Ike-bana, or the art of flower arrangement, pp. 228-230
A FEW FLOWERS as many of us possess and think necessary to fill with great masses of blossoms. When the arrangement is partially complete, the defective and superfluous parts are clipped off. The Japanese flower artist exercises much care in this cutting as, according to the rules of his art, a flower below a leaf is considered weaker than one above, and while it is correct to leave a strong flower near a weak leaf, a weak or overblown flower should never be near curled or bent leaves. Although this art is called flower ar- rangement, many arrangements are made in which not a single flower occurs. Branches and foliage of the evergreens are much, used-pictured arrangements of Jap- anese pine will occur to everyone-and even the foliage of deciduous trees, notably the maple, are much used. Some flowers are considered by the Jap- anese to be very unlucky and are almost never used in decoration; such are the or- chid and the lotus. Purple flowers signify mourning and are seldom used for feasts. The willow and other drooping plants, sup- posed to typify lack of constancy, are, of course, considered unsuitable for weddings. Flowers having a strong odor are not to be placed before guests. Many combinations of different flowers are used, but they must be carefully planned as there are combinations that because of redundancy of expression-as a grouping of cherry and peach-or for some other rea- son such as similarity of form-as in the case of the iris and orchid-are not consid- ered fitting. Examples of good combina- tions are pine and chrysanthemum, camellia and narcissus, bamboo and morning-glory. A harmony must exist between the con- taining vessel and the flowers, and accord- ing to an allied principle, there are certain compositions suitable for use in vases to be placed on a low stand that must not be used for hanging vessels or those on a high shelf. For the latter is appropriate an arrangement that suggests floral growth on the edge of a bank or cliff. The favorite form of vase for a low table or shelf is a broad-mouthed one that allows of the required stability at the base of the composition. For water plants, a low tub-like vessel with sand and pebbles and rocks is used. Vessels to be hooked against the wall or a pillar are low and usually rounded below. The arrange- ments best suited for them are of a simple and quaint nature. For suspended vessels, 230 the crescent-shaped vase is a favorite, and the bamboo tube cut to represent a boat. Special arrangements have been devised for these suspended boats-arrangements that suggest the sails of a boat, and sometimes having a streamer down the side to repre- sent the anchor. In this series are arrange- ments called the "ship becalmed," "ship in port," "ship outward bound" and "ship homeward bound." The water in these ves- sels must not be seen as that would spoil the illusion by suggesting that the ship was not seaworthy. The part of the Japanese house in which the flower arrangements are made is the tokonorna, a little raised recess in the draw- ing room. It is here that a kakemono, or perhaps several, hangs, and the flower ar- rangement is sometimes made to harmonize with the pictures and placed in the right re- lation to them, and sometimes it has a small enclosure of its own in the recess. In Japan where there have been for cen- uries imperial garden parties for the "view- ing" of the cherry blossoms in season, and where nearly every tree has a romantic leg- end handed down through the ages, Ike- bana is one of the fine arts and a very hon- orable pursuit. It is surrounded by a cere- monial and an etiquette all its own and is practiced by philosophers, priests, men of rank who have retired from active life, and ladies of the nobility. Its professors are considered to belong to an aristocracy of talent, and are given a rank and social precedence to which they might not be en- titled by birth. It is the beautiful belief of the Japanese that gentleness of spirit, self- denial and forgetfulness of cares come to those who practice the art of flower ar- rangement. A knowledge, however slight, of the Jap- anese art of flower arrangement is of value to every lover of flowers. For although America is a land of flowers, still there are many of us, especially in the.city, who may only have a few flowers on special occa- sions. And the art of using these flowers to the very best advantage so that we get all the beauty of which they are capable is one to add greatly to the artistic interest and personal enjoyment of life. For in- stance, it is quite possible to take thirty or forty short-stemmed jonquils or narcissus and put them in a great brass bowl, and have a certain delight of color. But if you know something of Japanese flower arrange- ment, you will be content with seven.
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