Humans throughout history have used art as a bridge between their emotions and the outer world. It is the projection of their inner experience with all its complexities and magnificence. One of the popular art forms is the Mandala. Tourists who travel to India notice the beautiful geometrical designs on the walls and the ceilings of temples. Those images are “mandala” which literally translates to “circle” in Sanskrit.
In their most basic form, mandalas are circles contained within a square and arranged into sections that are all organized around a central point. They’re typically produced on paper or cloth, or drawn on surfaces.
Mandala is a spiritual and ritual symbol in Hinduism and Buddhism and one of their most iconic artworks. Buddhists produced it in Tibet, India, Nepal, China, Japan, Bhutan, and Indonesia. It dates from the 4th century to the present. These mandalas are highly complex paintings with captivating details and rich colors. However, For Hindus and Buddhists, they are more than artistic designs. A mandala represents a symbol of an ideal universe.
What Is The Significance Of Mandala Designs?
In most cultures, the circle is a symbol of unity, wholeness, and oneness. It also symbolizes the womb, motherhood, and nurturing.
Mandalas are interpreted in two ways: external and internal. Externally it is a visual representation of the universe. The circular designs symbolize the completion and infinity of life. Then there is the dot or the center which is seen as the starting point from which everything begins. The dot is surrounded by different geometrical shapes and patterns symbolizing the connection of the different systems in the universe.
The mandala could also have an internal meaning. For instance, it could represent the spiritual journey of the individual and his inner life. In other words, Mandalas show the unity of the cosmos and how everyone fits in it as a connected system.
In Hinduism and Buddhism, the belief is that by moving towards its center, you are going through a transformative process that brings healing into your life.
Different Mandala Types
The Lotus: The lotus flower has a deep significance in Asian cultures. Buddhists view it as a symbol of detachment from the materialistic world and living a more spiritual life. Buddha said that the lotus is an example of how the dirt of the body can not burden the soul just like the lotus that floats on water.
The Elephant: It symbolizes great power and strength. First, there is the grey elephant, which is a sign of the mind that should not be distracted by the suffering, while the white elephant represents the state of true enlightenment that is achieved through mindful meditation.
The Flower Of Life: It features complex geometric designs. These designs trace back to Northern Africa and Mesopotamia. Modern users believe that it is a sacred geometric shape that promotes focus and concentration during meditation.
The Circle: They are the most common form of Mandala and the easiest to draw.
The Different Uses And Types of Mandala:
There are various types of mandala art in Asian cultures, here are some common types that serve different purposes:
1.Teaching Mandala: Teaching mandalas are symbolic, and each shape and color represents a different aspect of a philosophical or religious system. For instance, the student creates their own mandala projecting a visual symbolization of everything they have learned. Teaching mandala designs serve as mental maps for their creators.
2.Sand Mandala: Buddhist monks have long used sand mandalas as a traditional, religious element. These designs use a variety of symbols made from colored sand that represent the impermanence of human life.
The construction of this mandala begins with a ceremony in which the monks consecrate the site and call forth forces of goodness through chants and music. Then, over the course of ten days, the monks will pour colored sand. Shortly after its completion, the monks will disperse the sand to symbolize the impermanence of existence.
3.Healing Mandala: Healing mandala designs are made for the purpose of meditation. Evidently, they evoke calmness and enhance concentration to silence disturbing thoughts and anxiety. In modern days, mandalas have become a popular symbol of meditation used for appreciating the beauty of nature and forming a connection with oneself.
Mandala in Psychology:
The primary use of mandala art is as a form of meditation to gain knowledge from within. Moreover, Buddhists believe that meditating on mandala brings profound inner transformation. Whenever their minds wander with thoughts, they bring their focus back to the center. They believe that the beauty of this geometrical design should absorb their full attention. So this kind of meditation gives more relaxation and centeredness.
Carl Jung, a popular Swiss psychoanalyst, was the first to introduce mandala art to western scholars. He became fascinated by their therapeutic powers. For him, mandala designs represent the psychological self and lead to self-awareness and healing. Moreover, they exhibit the divinity of the self since the circle is a symbol of the wholeness of the psyche. For example, drawing complete designs of Mandalas unconsciously helps individuals with integration and individuation.
Nowadays, people color mandala designs to reduce stress. It also allows expressing the creative side. Drawing Mandala designs became a hobby among art lovers. To reach the full effects, they let their instincts guide them without analysis or following certain rules. The choice of colors and shapes flows naturally.
Mandala Art In Modern Life:
Modern consumerism has linked mandala art to the bohemian lifestyle. So we can find these designs in decoration, fashion, beauty, and other aspects. Elephant mandalas have become extremely popular in Western cultures.
In modern life, people use mandala designs in a variety of ways. In yoga, mandalas represent a sacred space to exclude external influences. Often, Monks and Yoga coaches draw mandalas during meditation. Similarly, Native Americans use it in healing circles, and this act has spread worldwide. The circles are useful for the restoration of the body, mind, and heart. Also, if you look at a Dreamcatcher, which is a popular item that has an Amerindian origin, it also has the shape and patterns of Mandalas.
Mandala Art In Other Cultures:
We can find similar geometrical designs in other cultures like Christian and Islamic architecture. even Native American culture includes similar designs under different names.
Today, they have become so popular worldwide. Consequently, artists are competing to break the records of the most complicated and mesmerizing Mandala designs.
Mandala art is a popular tool for meditation since their designs reduce negative thoughts and bring harmony, but not just for this reason. Ultimately, people create mandalas to center the body and mind.