Explained: What is Mandala in art?

Source: The post is based on the article “Explained: What is Mandala in art?” published in Indian Express on 21st August 2022.

What is the News?

Residents of Liverpool are amazed over a Mandala the size of one and a half football pitches in length created by artist James Brunt with materials such as leaves and rocks.

What is Mandala?

Mandala literally means “circle” or “centre” in Sanskrit. It is defined by a geometric configuration that usually incorporates the circular shape in some form.

Mandala patterns are a centuries-old motif that is used to depict the cosmos and have been adapted by artists the world over.

It can also be created in the shape of a square. But a mandala pattern is essentially interconnected. 

What is the origin of Mandala Art? 

It is believed to be rooted in Buddhism, appearing in the first century BC in India. Over the next couple of centuries, Buddhist missionaries travelling along the silk road took it to other regions.

In Hinduism, the mandala imagery first appeared in Rig Veda(1500 – 500 BCE).

What is the meaning of Mandala motifs?

It is believed that by entering the mandala and moving towards its center, one is guided through the cosmic process of transforming the universe from one of suffering to that of joy. 

In Hinduism, a mandala or yantra is in the shape of a square with a circle at its centre.

Elements in Mandala Art: There are various elements incorporated within the mandala, each of which has its own meaning. For instance, the eight spokes of the wheel (the dharmachakra) represent the eightfold path of Buddhism, the lotus flower depicts balance, and the sun represents the universe.

– Facing up, triangles represent action and energy, and facing down, they represent creativity and knowledge.

Mandala in Modern Art

Mandala continues to appear in Thangka paintings. But it also has a central place in the practice of mainstream artists associated with the tantric and neo-tantric spiritual movements. 

In the 1960s Sohan Qadri and Prafulla Mohanty gained widespread recognition for their works that were imbibed with tantric symbolism, such as mandalas that are also used in the rituals of tantric initiation. 

Geometric compositions also dominated the works of artists such as Biren De, GR Santosh, Shobha Broota, and famously SH Raza, who visualized the Bindu as the centre of his universe and the source of energy and life.

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