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Creation and Destruction of Sand Mandalas


"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.


(images via)


Here is the Medicine Buddha Mandala, built by the Namgyal Monastery monks in Moscow in May 2002:



(image credit: centre.smr.ru)


It all starts with the lifeless void... the empty canvas:




Then the "master plan" is etched on the blue surface:


(images credit: Sergey Maximishin)


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.



(image credit: Oleg Bartunov)


Some mandalas (such as the Mandala Kalachakra, the "Wheel of Time") display as many as 700 various deities inside their intricate pattern.





Cups of various mandala offerings:




Almost done! -




(images courtesy: Ackland Art Museum and Sergey Maximishin, via)


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.

Here is the Kalachakra Sand Mandala:


(image via)


And here's a Mandala dedicated to the world peace and cooperation between countries (Mandala Kalachakra):


(image credit: Oleg Bartunov)


(Almost) Natural Ritual of Destruction

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.


(image credit: Sergey Maximishin)



Finally all the sand is deposited in a body of water. "This process symbolizes the transience of life and the ideal of non-attachment to the material world".



Article by Avi Abrams, Dark Roasted Blend.


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YOUR COMMENTS::

3 Comments:

Blogger Theodosia said...

Fairly recently, there were monks constructing a mandala in a Midwest airport... and a toddler who got away from his mother came and kicked his way through it! I can just imagine how mortified she must have been, but it sounds like the monks handled it gracefully and philosophically.

___  
Blogger Avi Abrams said...

haha... yes, peace of mind is the whole idea.

___  
Anonymous kcav8or said...

The toddler "attack" occurred at Union Station in Kansas City, MO. I used to work across the street and watched the monks construct these several times.

They use long, hollow metal sticks with ridges. They rub wooden sticks across the ridges to coax the sand out a grain at a time.

___  

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