Lines in the Sand: UT’s Sand Mandala Project [Watch]

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Draped in red robes and golden wraps, nine men hunch over a table arranged with dozens of small silver bowls, decorative scarves, and a few oranges. Behind them, a portrait of the Dalai Lama watches as the men—Tibetan Buddhist monks of the Drepung Loseling Monastery—carefully arrange millions of brightly colored sand grains onto the wooden surface before them.

Though they’re executing an ancient Buddhist practice, the monks aren’t in Tibet. Instead, they’re in the Blanton Museum of Art’s Rapoport Atrium on the Forty Acres, where they created a sand mandala—a spiritual work of art and a tool for blessing the earth—in January.

The Blanton’s Sand Mandala Project coincided with Into the Sacred City: Tibetan Buddhist Deities from the Theos Bernard Collection, the museum’s winter exhibition of Tibetan artworks. Over the course of five days, the monks worked diligently to create the mandala, starting with a sketch of the design. This particular design was called avalokiteshvara, meaning the personification of compassion.

More like a film or play than a painting or sculpture, the sand mandala only remained in its complete state for half an hour, serving as a representation of the impermanence of all things. In a consecration ceremony, the mandala was disassembled and the sand was poured into Waller Creek, where it will follow the current and, the monks believe, distribute healing powers throughout the world. —Kelsey McKinney and Jordan Schraeder

Photo by Zen Ren.


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