The Art of Mandola Sandpainting

Sand painting is an art of making painting using coloured sands, powdered pigments from natural or synthetic sources. Mandola stands for the ritual and spiritual symbol in Hinduism and Buddhism, which represents the universe.In Sanskrit, the word Mandola means “world in harmony.” It is generally drawn in three- dimensional form. Mandola Sand painting involves the creation and destruction of Mandolas which are made from coloured sand. After completion of the Mandola, it is destroyed. This destruction symbolises the temporaryand short- lived nature of the physical life.The basic material required for construction involves dyed, natural sand and the granules of crushed coloured sand. In the contemporary times, the palm white stones which have been ground and dyed with opaque ink.

Mandola Sand Painting starts with the drawing of Mandola with the given geometric measurements. Usually monks draw the basic geometrical design. Chak-pur is a conical shaped funnel with ridges down the sides.Its length ranges from 12” to 18“in length tapering into a fine point. This helps to disperse the sand in a meticulous way. There are two “chakpurs” symbolising the union of compassion and wisdom. The sand granules are applied using funnels, scrappers, tubes and chak-pur until the desired design is completed. There is a lot of hard work and time consumption involved in the designing of Mandola. It takes several weeks to build the Mandolas as the sand has to be laid down very minutely. A team of monks generally work for weeks to make Mandolas.

The Mandola usually is made from centre extending outwards. There are many themes on which Mandola are made. The Kalchakra Mandola portrays 722 deities in a complex structure and the geometry. There are small Mandolas such as Vajrabhairva which portrays few deities in a smaller geometrical figure. Although the geometry is simpler still it takes days to complete. The Mandola are general representation of a two dimensional figure which is supposed to be in three dimension. The three dimensional Mandola can be experienced in Java, Indonesia. There is a specific locality present outside the Mandola which is clearly identified as charnel ground. The colour of the painting is generally white, red, yellow, blue and black. White colour is obtained by crushed gypsum. Blue colour is made by a mixture of charcoal and gypsum. Red colour is obtained from sandstone. Powdered bark and roots, flower pollens, corn meal are the other colouring agents being used. The destruction of Mandola takes place in a ceremony which is a very high end ceremony. The deity syllables are also removed in a particular order. This is followed by the removal of the specific geometry followed by the dismantling of the Mandola in the last. The sand which is removed from the Mandola is collected in a jar. This jar is then wrapped in a silk cloth and transported to a river, where it is released into nature. This symbolizes that nothing is permanent in the human life and world.

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