I had the opportunity to see my first Tibetan sand mandala being created at the Hammer museum in Westwood, Ca yesterday. The exhibit is being put on by the Mandala Project. (www.aribhod.org) The traditional Tibetan mandala is meticulously painted with colored sand and can be seen in its 3-D replica and blue print forms as well. The process is amazing and to see it in person was a moving experience.
I continue to learn something new all the time about mandalas. I learned yesterday that traditional mandalas are 3-dimensional and flat replicas are created on a surface painted with colored sand. These are the mandalas I am most familiar with. Given the time and expertise needed to create 3-dimensional mandalas, there are only a few of them in the world. These mandalas are not dismantled when completed as the sand mandalas are. The particular mandala that is on display at the Hammer is the Zangdok Palri and depicts the gathering of awareness holders, who have attained the highest level of wisdom and capacity to benefit others. ((The Mandala Project) Whether 3-dimensional or as a sand mandala, the space is considered sacred and rich in ancient symbolism.
To preserve the importance of this treasure of Tibetan culture, the Zangdok Pairi Mandala is being built in the mountains of Tehachapi, California. It will be a four-story architectural mandala. When completed, the structure will reach 90 feet high and will be a symbol to promote and teach peace and compassion.