What is a Mandala? • Mandala is a Tibetan word meaning center and circle. It conveys the notion that any center is tied to its circumference and any circumference is always determined by its center. Together they represent wholeness. • Many forms of the Mandala can be found in various cultures around the world. • The Mandala is highly symbolic representations of the religious values specific to a culture.
Known to many cultures • Mandalas have been known to all cultures throughout history. Individual designs vary greatly but they always have the following characteristics: a center, cardinal points that can be contained in a circle, and usually some form of symmetry known as Radial balance. They can be very simple or extremely complex as in ancient Tibetan religious designs, Navajo medicine wheels, and huge stained glass windows in medieval cathedrals are all forms of the mandala.
Radial Designs in Nature Examples of mandalas abound in nature. Every cell in our body, for instance, is a living mandala . . . so is the iris of our eye, a snow crystal, a bird's nest, a bicycle wheel, and Planet Earth.
The Mandala is inspired by the Radial Design found in Nature • Radial balance occurs when the forces or elements of a design come out (radiate) from a central point. Radial balance is a complicated variation of symmetry. Symmetry means only two matching units, designs with radial balance may involve four or more matching units. • Radial balance is where all elements radiate out from a center point in a circular fashion. It is very easy to maintain a focal point in radial balance, since all the elements lead your eye toward the center.
Mandalas • Manadalas are geometric representations of inner visions, usually based on a circular pattern. The creation of a mandala can be entirely a mental (i.e., meditative) process, or it can express itself in the real world as an image, structure, or even a movement as in the dance of the whirling Dervish from the Sufi religion of Turkey.
The purpose of the Mandala • In Tibetan Buddhism, a mandala is an imaginary palace that is contemplated during meditation. Each object in the palace has significance, representing some aspect of wisdom or reminding the meditator of some guiding principle. Tradition dictates the shapes, sizes and colors of these objects. There are many different mandalas, each with different lessons to teach. Most mandalas contain a host of deities as well as inanimate objects. • The creation of sand mandalas date back 2,500 years and was an art once reserved for monks.
The purpose of the Mandala • Mandalas offer a way to engage with the inherent harmony and balance of nature. They bring the principles of nature into our field of awareness. For thousands of years, mandala imagery has served as a means to an expanded way of thinking. The images transcend language and the rational mind. They bring about a certain wisdom of universal knowledge and a deeper understanding of human consciousness.
Construction of a Mandala • Before a monk is permitted to work on constructing a mandala he must undergo a long period of technical artistic training and memorization, learning how to draw all the various symbols and studying related philosophical concepts. At the Namgyal monastery (the personal monastery of the Dalai lama), for example, this period is three years.
Sand Paintings • Mandalas are usually displayed in two dimension, and are commonly made from paper, textiles, and colored sand. In a sand painting the sand is dyed and then carefully placed on the prepared surface grain by grain.
Sand Painting • Mandalas are usually displayed in two dimension, and are commonly made from paper, textiles, and colored sand. In a sand painting the sand is dyed and then carefully placed on a flat surface grain by grain.
Sand Painting . . . monks build the mandala grain by grain
Sand Painting The construction process takes several days, and the mandala is destroyed shortly after its completion. The destruction of the mandala symbolizes the impermanence of life.
Hindu Yantra • In India for those of the Hindu religion the term for their form of Mandala art is Yantra. • A yantra is meditational device used in Hindu and Tibetan Tantric meditation. From the root "yam," meaning "to sustain," the Yantra is a symbolic image used to maintain a focused state during meditation.
Hindu Yantra • Yantra literally means "instrument". A geometric design acting as a highly efficient tool for contemplation, concentration and meditation. Yantras carry spiritual significance, and point the user to higher levels of consciousness. • A yantra is usually composed of an outer geometrical form enclosing an interior geometrical. Each particular design is used for a specific purpose or intent.
Sri Yantra - or Yantra of Creation • Sri Yantra - or Yantra of Creation - is the most revered of all the Hindu yantras. There is a mysterious beauty that arises in the way that nine diverse triangles interlink to form a state of perfect balance and harmony, and the complementation of the yin and yang ~ creating 43 smaller triangles that define the Sri Yantra.
Native American formof the Mandala • In Native American culture the ancestors, pass on a belief that everything in life is circular. We are one within the circle of life. The Medicine Wheel teaches that the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects must be in balance in order to maintain a healthy mind, spirit and body.
Medicine wheel as a structure • A structural Medicine Wheel is made of stones. There were about 20,000 medicine wheels in North America, before the Europeans came. In Native American culture Medicine wheels are places of energy for healing, reflecting, teaching, understanding and for joyous celebrations.
Medicine Wheel – Circle of Life • The medicine wheel is sacred to the native people, they believe, because the Great Spirit caused everything in nature to be round. The Sun, Sky, Earth and Moon are round. It is the symbol of the circle that marks the edge of the world and therefore, the Four Winds that travel there. It is also the symbol of the year.
Medicine Wheel • It is the symbol of the circle that marks the edge of the world and therefore, the Four Winds that travel there. It is also the symbol of the year.
The Rose Windows • The Rose Windows of the Gothic era exemplify the radiance of spirit perceived by medieval architects. Among the grandest developments of the European creative mind, these elaborate craft works represent a sacred concept of completeness and balance. • It is generally accepted that the origin of illustrative glass work within European religious structures dates back to the late 800s. Actual surviving samples are very rare. Some pieces found in French and German abbeys have been dated to the ninth and tenth centuries.
The Circle as a symbolacross cultures • Many ancient civilizations of the world left stone memorials as a perpetual testimony to their culture. The pyramids of Egypt, the giant stone circles and monuments of Stonehenge and the grand temples and lost cities of Central and South America are well known tourist attractions today and are examples of the creativity and dexterity of early civilizations.
Representationsof theMandalatake many forms: • 2D design • 3D structure • in the dance of the whirling dervish from the Turkish Sufi religion
Summary of the Mandala • Religious & Spiritual in function and source for inspiration • Exists in different cultures around the world. • Symbolic of the interconnectedness of all things related to a culture’s particular belief system. • The mandala is used as a source to bring focused concentration or elevation toward the divine as perceived in various religious belief systems. • A Radial Design • Radiating outward from a central point. • Involves a complicated variation of symmetry. • Radial balance occurs frequently in nature.
The Mandala ProjectStudents will draw from cultural and historical references as inspiration for the project • Students will begin by writing a poem expressing your sense of self: Not what others think Not how others see you Who you think you are • Symbols should communicate ideas and values specific to the individual’s poem on self identify. • Select an analogous color scheme to communicate the essence of your poem in your mandala.
Starting with reflection • Students will create a personal poem about their sense of self. • http://www.bartleby.com/155/7.html • http://www.beyondbooks.com/lit71/1f.asp
The Mandala ProjectStudents will draw from cultural and historical references as inspiration for the project • Students will create a mandala displaying radial balance. (In Radial balance all elements radiate out from a center point in a circular fashion. Students found it very easy to maintain a focal point using radial balance, since all the elements lead your eye toward the center). • Student will a ruler to measure and a compass to draw concentric rings, then divided in separate spaces to create a radial design exhibiting symmetry. • Symbols should communicate ideas and values specific to the individual’s poem on self identify (intent) for the mandala. You can create a mandala to help you focus on a particular goal to inspire peace in those who view the mandala. • Students will choose an analagous color scheme that communicates the purpose for the mandala, then set out to paint the individual sections and symbols using blending and layering to color pencil to create their mandala.
Respond to the following questions in your visual journal A What is a Mandala? B Who created the Mandalas of ancient Tibet? C What common goal or function does the Mandala serve within a variety of cultures? D Identify three characteristics of a Mandala:Does some form of the Mandala exist in most cultures? E Identify four cultures exhibiting their own unique version of Mandala. F Is your understanding of religious/spiritually inspired works from other societies enhanced when presented in context with their religious beliefs? G How do various societies use art as a form of religious expression? H Is it important to you to express your religious/spiritual beliefs in your artwork?