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Sogetsu Ikebana, Art of Balance and Form


Shea Stanfield
Arts Columnist

Ikebana is often called the “Japanese art of flower arranging”, although this art form is more than simply placing flowers in a vase. It is the creative expression within certain rules of construction using living plant materials or all varieties, not just flowers. The most distinguishable feature of Ikebana that separates it from “western flower arrangement” is its asymmetrical form. The use of empty space is an essential feature of the composition, important in creating the overall harmony between the various shape, line, form, and textural components of the living plant matter.

Ikebana is one of the traditional arts of Japan and has its origins in the Muromachi period, the middle of the fifteenth century. Historical research indicates that the practice of Tatebana (standing flowers) derived from a combination of belief systems including Buddhist and Shinto Torishiro evolving into what we know today as Ikebana. Other Japanese arts emerging during this time were the tea ceremony, Noh, painting, garden design, and architecture.

The Sogetsu Style of Ikeana was established in 1927 by Sofu Teshigahara, who considered Ikebana as an open and creative art form beyond the rules of the classical styles and copying patterns. In the Sogetsu style, it moves with the times, becoming a modern style of Ikebana which can be enjoyed anywhere, any time, and with the free use of a wide range of materials. An example of this is combining withered leaves, seedpods, roots, branches, etc. that are as highly valued in the design as are flowers in full bloom. In more unconventional arrangements, bleached and dried materials are also used.

There are basic principles of Sogetsue Ikebana that are at the foundation of each arrangement, but in this style practitioners are trained to reflect more deeply into themselves for their own inspiration and to express their feelings through their Ikebana designs. Designs are also influenced by the intended placement of the arrangements, whether it is private or public spaces. The arrangement may be as small as 10 cm. or as large to fill the space of theatre stages, hotel foyers, ballrooms, or outside park and nature areas. The common element throughout is the employment of minimalism.

We have the rare opportunity to view a Sogetsu Ikebana Exhibit and to meet the artists of this ancient and modern style in the arrangement of nature’s elements. On The Edge Gallery invites you to “quiet you mind and open your heart” and experience the calming inspiration of Sogetsu Ikebana: Oct. 13, 6-9 p.m. during ArtWalk and Oct. 14, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.  On The Edge Gallery is located at 7050 E. 5th Avenue in Scottsdale. For more information, visit their Web site at

Contact Arts Columnist Shea Stanfield at