|Chabana arrangements are |
typically small, especially when
the ceremony is held in a very
As I mentioned in earlier posts, the whole aesthetic behind the tea ceremony is wabi-sabi, which includes two main ideas. The wa of wabi has to do with peace, tranquility, harmony, and balance. The original word wabi meant sad, desolate, or lonely, but it has come to mean simple, non-materialistic, humble by choice, and in tune with nature. Sabi means "the bloom of time," and refers to the natural progression of life. Sabi also had an original meaning "to be desolate," but the meaning has gradually changed, so it now means "to grow old." Wabi-sabi, then, is the Japanese art of finding beauty in imperfection and acknowledging the natural cycles of growth, decay and death. To illustrate the idea, here are a few contrasts: wabi-sabi is a unique purchase from a flea market rather than bulk-buying at a warehouse store, aged wood rather than laminate wood, rice paper window shades rather than clear glass windows. It is an appreciation of cracks and other imperfections that result from the normal wear and tear of daily use or the weathering of the seasons. Wabi-sabi reminds us that we are transient beings, here on earth for a relatively short span of time. Life is to be appreciated in the present moment, since it cannot be frozen in time and relived later. Using the concept of wabi-sabi, we can learn to appreciate all aspects of life, including frayed edges on our clothing, rust on our tools, and liver spots on our hands.
The flowers in the tokonoma at a tea ceremony may look like a regular ikebana arrangement, to you and me, but they are a type of arrangement that is completely separate, called chabana. You already know that cha means tea and some of you may know that bana is a variant of the word hana, which means flower. Chabana, then, are flowers for tea. They are meant to represent the wabi-sabi idea that beauty is ephemeral and impermanent.
There are fewer rules for chabana arrangements than for regular ikebana, but I suppose it wouldn't be very Japanese to have no rules at all. The most important thing is for the flowers to be fresh, seasonal, and natural. Just because a flower is blooming right now doesn't mean it's "in season." These days, thanks to hothouses, you can get just about any flower anytime, and we Americans have lost our sense of what flowers (and foods!) are truly in season.
|Woven basket arrangement|
|This type of arrangement is for an evening tea ceremony, since flowers don't normally bloom at night.|
|Memorial arrangements in hanging baskets|
The vases used for chabana arrangements tend to be the tall type, much like vases that we use in the West. Vases can be made of metal, glazed and unglazed ceramics, bamboo, glass, or other materials. Regular ikebana has a nage-ire style with tall vases, too, but there are a lot of rules that apply to the proportions of the branches and flowers, and how they are arranged in the vase. By contrast, flower arrangements for a tea ceremony are supposed to look like they were just thrown into the vase, but artfully, of course. :-)