Wed | Jan 23, 2019

Divinity of colours, confluence of culture

Published:Sunday | December 21, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Ikebana ... labour of love and meticulous craftsmanship.
Photos by Amitabh Sharma The beauty and abundance of nature with the bold red of the anthuriums elevating this Ikebana.
Ikebana ... labour of love and meticulous craftsmanship.

Amitabh Sharma, Contributor

It is that time of the year. As the skies turn grey, days become shorter, cool air kisses the skin, the world erupts with joyous emotions, colours and celebrations, nothing expresses the delight of any festive season more than flowers.

Ikebana is an art form that has transcended boundaries and, though embedded in traditional Japanese culture, its variants and manifests are limitless. This ancient form of flower arrangement combines aesthetics with therapeutics and transcendental energy.

Ikebana, loosely translated as the art of arranging cut stems, leaves,
and flowers in vases and other containers, evolved in Japan over seven
centuries ago. Though the arrangements might, like the Japanese
tradition, look minimalist, there is a methodology involved in these

"One can arrange the stems and flowers as
one wishes," said Dr Pauline Milbourn, president of Ikebana
International St Andrew Chapter. "But we have to be familiar with
different ways of fastening and positioning the flowers, which come
after training on Ikebana techniques."

On an overcast
afternoon in Kingston, Milbourn and her colleagues styled an Ikebana in
honour of the birthday of the Japanese emperor. The evolving work of art
used the moribana technique, with a shallow container and a kenzan, a
porcupine-esque holder that had many sharp points, which are where the
stems of the flower are inserted.

The moribana, or
stacking of flowers, gives the user a broad expanse to create shapes and
weave a mound of flowers.


Ikebana, according to texts, is a confluence of
spirituality with beauty, tracing its roots as an offering to Buddha,
the founder of Buddhism. This art form also embraces key traits of
respect and appreciation for nature, finding solitude and

"This (Ikebana) cannot be done in a hurry,"
Milbourn said, "it is a work of patience."

Over the
centuries, Ikebana has evolved into varied forms of arrangement. Rikka
(standing flowers), Seika or Shoka (living flowers), and Nageire (flung
flowers) are used to make arrangements in bowl-shaped vases as opposed
to the moribana (piled-up flowers) style when using dish-like

The Ikebana created by Mibourn and members
of Sogetsu School in Jamaica were a confluence of two cultures, using
bamboo and anthuriums, the focal points to give striking

Upright style

They used
the upright style, randomly but meticulously creating an abstract
pattern by stems, encapsulated with the snowy white Baby Breath and
interspersed with anthuriums, which gave an impression of the Japanese
national flag.

The primary stems were placed
vertically, while the secondary stems, comprising Baby Breath, tilted at
almost 45 degrees and scattered over a 30-degree area to the front. The
ornamental stem - the anthurium - was tilted around 60 degrees and
placed across the front. The shape formed roughly a triangle, and the
arrangement was filled with the two flowers to be shaped into an

This was a work using locally grown flowers
into a traditional art form, striking a balance between the elements -
the overcast skies, the green of the grass and the blue of the water in
the adjacent pool - resonating harmony, which confirmed Buddha's words,
"Peace comes from within. Do not seek it