"QUANTUM SHOT" #240(rev) Link - article by Avi Abrams
Art Reflecting the Sanctity & Transience of Our Lives
Creation (and the subsequent destruction) of Sand Mandalas is the sacred ancient tradition of highly detailed art, practiced by Buddhist monks in Tibet. With a rare dedication and utmost care they spend days constructing an intricate masterpiece out of many-colored grains of sand - then they sanctify it and (quite profoundly) demolish it in a similarly prayerful and dedicated fashion.
Traditionally, only finely-ground colored stones were used, not dyed sand:
Extreme care is needed here, and plenty of time is required - sometimes weeks (even if a whole team of monks works on it!). Mandala construction is often seen as a two-dimensional representation of our three-dimensional environment - somehow altering the "world-lines" of our real world, enhancing the harmony and definitions within.
We also recommend this site which shows the 30-day creation of a five-and-a-half foot Medicine Buddha sand mandala in Ackland's Yager Gallery of Asian Art (by the Ven. Tenzin Thutop and the Ven. Tenzin Deshek - two Buddhist monks from the Namgyal Monastery in Ithaca, New York). The Mandala was created from February 26, 2001 through March 21, 2001 as part of the exhibition Buddhist Art and Ritual from Nepal and Tibet. (The exhibition and its related programs have now ended, and these pages can only be accessed through Internet Archive's "Wayback Machine" now - see here)
Another mandala creation (day-by-day process) can be observed here.
After sanctification of Mandala, the monks proceed to demolish it. The de-construction at times seem highly structured (every deity is demolished in certain order) and sometimes chaotic (if mandala is placed in high-traffic areas, people who pass by and bystanders are encouraged to step on random parts, introducing an element of chance). Plus exposure to the elements adds to its entirely natural decay.
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