Mandalas – ritualistic shapes within a circle or a square that represents the universe or connects to it mainly during a tantric ritual. They can be self expression circles created by doodling as developed by the psychologist Carl Jung as a part of Art Therapy.
Its the season of harmony; it is the season of self – realisation. It is the season when cultures around the world celebrate Divinity. December is here – the month which when utilised to the fullest can give us the time and space to accomplish the deeds that we want to accomplish this year without postponing it. Two of the things on my to-do list for 2017 was to revisit an old hobby and to do a big workshop where I teach a new skill or a technique. I was able to finally accomplish both this December with my Mandala Jewelry workshop .
I started to draw mandalas and zen doodle once again after many years. I also created a process of creating mini wearable mandalas. As the Art Bead Scene Studio’s 7th Annual Ornament Hop is here, it felt natural to show you Mandala themed ornaments and jewelry in this hop. Find here the ornament that I created Favecraft’s contest last year –DIY Upcycled Bohemian ornament, in case you missed it.
I started to write all I know about Mandalas and this post slowly turned into a serious research paper. By that time my computer, my internet connection and yes wordpress all started misbehaving. No matter what I did, I couldn’t get the post up for the hop. So here is a narrative rewrite that is hopefully an easy read. I hope that, soon, I can finish the original article and get it published in a magazine or a journal. I would be grateful for readers input’s on the magazines that would accept such articles.
Types of Forms
Divinity in design is one of my all-time favourite topics and the iconography and symbolism of mandalas fall right into that category. Designers, architects, and artists who study forms know that there are four types of forms. I’ll tell you why they are important to this topic in a minute.
The four types of forms are
- Natural (realistic or how they appear in nature)
- Geometric – bound by the rules or geometry or represented by geometrical shapes
- Abstract – representation of the essence of the form in its truest sense without irrelevant details
- Stylised – portrayed in a particular style
What are Mandalas
Imagine that you are standing in the lobby of a tall building waiting to go up. You would require a portal through which you can travel – an elevator right? Similarly, a Mandala is just a form, a portal that connects our world (earth) with higher dimensions or our individual mind with the collective consciousness. A mandal is a space that houses divinity. So if the Divine energy (God/Goddess) is the abstract form and idols are stylised versions of the divinity (represented in a human, animal, bird or liminal forms), then Mandalas are geometric portrayals of the Divine.
From being used a mythical maps to create portals to other worlds in the Pre- Vedic and Vedic periods or becoming design elements such as sculpture, fixtures, and murals mandalas have evolved and mutated over time. These depictions showcased the mindset or the emotions an individual felt in search of the Divinity. In later periods, they were used to define the aesthetics of the area surrounding the temple. However, the drawing of Buddhist and Tibetan Yantras (tools) and Mandalas by itself is a ritual used to attain enlightenment even today.
Contemporary Mandala Art
The practice of drawing a mandala is a journey of self-realisation. Clearing out a space and preparing it in anticipation of the ideas that you want to manifest in your life and then creating art that you know will be erased once its solved its purpose is a beautiful thing. It gives you time to collect your thoughts, calm yourself, and check your flaws. It also helps you think about remedial measures. This is the reason drawing of kolams, sand art or other types of transient art was prescribed in ancient cultures. In the last 5 years doodling has become the “in thing” in the West. Mandalas soon followed and now you can find them as graphics elements on several products.
Mandalas in Jewelry
This got me thinking about Mandala jewelry and by extension ornaments using Mandalas. In the spirit of true mandalas, I started with the preparation of the space or the surface with paper, canvas, and gesso. The designs originate in the center focal (Adi moolam – i.e origin) and radiate towards the boundaries. I chose colours that symbolise creativity, inquisitiveness, learning, and calmness to record what I wanted to manifest in my life.
I added looped beads once the pendants were finished and sealed. Including hte beads, they measure about 6″ in length and are great as mini wall hangers. However, My house is a complete mess at the moment due to a construction job so they are tucked away safely. They will eventually become pendants for necklaces in the true spirit of evolution. But for now, they remain as tokens of self expression, as attempts of mine to connect with something greater than myself.
Before I conclude I would like to show you some Mandala Jewelry that I made. Looking back, each piece is like a visual journal that speaks about my state of mind the day they were made.
Above: Mangalam – Red and Green necklace with hand painted Mandala pendant. Below: Smrithi – Pink and purple crystal and glass bead necklace wit ha blooming flower mandala
A day before my workshop, I noticed that my mom was visibly disturbed. After what seemed like an internal debate she asked me “Are you sure you can teach them to draw a mandala in an afternoon?” I nodded my head and said that it could be done in 2-3 hours. She was shocked and whispered, “but those monks take 10-12 years to master it”. I burst out laughing which perplexed her even more. She was obviously referring to the Buddhist Mandalas drawn in Thangka paintings and I to the doodles that are in vogue at the present.
Yes Amma, the path to enlightenment is long drawn out but afterall it begins with that one moment of self realisation. Putting thought to action or this case brush to canvas can lead us one step closer to finding ourselves amidst chaos.
Happy Holidays to all those celebrating winter festivities!