Sand Mandalas: An Exploration in Religious Beauty

Sand Mandalas: An Exploration in Religious Beauty

Sand Mandalas: An Exploration in Religious Beauty

If you're like me, you've been binge-watching House of Cards over the course of the three-day American weekend. And, if you're also like me, you were completely intrigued by the beautiful sand mandala creation by the Tibetan monks in the White House during Episode 7. Though Frank and Claire Underwood do not have time to appreciate the work, I decided to research more into the beautiful tradition.

The Sand Mandala is a Tibetan Buddhist tradition that involves the creation and destruction of intricate works of sand art. Today, mandalas are created with bright colors of sand; historically, however, mandalas were created with granules of crushed colored stone. The sand today starts as white stones ground down and dyed with opaque inks.

Before any sand is crafted on the mandala, the monks outline the geometric shapes they wish to follow with the sand. Then, the sand is applied using small tubes, funnels, and scrapers, called chak-pur, until the desired pattern is achieved.

Due to the large amount of work involved in creating these mandalas, they usually take weeks to complete. Multiple monks work on the mandala at one time, and start from the center and work outwards.

The main theme surrounding mandalas is portraying a 3D environment in 2D form, often showing representations of the lives of several deities in one piece. Depending on the breadth of the story of the mandala being worked on, the geometry will be more or less complex.

At the end of the House of Cards episode, the sand mandala is ceremoniously destroyed.  This is characteristic of all sand mandala creations. Deity symbols are removed in a specific order, as well as the other geometric shapes. The sand is then collected in a jar, wrapped in silk, then transported to a river. The monks put the sand back in the water as a symbol of the ephemerality of life.


KATE IS AN 19-YEAR-OLD MILLENNIAL WHO ATTENDS NEW YORK UNIVERSITY AND HAS EXTENSIVE KNOWLEDGE IN JOURNALISM, MEDIA, AND COMMUNICATIONS. AS FOUNDER AND CEO OF  HER CULTURE, SHE HAS SPEARHEADED MULTIPLE PROJECTS, DEVELOPED PROGRAMS FOR CULTURAL AWARENESS, AND HAS RECEIVED SEVERAL ACCOLADES FOR HER CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE COMMUNITY. KATE WAS RECENTLY SELECTED AS ONE OF BUSINESS INSIDER'S "24 MOST IMPRESSIVE HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATES" IN 2014. SHE IS ALSO A MEMBER OF THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF PROFESSIONAL WOMEN AND THE INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S PEACE ORGANIZATION.


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