I first learned the word, ma in The Japanese Mind, edited by Davies, Roger and Ikeno, Osamu. There, it is defined as “an empty space full of meaning”, which is fundamental to the Japanese arts and present in many fields of artistic endeavor (p38 Kindle version).
The hidden meaning is sought as one holds the floral materials when making an Ikebana arrangement.
The “more” is just that: initially unseen meaning apparent from employing minimalism and ma in our designs. Just as one reads “between the lines” in a text, one can experience meaning in the unoccupied space of a minimalist arrangement.
(I shared these concepts at a recent demonstration and workshop for Ikebana International #41.We used only orchids for the floral material to illustrate the variety in one compelling plant type. Attendees brought their own newly purchased orchid plant and cut the blooms (with much anguish) to use in their arrangements.That event informs the theme of this blog post.)
What Ikebana is Not.
Ma makes minimalism possible. It is the pauses when we speak, the quiet time with a cup of tea, and the silence between notes in music. The Hindustan Times newspaper printed an interview with the current headmaster of the Ohara School who spoke of ma: “One of the finest cultural aspects of Japan is enjoying emptiness.” http://tinyurl.com/lfn9ea3
More is not One-Dimensional
Demonstration Attendees' Minimalist Arrangements with ma and More.
A Poetic View of Ma.
Here is an ancient poem about the meaning of MA:
Thirty spokes meet in the hub,
though the space between them is the essence of the wheel.
Pots are formed from clay,
though the space inside them is the essence of the pot.
Walls with windows and doors form the house,
though the space within them is the essence of the house.