The Wonder and Beauty of Ikebana

05 Mar 2024

By Ellen Kaplan, President of Chapter 212 of Ikebana International

Ikebana, translates in Japanese to “flowers kept alive,” is a disciplined art form in which the arrangement is a living thing where nature and humanity are brought together. Steeped in the philosophy of developing a closeness with nature, the artform has been practiced for over 600 years.

As in other arts, Ikebana is creative expression within certain rules of construction. Its materials are living branches, leaves, grasses and blossoms. Its heart is the beauty resulting from color combinations, natural shapes, graceful lines and the meaning latent in the total form of the arrangement—it’s much more than mere floral decoration.

Distinguishing ikebana from other approaches of flower arranging is its asymmetrical form, in addition to the use of empty space as an essential feature of the composition, providing a sense of harmony among the materials, the container and the setting. These aesthetic characteristics are shared with traditional Japanese paintings, gardens, architecture and design.

Ikebana International is a global organization, headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, dedicated to sharing this exquisite art form with the world. Of its hundreds of chapters around the world, Wilmington’s Chapter 212 has been in existence for 42 years. With monthly meetups at the New Hanover Arboretum, attendees can study and practice all the various styles and schools of ikebana. Masters of the art are often flown in from around the country to lead workshops alongside knowledgeable members and teachers in the area. 

And every spring, the Chapter’s exhibition show at the Arboretum (March 29-30th) features over 60 arrangements made by its members, welcoming spring by honoring the delicate balance between nature and human expression. 

Over the centuries, various ikebana schools have emerged, each contributing unique styles and interpretations, ensuring the art’s continued relevance and adaptability. Today, ikebana stands as not just a traditional craft but as a living tradition that continues to captivate enthusiasts worldwide.

For more information, please visit ikebanawilmington212.

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