MANDALAS History and design The word mandala dates
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MANDALA’S History and design
The word "mandala" dates back to ancient times and is from the classical Indian language of Sanskrit. Loosely translated to mean "circle, " a mandala is far more than a simple shape. It represents wholeness, and can be seen as a model for the organizational structure of life itself--a cosmic diagram that reminds us of our relation to the infinite, the world that extends both beyond and within our bodies and minds. Describing both material and non-material realities, the mandala appears in all aspects of life: the celestial circles we call earth, sun, and moon, as well as conceptual circles of friends, family, and community.
A mandala is a symbol of the universe in its ideal form, and its creation signifies the transformation of a universe of suffering into one of joy. It can also be used as an aid to meditation, helping the meditator to envision how to achieve the perfect self. Mandalas were created in the service of two of the world's most interesting religions, Buddhism & Hinduism. They were produced in Tibet, India, Nepal, China, Japan, Bhutan, and Indonesia and date from the 4 th century to the present. Now they are created throughout the world. . .
The Cosmic Mandala is encompassed by a flaming circle. At the center is a threefooted spiral symbolizing the first movement, surrounded by rotating wind which condenses into basic elements, representing the states of aggregation. The emerging forms of the elements are painted in the blue ring surrounding the center and represents the all pervading condition, the source of all elements filling the space of the Mandala. On it circles are drawn; looking like ellipses in their dynamic intersection, they portray the orbits of celestial bodies, painted in all the colors of the rainbow plus black and white and indicating the directions. These twelve astrological circles of the upper sphere demonstrate the movements of sun, moon and stars in the seasons.
CELTIC: The most notable and best-loved feature of the Celtic designs is, of course, the amazing quality of line. Usually one unbroken line twirls and spirals into a multitude of patterns and figures. The repeated crossing of the line, over itself, was believed to increase protection and ward off evil. Perhaps it was hoped that evil would lose its way in the maze of loops! In a Celtic design called the “love knot”, the continuous flow of a single line symbolizes the path of true love, briefly wandering here and there for a while, but always returning home to the beginning. Other Mandala designs, such as those on tombstones or Celtic crosses symbolize the continuity of the cycles of life and the connectedness of all living things.
The Christian tradition is abundant with Mandalas, from halos to architectural oculi, to rose windows. Then there is the marble paved pattern on the floor of the Chartres Cathedral in France, which is a Mandala design known as a labyrinth. It has been the primary inspiration for many labyrinths created in the last decade, particularly in the United States. Made with distinctive blue and white tiles laid in quadrants, this 12 -circuit labyrinth was used for reflection and penance beginning in the 13 th century. Amazingly, it is the same size and shape as the rose window above it. Why this was constructed in this way and the effect it has on people is something still being pondered today.
In Islam, most sacred art consists of abstractions or geometric shapes, such as squares inside circles. It is understood that God is present in everything, so that a specific representation of the Divine is not necessary and is even considered blasphemous. As with the Indian stupa, a holy mosque becomes a Mandala with the dome representing the heavens and lifting people’s hearts and minds toward Allah.
In North America, the Navajo people produced some of the most interesting Mandala structures including sand paintings, dream catchers, and medicine wheels. With the sand paintings, their symbolism included animals and forces of nature. The lore of the dream catchers is also found in their customs, traditions, and music.
Perhaps some of the best known Mandalas today are the beautiful designs made of powdered marble and semi-precious stones, created by the Tibetan monks. The Tibetan word for Mandala is kyil-kor, which means “Center of the universe in which a fully awakened being abides”. The truth of this definition becomes evident as you create Mandalas and share the experience with others. The more connected you become, the more aware and happy you are with yourself and with your place in the world.
We can thank Swiss psychologist Carl Gustav Jung for introducing the mandala to the western world. From his experiences and those of his patients, we have a broader definition and a freer application of the mandala than existed originally. Jung championed the spontaneous mandala in contrast to the preplanned, geometric mandalas that existed previously in cultures around the world. Where religious mandalas often have a specified content and format, personal mandalas, such as those fostered by Jung are unlimited in their style, format and symbols. We knew that mandalas represented the universe, but thanks to Jung, we now know that they also represent the universe of the Self. The mandalas we produce for ourselves tend to be more Jungian and organic in style than the ones found elsewhere around the world.
THE MANDALA Create a Mandala and feel your spirit!