Originating from the East as a form of Buddhist worship, this art of floral decoration is defined literally in Japanese as the art of “living flowers”.
It is a particular technique of arranging cut flowers, based on strong philosophical and religious concepts that exalt nature in its minimalism and the purity of the composition, applying very precise rules that are almost architectural.
The main development of this discipline took place – starting in the 6th century AD – in Japan, where floral sculptures were seen initially as offerings to the gods, and it was practiced mostly by the more affluent classes. Various schools exist today which differ in style and the use of different materials.
A fundamental principle of the Ikebana philosophy is the bond between man and nature in a perfect harmony of shapes, lines and colours, that produce an asymmetric form in which full and empty spaces are balanced in a final uniformity. “The architecture” of the composition is always studied in accordance with a system of 3 elements that represent the key elements of life: the longest branch, the most sculptural, represents the sun, light and tension toward to the sky, contrasting with the shortest branch that represents the earth. Lastly, the middle branch, usually bearing the most beautiful and most colourful flower or the most elegant bud, represents man and in the composition it usually leans out toward the onlooker.
The materials, which are all strictly natural, are put together with minimal formal rigour: leafless branches combined with a few seasonal flowers, green leaves to complete the effect, moss and fruit. The combination always respects the rules of nature: the branches are arranged in the natural direction of growth just as the flowers are positioned in the shape that they would have in their original location.
The quest for balance among all the elements is also found in the search for a suitable container: each school varies its shape in accordance with its own style, always considering the three-dimensional nature of the composition which is conceived to be admired from every angle.