Posted in Kafevend Blog

Time once more to look to the Japanese tea ceremony for inspiration and perhaps with spring firmly established it's high time we looked at flowers. As we've recently discovered, the ceremony is about more than tea itself. Spiritually tied to Zen, Chadō (the Way of Tea) values natural, unrefined beauty and there is little to adorn the simple, rustic tea room. What there is though, will have been very carefully chosen to complement the theme of the tea ceremony and a simple flower arrangement is often displayed.

The art of Japanese flower arrangement is called ikebana. As you may have noticed if you've read the preceding blogs on this theme, nature is highly venerated in Japan. Little wonder then that ikebana is a disciplined art form studied and practised today by the widest cross section of society; in times gone by even Samurai warriors were involved. Just as there are hundreds of schools dedicated to the study of Chadō, there are also a multitude of schools of ikebana. The oldest one of all is Ikenobo, founded by a Buddhist priest of the same name in the fifteenth century. The various schools teach different styles, which range from the very formal to free style. Nevertheless, shape, line and form are central to ikebana across the board. Unlike a  typical British flower arrangement, a Japanese one will contain few blooms; the twigs, leaves and container are just as important to the finished composition.

The style of flower arrangement used in the tea ceremony is called chabana, meaning quite literally tea flowers. It is one of the less formal styles and is believed to have been first adopted as part of the ceremony by none other than Sen no Rikyū. A carefully thought out flower arrangement is the embodiment of natural beauty and also reflects the season, making it easy to see how the art of chabana became an important component of Chadō.

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