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Ikebana's Enduring Appeal

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Ikebana International and the U.S. National Arboretum image of ikebana arrangement

Ikebana International promotes the ancient art of ikebana, or Japanese flower arranging.

The arboretum has a longstanding and continuing relationship with the organization founded to promote ikebana, Ikebana International, and its Washington, D.C., chapter.

For many years, the U.S. National Arboretum and the Washington, D.C. Chapter No. 1 of Ikebana International (I.I.) have co-sponsored an annual exhibition of ikebana in the arboretum’s National Bonsai & Penjing Museum. The exhibitions include demonstrations conducted by I.I. members to educate the public about ikebana, and chapter members are present throughout the show hours to answer questions about ikebana.

In 2006, the arboretum hosted the Washington, D.C., chapterís 50th anniversary exhibition. The largest ever mounted here, the show featured 100 arrangements. Arrangers were members of Chapter No. 1 and special invited guest arrangers from other ikebana chapters. In conjunction with the exhibition, demonstrations of ikebana were given by the chapter’s highest ranking teachers. In addition, the Washington, DC Sumi-e Society’s paintings displayed the subtly sophisticated ink wash technique known as sumi-e.

In tribute to the woman who created Ikebana International, Ellen Gordon Allen, I.I. members donated approximately $20,000 to establish the Ellen Gordon Allen Memorial Garden at the arboretum. Dedicated in 1983, it is located at the entrance to the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum.

In 1979, Chapter No. 1 gave 53 rare books on ikebana to the arboretum’s library, and in 2000, a member of Chapter No. 1, Jesse Denvil Maggard, donated a complete collection of bound Ikebana International magazines to the arboretum library. Members of Chapter No. 1 also volunteer at the arboretum and provide ikebana arrangements in the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum on a regular basis.

The National Arboretum and Ikebana International are good partners: ikebana shares a history and aesthetic principles with bonsai, so ikebana arrangements and special shows fit well in the arboretum’s National Bonsai & Penjing Museum. In addition, ikebana practitioners rely on quality cut flowers and branches, and the arboretum’s research includes work on enhancing the types and production of both.

Learn more about the enduring appeal of ikebana on this site, from its traditional origins, by exploring the newly-digitized three-set volume, Rikka shōdōshū (Translated title: The right principles of rikka), to its continued vitality through the activities of today's enthusiastic supporters.

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Last Updated   October 29, 2008 10:22 AM
URL = http://www.usna.usda.gov/Gardens/collections/ikebana.html

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