Mar 13, 2010

Flowers for tea

Chabana, literally flowers for tea is a different art of arranging flowers than the better known ikebana (literally living flowers).  The best way to learn chabana is to make many arrangements and have someone more knowlegeable critique them, and look at arrangements others have done (even in books, photos and tea gatherings you attend).

There are lists of flowers with their scientific names and common names that are appropriate for chabana. I'll try to dig one up in my notes. Though there are fewer rules for arranging chabana, I have included some of the things I have learned:

Arrange flowers for tea using your feet -- not literally, but to walk around until you find the right flowers.

Arrange flowers as they appear when growing. (one of the seven rules of Rikyu)

Only use flowers that are seasonally in bloom.

Mountain and field flowers are best.

Choose flowers that are short lived (2 hours are ideal).

Typical chabana flowers are camellia in winter, rose of sharon in summer.

There are no ranks of flowers, but there are ranks of vases. I'll do another post on vases, baskets and flower boards, later.

Try to avoid flowers with a strong smell, too strong colors, flowers whose names mean bad things and thorns, though if you use roses (not the best choice) remove the thorns.

The flowers should be somewhat lonely, it doesn't take a lot of flowers to make chabana.

Choose your flowers and arrange with one breath.

Flowers are the first thing you see when entering the tea room. Utensils = past, Flowers = now.

Hana ji kokoro - flower is the heart

When arranging chabana remember shi sei do (four pure group)
  1. Bamboo
  2. Water
  3. Heart
  4. Flower
Tsuyu, dew is important so we always spray, or wet the flowers just before the guests enter the room. Another way to put dew on the flowers is to take a chasen and flick the flowers with water. Make sure the walls of the tokonoma show the spray to show that the mud or walls of the tokonoma are accepting of the flower.

Listen to the flowers and the right one for today is speaking to you.

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