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Flower Power: The Art of Flower Arranging

Updated: 2014-12-01 14:08:10

( Chinaculture.org )

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As an important part of interior decorating, a skillfully executed Chinese flower arrangement is equivalent -- in the eyes of a serious practitioner -- to a well-designed and balanced painting in terms of composition.

The origin of flower art stems from people's love of flowers. Some believe that flower arrangements have the power to create an atmosphere for a better reality and more brilliant life. In China, the primitive concept for flower arrangements came into being about 2,000 years ago. The art enjoyed prosperous development during the Sui (581-618) and Tang (618-907) dynasties, a time of relative peace and high civilization. During this period, flower arrangements became an established part of daily life. The art form also underwent many changes from its former function as an item for sacrifice.

By the Song Dynasty (960-1279), flower arrangements had become popular among ordinary people and were much loved by intellectuals, inspiring many related poems and works. The Chinese art of flower arrangements reached its peak in theMing Dynasty(1368-1644), during which time it enjoyed many developments and innovations in terms of technique and theory. However, the development of the art declined in theQing Dynasty(1644-1911). Due to the chaos caused by wars, the art almost disappeared at the turn of the century. It was not until recently that, with the development of the national economy and improvement of people's living standards, that fresh flowers gradually made a comeback.

  Sources of plant material

Meadows and woods offer an endless variety of plant life. Indiscriminately plucking wild flowers is considered taboo. Children should be taught that flowers near the roadside should be left for passersby to enjoy and that rare plants, such as the arbutus, heather and trilliums, should never be picked.

In gardens, flowers should be available throughout the seasons. Gardeners say that about a dozen well-chosen varieties will provide interesting combinations until late autumn and can later be used for dried winter bouquets. Garden plants with unusual leaves, buds or seed pods should also be nurtured for unique arrangements.

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