There is definitely a Zen element in an Ikebana arrangement. If nothingness or emptiness is what a Zen practitioner aims to achieve, this Japanese flower arrangement makes use of empty spaces to come up with a ‘living flower arrangement’, literally.

It is not the clutter of twigs or a riot of colours popping out of a vase, but a structured use of flowers, leaves and stems that makes Ikebana stand out.

“Japanese people are one with nature. They find God inside flowers, pay a lot of attention to flower arrangements and enjoy colour coordination. A single branch and flower can make an Ikebana arrangement,” says Masakazu Chiji, senior master of the Ohara School of Ikebana, Japan, who was in town recently for the silver jubilee celebrations of the Hyderabad chapter of the school.

“Ikebana started during the ‘Muromachi’ period. At first it was for the elite. The Samurai presented Ikebana during the tea ceremony. Later, they taught the art to the others and that’s when Ikebana got popular,” he adds.

“There are numerous styles of Ikebana and some of the oldest schools are ‘Ohara’ and ‘Sogetsu’. The Hyderabad chapter of Ohara School of Ikebana was started by Horyu Meena Anantanarayan. Today we have 350 members,” says Okhi Anisha Tandon, editor, Hyderabad chapter.

The Ikebana school organises workshops and classes for its students regularly. The silver jubilee event featured workshops and demonstrations of various styles of flower arrangement at Jubilee Hall.

An exhibit by Mr. Masakazu found the use of branches, flowers and leaves. Euphorbia, grapefruit laden stem and sapota branches came together for various styles.

“In Japan, cherry blossom is elaborately used in Ikebana. Alcohol and vinegar are added to the arrangement so that the presentation stays for a longer time. Flat base for the arrangements mark the ‘Ohara’ style,” he says.

The landscape, ‘Moribana’, was a depiction of natural surroundings over a bed of water. ‘Hana-kanade, Heika’ and ‘Rimpa’ were other arrangements displayed by him. “You don’t need extensive gardens or elaborate flowers for Ikebana. Even a cup and saucer can showcase a beautiful flower arrangement,” she says.

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