The art of the Mandala

ORIGIN OF THE WORD MANDALA मण्डल

“Mandala” is a Sanskrit word which is difficult to translate literally. It conveys a notion mixing circle, sphere and environmental concepts.

This word may have originated from many common words used in Indo-European languages: In French and English “mental”, the English “meddle”, the French “monde” (“world”), etc…
In modern Khmer, this term is compounded with other words to express the idea of both the centre (geometry, gravity, etc.) and polarity.

origin of the word mandala
the Wheel of Time

The MANDALA, monotheist component of Oriental Religions

Oriental Religions, including Hinduism and Buddhism, are known for their many deities, the latter often represented in diverse forms.

These religions are nevertheless not famous for their monotheist component. Mandala is a representation of the universe bringing together all the creatures of the world, with deities at the forefront. This vision may be simply understood as the infinitely large (the Cosmos) and the infinitely small (the Spirit, or Soul); with the individual acting as a link between these two extremes.

A lesser-known fact is that we deal with mathematical and geometric concepts, where the infinite is located outside and its reciprocal, “zero”, stands at the core. The linking individual is the “indivisible unity” or the “figure 1”, of which it is its own reciprocal.

The MANDALA a pictorial tradition

Actually, the word Mandala is more commonly used to name a pictorial tradition, the art of religious painting (Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist, etc.), notably significant in the Indian World (India, Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan) and its extension, Indochina and Indonesia.
This composition associates in a simple and efficient manner the “Supreme Individual”—a deity, its spirit or symbol—where the cosmos is depicted as a base for ideal contemplation or meditation, used not only in a religiousesoterical context but also, medical (psychotherapy).

The MANDALA a pictorial tradition

Main Forms of the Mandala

example of thangka

THANGKAS

The most common form of Mandala is theThangka ("Thangka", "Thanka" or "Tanka").
A cotton or jute canvas thickened with lime and painted with gouache often with gilded ornaments.

Found everywhere in India, Nepal or Tibet, Thangkas can be of any dimension. Either a painting on the wall of a house, or of a temple sanctuary, etc: it can also be an amulet that one never takes off

Monumental Thangkas are exhibited on walls, slopes and cliffs or even on a purposely-built metallic structure during a major ceremony.

EPHEMERAL MANDALA: SAND MANDALA

Designed by groups of monks on the occasion of major Tantric Buddhist ceremonies, these are the most sophisticated form of Mandala. The colored sand mandala takes days to be realized…

Every step of achievement is celebrated by a religious adequate ceremony… Psalms are permanently prayed during the whole celebration.

Blessed sand fills small bags offered to the people attending the ceremony, who will do a good deed— ultimate demonstration of the impermanence of beauty— by scattering the sand in the air, fire, earth or water.

SAND MANDALA
example of yantra example of yantra example of yantra

YOAN, YANT, YANTRA

Yantra (pronounced "Yoan" in Khmer, “Yant" in Thailand and Laos) is a Sanskrit word, which laterally means: "mechanical" and by extension in the current language "engine" and by extension “vehicle”.

Unlike mandala in where the composition is a painting gathering figurative elements, the Angkorian yantras are sophisticated wholes of Mantra (syllabical psalms wrote up in Pâli, canonical language of Theravada Buddhism) organised in magic shaped phylacters.

These graphical compositions follows some similar mystical rulings and layouts as the art of the mandala and has similar uses : meditation, ritual offering, protection, and even exorcism.

The most common form remains black ink lined / writen drawn on "monk robes tissue" and suspended in the interior of the house facing the door or on itself: in one’s pocket or vehicle… Therefore this divinatory art concerns the almost totality of the modern angkorian population.

In the category of ultimate yantras let us quote the art of ritual tattoo ("sak yoan’”or “sak yant’” as a magical protection, permanent and eternal (at least until the end of life of its owner - traditionally a guru monk or a soldier).

But with cultural openness and the greater ease with which everyone can travel, the Yantra - especially in its tattooed form - is now increasingly known and adopted outside the borders of the modern Angkorian world.

3D Mandala – Samye Monastry

The Plan-Mandala in 2D
The Plan-Mandala in 2D
Main sanctuary on his Plan-Mandala
Main sanctuary of the Monastery on his Plan-Mandala
3D Development of the Plan-Mandala
3D Development of the Plan-Mandala
similarities monastery vs the plan-mandala
Aerial view of the Monastery and highlighting of his similarities – design, colorset - vs the Plan-Mandala

characteristics of the Mandala

Fractality

Fractality relates to the features of an object that tends to represent the same structure from whichever distance (close or far) you look at it from.

example of fractal
example of fractal
example of fractal

Immeasurable

Planets and satellites gravitation

Immeasurable
Plancton Cells atom neuronas

Infinitesimal

Plancton Cells, Atom, Neuronas