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Iwagumi Style (Explained)

Discussion in 'General Aquascaping and Planted Tank Discussions' started by John N., Nov 4, 2010.

  1. John N.

    John N. Administrator Staff Member

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    Most of us know what an Iwagumi is just by looking at one.

    But what really defines an Iwagumi layout? What are the principles to follow and guidelines for design?

    -John N.
     
  2. Jurijs mit JS

    Jurijs mit JS Admin Staff Member

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    For me Iwagumi means a stone layout with almost narrow and only few species of plants.
    No real Guidelines, maybe for classic Chanzon Iwagumi, but all other stone arrangements are Iwagumis too and somehow there is always a main stone (the biggest one) and supporting stones (the smaller ones).
     
  3. ianho

    ianho Aspiring Aquascaper

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    Iwagumi to me, means 'odd' numbers. When i say that, i mean odd numbered amount of stones, odd numbered amount of plants, ie 1 or 3 types.

    Most of all Iwagumi is the golden rule 1.6.

    So, Iwagumi really means its all about the numbers.
     
  4. HiDef

    HiDef New Member

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    I think the things to concentrate on is stone arrangement. Iwagumi should consist of a main stone, sub stone/s finished with smaller stones. You start with the main stone and work from there.

    Balance should be considered when arranging the stones also.

    I think many try to imagine if there were water flow how would it affect the angle and positioning of the stones in the arrangement.

    Maybe what defines Iwagumi is the coming together of all aspects?

    My thoughts
     
  5. Xavier

    Xavier ASW Sponsor

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    Forget rules, forget the golden ratio, forget everything you think you know about Iwagumi for just a second.

    What is Iwagumi?

    Iwagumi is a philosophy.

    Now, with that core, intrinsic principle, let's bring back what is emphasized the most - the golden ratio, odd numbers of stones, et cetera. These are very, very basic measurements of understanding as far as Iwagumi goes. Yes, you absolutely need to have a handle on these to successfully make an Iwagumi. Why? you need to know the golden ratio to at first locate the focal points to place the most emphasis in your rock arrangement. Why odd numbers? because odd numbers in, most notably, Asian cultures, is considered to look natural. Even numbers are a representation of order, basically the hand of man.

    However, these are just basic, good fundamentals for aquascaping at large - and of course play a strong role in Iwagumi.

    But why philosophy? Iwagumi is just a name, what the real aim is for is to create a representation that illicits a kind of emotional response, usually that results in deeper inner thinking or a meditative kind of state - which also explains why "mountain scapes" or things of the sort aren't mutually exclusive of Iwagumi, whether you follow a classic stone arrangement style or the more literal representation of idealized nature, you're still attempting to reach that same effect. Most popularly this is done through the representation of an idealized picture of a fictional nature (or rather the nature that exists in our minds...kind of an oxymoron to "it looks natural" really) - i.e. the Nature Aquarium style adaptation.

    So, you could then argue that Iwagumi is a literal translation of the artist's inner reflection at the moment of creation (oh my god, it's art!). We can draw vague inspiration from natural scenary, from mental states, from simple rock arrangement until we find something that just looks right in our minds.

    But without philosophy there is no Iwagumi. An Iwagumi without philosophy is simply a random arrangement of stone that 'looks' cool (or more often than not, for some reason just never looks right). It's just a pile of rock. Inner meaning is what gives Iwagumi impact. And a badass pile of stones to choose from usually helps.
     
  6. J House

    J House Moderator Staff Member

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    Great post. I always said inventory is key. If you can make a 5 stone iwagumi from just 5 rocks then you really are a badass!
     
  7. ianho

    ianho Aspiring Aquascaper

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    ^^hahahaha, thats a even better post.
     
  8. Anti-Pjerrot

    Anti-Pjerrot New Member

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    Hellyeah - I don't even think I can make a 3 stone Iwagumi out of 15 rocks :)
     
  9. fishman9809

    fishman9809 New Member

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    chuck norris can make a 15 stone iwagumi out of 3 rocks ;)
     
  10. John N.

    John N. Administrator Staff Member

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    It's really interesting to see the interpretations to what an Iwagumi layout is.

    Xavier, great post and I couldn't agree with it more. Aquascaping, whether it's Dutch-style layouts, Nature Aquarium Style layouts, Iwagumi, Ikebana, Wabi-kusa etc all started with a concept and philosophy. From there guidelines formed, and unfortunately as time goes on we often forget the original purpose of a layout and are more focused on the "rules".

    For the new comers to the hobby, can anyone post a few examples of Iwagumi layout's you've done or seen the encompasses the philosophy and rules of an Iwagumi layout?

    -John N.
     
  11. J House

    J House Moderator Staff Member

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    In addtion, now with this Minimalist movement, what is the defintiion of a Minimalist Iwagumi? Is it one without a full foregound or a very limited number of stems/plants.
     
  12. Xavier

    Xavier ASW Sponsor

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    A minimalist iwagumi / layout is simply just using the least amount of material possible necessary to achieve the greatest impact / fulfillment of the idea as possible.
     
  13. ianho

    ianho Aspiring Aquascaper

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    this is my take on Iwagumi (first attempt, so don't be to hard), its also a nano.

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