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Classical shōka arrangement from the Sōka Hyakki
Illustration of the principal lines used in seika, which are "heaven", "human", and "earth"[1]

Seika (生花) is a form of ikebana.[2] Written with the same kanji characters, it is also pronounced and known as Shōka.


The painter Sōami and the art patron and shōgun Ashikaga Yoshimasa were supporters of the style as early as the 15th century. It reached its peak of popularity and artistic development in the 18th century and was formalised in the late Edo period.[2]

Works that were published include the Sōka Hyakki (挿花百規), a collection of 100 drawings of shōka works by the 40th headmaster Ikenobō Senjō (池坊専定). Senjō himself selected these works published in 1820. The original drawings were made by Matsumura Keibun and Yokoyama Seiki, painters of the Shijō school.[3] The Senshō Risshōkashū (専正立生華集) is a collection of 100 drawings of rikka and shōka works by the 42nd headmaster Ikenobō Senshō (池坊専正).[4] In the West, Japanese flower arrangement (Ike-bana) applied to Western needs is a book written by Mary Averill. It was published in 1913 and gives a description in English of seika, mostly from the Enshū-ryū school.[5]

In Ikenobō shōka, there are two styles: shōka shōfūtai with traditional form, and shōka shimputai with no set form. Shōka shimputai was introduced by the headmaster Sen'ei Ikenobō in 1997 as a new style of shōka.[6]


Seika incorporates many of the structural rules and classical feeling of the ancient rikka. The concept of shussho (inner beauty) of a plant is key in the arrangement and is expressed as the living forms of plants rooted in the soil and growing upward towards the sun. It uses one to three kinds of floral materials, arranged in a single vase.[2][6]

The set-up is basically triangular, with three main lines: shin the central axis symbolising "truth"; soe the supporting branch, and tai, which are branches placed near the base to balance everything. Shin symbolises heaven, soe symbolises human, and tai the earth. Together they represent the universe. The number of branches should always be an uneven number. The length of each branch is also proscribed.[1][2]

The natural characteristics of the plant have to be respected and the arrangement either done in the upright, slanted or hanging form. Also depending on where the plants would grow determines the position of it in the arrangement. So for example plants from mountain regions have to be placed above those from the lower lands. Plants used should also be seasonal to reflect the respective season in which the arrangement is being made.[2]

Aspidistra elatior leaves are the usual tool for beginners to learn the basics of seika as they are easily handled and the side for the sun can be seen clearly.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

Media related to Seika at Wikimedia Commons