Ikebana meets fidel
Ikebana, Japanese floral art meets fidel, Amharic writing system. Sounds exciting? Read on…
Ikebana has been mutually inspired by different art forms. One of the sources for inspiration has been writing systems. Since ikebana has its origins in China and Japan, the rich and beautiful writing system, kanji, was probably among the first inspirations.
Nowadays, ikebana has become truly international, which means that it is constantly encountering new inspirations and new influences.
Since my job is in the field of linguistics, it is natural for me to be attracted by different writing systems. Living in Ethiopia opens up a new world of creativity connected to the local writing system.
The Amharic alphabet is actually a syllabary since in the graphic system consonants are always combined with a vowel. This system is called in Amharic “fidel” which means “letter”. The system has 33 consonants which combine with 7 vowels each. Look at the example for writing syllables starting with a letter M:
If you are interested in this syllabary find our more about it, for example – here.
Fidel, like other writing systems, gives ample space for creativity. It is found in different types of fonts. Some artists play with this potential. For example Wosene Kosrof has a series of thought-provoking paintings using fidel.
Ikebana is often made to complement different types of art works including calligraphy. If you want to see some examples, buy the pdf of my book Ikebana – the way of flowers. In addition to basic information about ikebana, you can find examples of ikebana complementing calligraphy, paintings, butoh dance and even music from operas in the book.
Fidel on a paper vase
The inspiration for the ikebana in a paper vase was found on one of the craft markets in Addis Abeba. This wonderful form is made by recycling Amharic newspaper. It is quite sturdy. However, in order to have ikebana in it I had to place a little vase containing water in it.
I am looking forward to exploring this writing system in depth.