moribana vase: Moribana vases are often the most used in ikebana because they can accommodate almost all types of flowers. It is a flat vase often comparable to a dish or a plate.
  • Yubana vase: The last category of vases corresponds to vases made from elements not intended to accommodate a floral arrangement.

Once you have made your choice from these three types of ikebana vases, all you have to do is install your kenzan in the latter and then place your flowers there while taking care to give them the orientation you want. Then finish your composition by using pruning shears or a pair of scissors suitable for ikebana to cut off the excess petals and foliage in order to purify your composition and make it breathe. You are ready to add a beautiful decorative but also romantic element to your home, but also beautiful aromatic flavors which often accompany an ikebana floral arrangement.

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