What are MANDALAS?

Posted by Kornelia Ferrari on

What are MANDALAS?

Lotus flower meditation dot Mandala, blue red green white

The word Mandala originally comes from Sanskrit, an ancient Indian language. The word itself literally means “circle.” Circle is seen as a magical form as it has no beginning and no end.

If I would want to give a simple description I would say Mandalas are usually circular geometric compositions based on repetitive patterns of shapes and colours. In the modern world you can hear of mandalas when referring to ornaments, drawings or paintings which can be used to inspire relaxation or meditation or are simply used as decorations.


A Tibetan Buddhist mandala

The mandala iconography is present in many different countries, cultures and religions throughout the world. They are used as instruments of meditation and symbols of prayer- mainly in Tibet, China and Japan. Here are some other examples as well:

  • In Hindu tradition mandalas include yantras with different geometric shapes, images, and written mantras. Examples include the mandalas dedicated to the ten mahavidias (the different aspect of parashakti, the female energy).
  • In Buddhist cultures mandalas are spiritual symbols and serve as a representation of the universe and a guide on the path to enlightenment. The subjects of the traditional Buddhist mandalas include the Tree of Life and the Path of Buddha, in a number of versions, different size and complexity
  • The circular shape and repetitive patterns are also recognizable in the dream catchers of Native Americans and the mythology and the magic tradition of the tribes of the Appalachian Mountains and shamanism.
  • The Chinese Yin and Yang symbols also have a circular shape that represents a mandala.
  • The Tibetan Sand Mandalas are also truly amazing. In Vajrayana Buddhism, mandalas have been developed also into sand paintings.
  • In Celtic spirals and knot work hides Mandalas as well.
  • In Christianity in the rose windows of the churches, in the rosary, in the halos representing the enlightment of the saints.
  • And finally they can be find in astrology, numerology and divination charts too.

Mandalas and spirituality

Some people use Mandalas as support for meditation or to achieve a mindful attention. The patterns, forms and colours of mandalas have a calming effect just like relaxing music- only they act on a visual sensorial experience. Because of their symmetrical shape they draw attention to the centre, helping focusing the mind and inspiring or facilitating spiritual practices. Mandalas are used for meditation purposes allowing the individual meditating to become one with the universe. I believe only some people are able to do this but nevertheless, using a Mandala for meditation helps to relax the brain and body.


 MandaLove by Nelly dot paintings

All my paintings are made entirely out of hundreds and thousands of dots. Some of them are Mandalas for relaxation or meditation and some are more modern dot paintings. Some include silhouettes and some are not circle shaped at all. They all have harmonious colours schemes that give a relaxed feeling.


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