About Mandalas


A Mandala is a spiritual symbol found in both Buddhist and Hindu cultures. A traditional mandala usually has a circular centre, which is surrounded by a square with four openings or 'gates', which itself is surrounded by another circle. They are often highly decorated and the designs are symbolic, representing the universe and various spiritual elements. They have been used for centuries in meditation practice and religious teaching.

Mandalas have become an art form in themselves, and many designs you see today claiming to be mandalas have lost their religious significance - including mine!  I am often lazy and refer to them as 'mandalas' when really they are just circular patterns involving lots of repeats. They are, however, very therapeutic to design as they require a lot of concentration and are a good way to switch off (and avoid work..) 

I'm just going to include two example on this page. The first was based on the Book of Kells.

 The Book of Kells is a manuscript containing parts of the New Testament made in 800AD by monks in either Britain or Ireland. The original book is housed in a special display at the library of Trinity College which is part of Dublin University. If you've never seen it it's worth looking at it online as it includes the most amazing illustrations. You can find out more  on the Trinity College Library website here. The entire manuscript has been scanned and all the images are available on the college website here

The above design is probably my most 'traditional' as it does feature four gates. (After that I went a bit off piste). The interesting thing is that the source for this, was not Buddhist or Hindu, but Christian. The image I used for inspiration is this one:

The little serpent creature's head is this one:

The second example moves completely away from traditional mandala designs and is more pictorial. I started with the fish and went from there.

The spiral in the middle is a logarithmic spiral. The site I used to teach me how to do this is by some students at Rowan University in New Jersey and was here. To be honest, I don't know how long that link will be live but I guess if you search for how to draw a logarithmic spiral you would find instructions. It took me many hours to perfect and I probably could have drawn in as well free hand but it was fun to learn. 

All my 'mandalas' are created on the computer using paint.net, which is a free programme you can download here. I prefer this to hand drawing as once you've created a section you can repeat it very quickly using copy and paste, though I sometimes have to play around with the angles and reflections. I also like the way you can use layers to test things out and move things in front and behind. Don't think it's quick though. These examples represent hours and hours of procrastination when I should have been doing work or doing stuff around the house. 

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