Japanese Ikebana is a complex and sculptural artform which I adore. There are many styles and schools of ikebana, which were originally founded by Buddhist priests in the 15th century and were exclusively the formalized pastime of aristocrats and priests. Ikebana has always been about an expression of the beauty of nature. The older style using seven branches representing natural land formations like valleys and hills. Later in the late 17th century, a simpler style, shoka evolved. Shoka uses only three main branches, known as ten (heaven), chi (earth) and jin (man) and is designed to show the beauty of the plant itself. In the 1930's interest in ikebana became widespread, thousands of schools opened and the artform spread abroad. Today Ikebana in Japan is practised by about 15 million people. Ikebana can be divided into two styles - the moribana shallow vase style and the nageire tall vase style. I enjoy Ikebana the most when branches and large seed pods are incorporated, but this picture is absolutely breathtaking. Click here for more about the artform of Ikebana.