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Grass Moon Master

At 6:30 one morning last week a short, gnomelike figure dressed in a cream-colored coat, grey flannels and sneakers darted through the dew-drenched shrubbery of Paris' Bois de Boulogne. He paused to stare reflectively at a lush hydrangea bush, then hurried on to pick up a dead limb, a handful of dead leaves and a piece of old oak bark. To startled park gardeners an official explained: "That gentleman is a famous Japanese flower arranger, Monsieur Sofu."

By afternoon the results of visiting Flower Arranger Sofu's harvest were ready for display in Paris' Bagatelle chateau. Withered leaves on a dead branch suspended from the ceiling had become a mobile titled Dance of the Dying Leaves; tiger lilies, hydrangeas and irises blended into a scarlet-and-gold Japanese Landscape; a moss-covered oak branch was part of a tableau, On the Edge of the Lake.

Picasso of Flowers. Such works have made Sofu Teshigahara, 54, "the Picasso of flowers" in his native Japan. Sofu has broken all the rules of the centuries-old flower-arranging art known as ikebana. His innovations leave Japanese critics torn between a fear that ikebana is getting its death blow and admiration for a technique which, commented a leading Japanese art critic, "boggles the eyes and stuns the senses."

The son of a famous flower arranger known professionally as Wafu (Gentle Breeze), young Teshigahara was arranging flowers at four, at 14 often replaced his father in classes, as a teen-ager plowed through the Chinese classics. But at 26, Teshigahara, who had chosen as his ikebana name Sofu (Cool Green Breeze), decided to strike out on his own. What Sofu did was as shocking to the classicists as pounding out madrigals to a boogie-woogie beat. The central canon of ikebana for centuries has been Ten-Chi-Jin (Heaven-Earth-Man), where heaven is symbolized by the tall central flower, man by a medium branch placed at the side, and earth by the shortest branch, placed before the heaven branch. From this came the rikka (standing) and the nage-ire (thrown in) styles.

Young Sofu began by calling his new approach the Grass Moon School, often dispensed with such traditional props as water vases and bamboo tubes, using instead a tiny flower or bud stuck in an empty lipstick container, the cap off a toothpaste tube or an empty perfume bottle. Sofu even went so far as to dye flowers, incorporate red bird feathers, use dried grass, withered leaves and dead flowers. A current popular Sofu arrangement: a dead lotus pod with a purple delphinium.

For 6,000 Wives. Sofu's revolution was just beginning to win converts when World War II put an end to such civilized luxuries as flower exhibitions. Sofu kept on practicing his art in private; then the B-29s which knocked out Tokyo demolished the Grass Moon School building. Sofu's postwar comeback owed much to Mrs. Douglas MacArthur, who, Sofu says, "had a good basic understanding of the nature of Japanese flower arrangement." Some 6,000 U.S. occupation-force wives took up Sofu's style; about 400 of them earned the Grass Moon certificate, are qualified to teach the art in Hawaii and the U.S.

Today Sofu's books on flower arranging sell as fast as they come off the presses. A Sofu exhibit at Tokyo's Takashimaya department store earlier this year sold 35,000 admission tickets in advance. With some half-million followers in Japan making up Japan's second largest flower arranging school,* Sofu now thinks he can afford to ignore the criticism of traditionalists who grumble that "Sofu has taken the soul out of ikebana." In reply Sofu simply quotes his own Grass Moon motto: "Always look forward to a fresh and vivid world and do not become buried in retrospection."

*Largest: the Ikenobo (Priest's Pond) school, founded in 1525 A.D., with 4,000,000 followers.

Monday, Jul. 11, 1955 By HP-Time.com

Категория: Что пишут газеты | Добавил: ikebana (15.09.2008)
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