Discover Buddhist Art and Culture in Amherst

Tibetan Art and Sand Mandala’s at Amherst College

On Sunday, Oct. 16, at approximately 2 p.m., there will be a dissolution ceremony at which the deity will be released by the dismantling of the mandala. This underlines the transient quality of life and the Buddhist emphasis on non-attachment. When the mandala is destroyed, the deity’s blessings are said to spread out to all. In this photo, Namgyal monks are completing a sand mandala. Click on the photo to learn more about sand mandalas.

The Mead Art Museum at Amherst College is currently hosting an exhibition of thangka- scroll paintings of Buddhist figures. The scrolls have recently been restored and preserved, and as a celebration, the scrolls are on display! To end the show, monks from the Tibetan Buddhist Namgyal Monastery in Ithaca, NY will be creating a sand mandala at the campus’ Frost Library. A mandala is an intricate design created and devoutly destroyed to demonstrate the Buddhist belief in the transitory nature of life. The mandala will be constructed over the course of 4 days (Oct. 13-16). The dismantling of the mandala will be at 2pm on Sunday, October 16th during a dissolution ceremony- bring the family and come see for yourself what it’s all about! This is a great way to introduce your kids to Buddhist culture.

Sand Mandalas are an ancient Tibetan art form that were used to teach compassion, environmental relations and impermanency. With Tibet being one of the last ancient civilizations, teaching kids the history behind this ancient art form can supplement their global awareness of world civilizations and cultures. Witnessing the making and destruction of one of these amazing sand mandalas joins art and history together into a creative and tactile demonstration.

The video below shows a close-up look at the application of sand to a Chenrezig the Buddha of Compassion Mandala by Tibetan monks, accompanied with Tibetan chanting. I first showed this video to my daughter when she was five years old. The chanting in this video captured her attention immediately, which led to an interesting conversation about sand mandalas and the impermanence of things. Her first inclination was to figure out how to make it permanent. Tape ended up being her suggested solution.



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