A Brief Interlude of Mandala Theory

At the center is unity

Back in early November, I fell down a rabbit hole trying to research the origins of mandalas [1] and came across some interesting sites (and bypassed so many more “interesting” ones) which suggested that mandalas [should] start at the center with a single dot/circle (bindu), which represents unity/sperm/ova.

(Seriously, we all knew fertility stuff was at the root of all religious practice, yes/yes? If not, go do some research on your own.  Sex and birth and death, my friends.)

There’s a whole lot that is still … vague because I’m doing Internet Research, but this gels with my vague mental synthesis of modern mandala style, so I decided to start doing this in my own work.

The circles are the walls

The other thing that seemed to be a real thing was the idea that the center is surrounded by a series of walls.  In the traditional Tibetan mandalas, these are square, rather than circular, and each side has a gate (this is a terrible design from a defensive standpoint, but aesthetically is pleasing).

This, too, seemed like a great concept to incorporate into my work.  This also reflects the Jungian ideas of mandalas, as a form of meditation and self-awareness (or something like that).  Circles are popular in modern mandalas, which are the style I’m working towards/with/as a springboard.

The whole is the self

That’s the practical combination for me as an artist of these concepts (and, surely, a kitchen sink of other impressions and concepts): that the mandala is a momentary impression of the self, starting with the self/seed/unity, and each portion of the design within a wall that protects and contains the inner self/selves and ultimately creates the boundary between ourselves and the world.

Which sounds surprisingly like a Real Artist Statement Of Meaning About My Art.

I’m as baffled as anybody else about how that happened from some internet searches and wiggling vectors around on a screen, but there it is.

[1] Seriously, I’m still not finding good stuff on the internet for this and would love links if you have them.  Particularly to things with some solid research behind them, rather than the behindthename equivalents.  Particularly to things which talk about the evolution of mandala styles because WOAH modern stuff looks nothing like Tibetan and then there’s the whole thing about some cross-pollination between the various Tibetan, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, and then somehow Christian styles/traditions and there’s an enormous informational gap online and WHY AM I IN THIS RABBIT HOLE AGAIN.

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2 Responses to A Brief Interlude of Mandala Theory

  1. Tae says:

    Not knowing what you’ve already read, I’m not sure what to suggest, but Google Scholar searches for the following terms seem to offer relevant results:

    mandala art history

    Tibetan mandala art

    Buddhist mandala art

  2. Pingback: World on Fire Mandala | Ninth Circle Design

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