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AUGUST 2023/ THE SIXTH SENSE: ATTENTION

Shōzō Satō, Rikka Fukyu no Shin

 

INTRO

The five senses have traditionally been established as functions of the body.  They are so functional, that we don’t even try to use them.  There are many times that we use our senses without truly taking in the experience they provide us.  A classic example is when you find yourself returning from a thought only to notice that you have actually been staring at an odd part of a wall, or the door frame, or a gash in the linoleum, without realizing.  Therefore, we propose (along with the American naturalist, Obi Kaufmann) that there is a sixth sense called Attention.  Attention is the convening of multiple senses that results in a new experience.  Attention gives a purpose to the other five senses to then create a new openness in how we define the experience.  To take in the aroma of wine you will of course use your olfactory system, but you will also use your sense of sight to take in the color, shine, and texture of the wine.  Combining smell and sight as you tip the glass toward your nose brings you more than just technical terms, but also memory and emotion.  You are giving attention to something and that is a gift.
One practice that uses visual attention in a deep way is the ancient Japanese way of arranging flowers called ikebana.  Ikebana brings a quiet attention to the art of flower arranging in order to create scenes that represent everything from a local landscape, to the seasons, to the entire universe.  Flowers that mean one thing in a garden or field begin to take on new meaning as they are paired with others, twisted into a new shape, and put in a particular vase. Ikebana teaches us that we the artist, we the seer, hold the power to transform flowers from their biological state to their spiritual state by giving deep and loving attention to them.   
This month, we are exploring the sixth sense of attention and using ikebana as our guide.  There are more articles inside this book that explain ikebana in more depth and how attention is so embedded in the practice.  Through ikebana we hope to impart some new practices in attention toward wine drinking.  
This practice has also inspired us to create a different type of Club Caravan experience for you.  You will find in your August package the following:
  • 1 bottle of Suertes del Marques, Medianias de la Orotava

  • 1 item from our Market

  • Stones

  • Acorns

  • 1 small flower arrangement by Fields & Flora

These items are here to help you build your own ikebana scene.  Take a moment to choose a location for your bottle where it can be displayed and aesthetically appreciated- not just stored.  The location might be selected because it gives you the most opportunity to interact with it.  It might be chosen because of the lighting.  You will know it when you see it.   Use the other objects to create an arrangement/ sculpture/ scene/ altar in the chosen location.  This arrangement should be pleasing for you to look at and should allow you (and your artistic collaborator if you choose) to have a conversation about balance and harmony.  What is in balance in your life?  When does being off balance feel right? The best ikebana arrangements tell a story about the universe and the artist simultaneously.  
Notice the new meaning that these objects take on as they become united.  This is the gift of attention!  Feel free to add other personal objects and touches as you feel inspired.  Once you find a sense of peace in your arrangement, take a photo.  In modern ikebana, photography has become an equally important character as it gives these arrangements a personality chosen by the artist, bringing a new level of attention to the piece.  If you are feeling generous, please email us (lenora@caravanwineshop.com) a photo of your arrangement with your name, title, and date.  We are hoping to create a small gallery of this work (date and location tbd). We encourage you to keep photographing your arrangement as it naturally changes: wine is drunk, food is eaten, flowers die…
What remains? What meaning is left? What story is told over time?
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“All things are permitted to be all things.  Secrets are revealed, and in our sense- making, we are also making sense.  We learn that the rivers do not flow over the earth, but the earth moves under the still water.  The horizon is a circle of beings holding hands, and your death is their death, and both are illusion.  At the great confluence there is one sense, and its name is attention.” 
Obi Kaufmann, Forward: Eight Conversations in Punk Ikebana by Louesa Roebuck
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Shōzō Satō, Seika Semiformal arrangement, Small Lilies and Japanese Maple

 

 

TRADITIONAL IKEBANA

 

“When branches, flowers, and grasses are cut, they must be put in water to make them last longer.  This basic understanding- that plants need water to be sustained- was recognized centuries ago.  Therein lies the beginnings of Ikebana art.” Shōzō Satō
 
Let’s start this journey by pouring a glass from our bottle of Suertes de Marques.  Take it in slowly allowing all of your senses a chance to be there.  These first sips of wine will initiate the beginning of the story of ikebana. 
 
To understand ikebana, you must first understand Japan’s relationship with nature.  Geographically, Japan has a temperate climate and experiences all four seasons.  Their indigenous religion, Shinto, is a worship to all of nature where every living thing is deified creating no separation between object and spirit.  Buddhism then arrives in the 6th century and coexists with Shinto, often overlapping and blending like light on water.  Also based on the laws of nature, both of these religions celebrate all life as a temporary experience to be honored.  These beliefs are the foundation of ikebana.  As soon as the arrangement is created, it begins to die, and may be gone within a matter of hours.  It is a practice in aesthetic attention, both for the artist and the audience.  
 
Throughout ikebana’s long history, many different forms and schools have emerged.  Similar to studying the history of any art form, we see a medium explored slowly over time, changing shape with the ebb and flow of life.  Rikka is the earliest form of ikebana with no true date of birth (but perhaps as early as the 1300s).  It is thought to have originated with the leaving of flowers on Buddhist altars.  This offering developed into vases to make the flowers stand vertically like they do in the ground.  However, Rikka took this simple concept and ran.  The Rikka style is known for its flamboyance, depicting an idealized beauty and paradise.  Flowers were used less to reveal their innate beauty and more as a way of depicting scenes of the cosmos and transcending the earthly world.   Rikka arrangements became staples in palaces, increasing in grandeur, size, and rules of design. 
Not long after Rikka became the dominant style in ikebana, Japan experienced a change in leadership.  The warrior class, who were once palace guards, gained power and established the samurai class and became feudal lords throughout the country.  This majorly impacted the art scene as it shifted from extravagant displays of wealth and beauty to work more influenced by Zen Buddhism.  This  gave rise to the Nageire style of ikebana or the “throw in style”, which allowed flowers to fall naturally into the vase rather than be manipulated into positions using shafts and peeling open petals which we see in Rikka.  Nageire is used to achieve oneness with the universe by honoring nature as it honestly exists, while Rikka controlled the universe, creating its image as organized, formal, and overwhelmingly beautiful.   Both styles were especially popular throughout the 1600s, existing simultaneously like yin and yang.  
 
A blend of both Rikka and Nagiere emerged about 100 years after their heyday that furthers ikebanas evolution toward the present form. Seika, meaning fresh flowers, used the simplicity and small variation of flowers that we see in Nageire, but also allowed for manipulation of stems, branches, and petals that was introduced in Rikka.  Most importantly, Seika brings with it a new area of attention- the empty space.  In a Seika design, the empty space is considered both within the arrangement and in the space that surrounds it.  
 
It is the impermanence of ikebana that makes attention so reverent.  To acknowledge the short interaction we will have with something inherently creates attention; conjuring all of our senses to bow to the object/ spirit of which we are beholden.  It is this attention that allows an arrangement to transform from a grouping of flowers to a scene of the cosmos.  Or the space between objects creating their own planes, lines, and masses.  Traditional ikebana shows us that to give attention to objects is to deify them and to feel their spirit.  And through this practice we are able to know these objects more deeply, more emotionally, and with respect.  
We can apply this same type of attention to our wine bottle displays.  How do the objects interact with each other? How does the whole arrangement interact with your space?  How does the ephemerality of the wine, food, and flowers ask for your attention over time?

Wagner Kreusch, Amaryllis, Fritillary, Protea

Suertes del Marques
Medianias de la Orotava

SPAIN, Canary Islands, Tenerife
grapes: Listan Negro, Vijariego Negro, Tintilla
abv: 12.7%
winemaker: Jonatan Garcia Lima
 
The Canary Islands are an autonomous community of Spain, located 70 miles west off the coast of Africa. Today most of the wine never leaves the islands and is consumed by the many tourists who visit throughout the year. Historically, it is thanks to the naval trade routes during the 15th century that helped lead to the wine region's popularity. Situated at a sub-tropical latitude, the islands are able to grow grapes alongside things like bananas. The island of Tenerife is home to several volcanoes, specifically Mount Teide, which is the highest point in Spain and the third largest volcano in the world and has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
 
At Suertes del Marques, winemaker Jonatan Garcia Lima works with very old vines (up to 200+ years!) that are all ungrafted and on original (pre-phylloxera) root stock. Much like the slopes of Burgundy in France, the hills on Tenerife are each designated with different qualities and given specific names. The name Medianias refers to the area over 600 metres high in the Orotava Valley.
 
Jonatan maintains the historic method of pruning known as Cordon Trenzado, or, the braided cord. The branches that come from the mother trunk are left to grow and are braided together to form 10-20 meter long cordons. Traditionally, this method of pruning allowed for the vine branches to be moved easily to utilize the earth below for growing potatoes, which were once a staple of the island inhabitants. This method of growing also makes mechanical harvesting impossible.
All processes in the vineyard as well as the winery are carried out by hand with minimal intervention. Indigenous yeasts are used to carry out a natural fermentation in concrete tanks. 8 months of aging occurs in large 500 litre French oak foudres. The wine is then bottled with minimal sulfite additions. These wines have a unique terroir stamp of textures and aromatics, filled with a finesse and mineral backbone with a bit of salinity provided by the volcanic soils.
 
This is a wine that can certainly benefit from at least a 10 minute decant, either in your glass or a larger decanter. We're including a classic food pairing of Spanish Ropa Vieja with Garbanzos. You can make this and have an outstanding afternoon or evening. Other things that could pair well would be lamb, stir-fried vegetables, baked potatoes, or some simple charcuterie and cheese.

Shōzō Satō, Moribana Style, Pussy Willow Branches, Catkins, and Yellow Chrysanthemums

MODERN IKEBANA

“I use my imagination before thinking about the tradition and then create arrangements.”
Hayato Nishiyama
 
Now, pour your next glass.  How much time has passed?  Even if it has only been moments, do you sense a change in the wine?  Perhaps the change is as small as the light changing in the room.  This is now a new experience.  The incremental changes in the second glass of wine will represent the style changes throughout the history of ikebana.  Some so small that they went unnoticed unless you were paying attention.
 
The line between traditional and modern ikebana was drawn in the mid 1800s when the Tokugawa shogunate, which had been in power for two and a half centuries, was overthrown in favor of restoring an emperor in Japan.  This was not only significant because there had been almost no internal warfare under this shogunate, but mainly because it ended Japan’s seclusion from the rest of the world.  The west had been transforming with industrial and intellectual revolutions, and Japan would prove to catch up quickly.  
With its doors now open, the West began influencing everything from economics to art, but because flower arranging had no comparable western counterpart, ikebana was able to resist much outside effect.  In the 1900s, ikebana saw the first foreign flowers being used in arrangements, and a new school, Moribana, began to grow.  Moribana means “mass of flowers” and this concept was displayed through the use of shallow containers.  Branches and stems were placed even more freely than Seika using a new innovation called a kenzan- a bed of nails which impaled branches and stems to keep them upright and seemingly growing out of the glass or ceramic shallow base.  The use of the word “free” is interesting at this point; freedom in Moribana refers more to the freedom an artist has to place flowers rather than the freedom the flower has to rest as seen more in the Nageire style.
As in any great artform, an attainment of skill leads to new questions of purpose which inevitably leads to abstraction.  Ikebana experienced the same rite of passage during the 1920s and it carries through to today.  Jiyu-ka (free flowers) and Zen’ei- ka (avant- garde flowers) release the flowers from vases and even stems allowing more human made objects to become incorporated into the arrangement.  Sofu Teshigahara, a pioneer in modern ikebana and founder of the Sogetsu school in 1927, used metal, glass, and plastic in his ikebana arrangements pushing ikebana toward abstract sculpture and installation art.  
In the 1950s ikebana really found a home in the west with the help of American Ellen Gordon Allen, who became introduced to the artform while her husband was serving in the Korean war.  Throughout the 20th century, the rules that had once nurtured ikebana withered away, and now you might even find some ikebana arrangements that contain no flowers at all, and rely entirely on the status of the artist as an ikebana master to categorize their sculptures as ikebana.  However, abstract designers are still concerned with the aesthetic outcome and maintain a sense of ikebana as the form continues to expand.  
Modernizing an ancient and timeless ritual does not mean an undoing, but evolving.  If anything, the most historically traditional element of ikebana is that it has always pushed boundaries.  You can see that the reverence for nature is the sustaining factor across centuries but the relationship to nature has changed over time.  Opening the practice of ikebana to the world, and using all the flora that this planet provides, diversifies the look of arrangements, but also augments the meaning and symbolism of the flowers as one plant may represent something different in each culture.
What modern ikebana brings attention to is intention.  It takes arrangements beyond an aesthetic experience, beyond a unification with the universe through focus and meditation.  The attention on intention and meaning given to ikebana by modern artists feels like looking at the empty spaces between flowers in a Seika arrangement.  It is where the story lies, and currently, in our digitally driven, intangible society, we have sparse opportunities for attention, or at least long form attention.  Modern ikebana artists use this form as a way to comment on the increasing destruction of the natural world through their flower arrangements.  They continue to demonstrate the delicate cord that keeps us connected to nature and now allows for more objects, both recognizable and abstract, to interact with the flowers in this communication. 
When giving attention to your own arrangement, what meaning can you find by placing certain objects next to each other?  Does a story reveal itself?  Is the story about you or the world?  What’s the difference?

 

Emma Weaver, TBC BDSM

 

Azuma Makoto, Botannical Sculptures- Frozen Flowers

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Our aim is to give a glimpse into the many roles wine has played throughout history.  All subjects mentioned deserve more attention and research and we encourage you to keep exploring.  We are only here to pop the cork.
Many Thanks, Caravan Wine Shop

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