What are mandalas? - Different Types of Mandala Art

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What are Mandalas?

Mandalas have gained widespread popularity in the recent years. Mandalas can be found in various forms, from intricate hand-drawn designs to colouring books, digital art, and even as decorative elements in fashion and home decor. But, what are mandalas? In this blog, you will know everything about mandalas. 

What are Mandalas? 

Mandala, originally meaning a circle in Sanskrit, is a Hindu and Buddhist Tantric symbol. It is a diagram used in the performance of sacred rites and as an instrument of meditation. The mandala is basically considered a representation of the universe, a sacred area that serves as a receptacle for the gods and as a collection point of universal forces. 

origins of mandalas

Now, the question of the origins of mandalas might be crossing your mind. 

Where did mandalas come from? 


Mandalas date back to ancient times. It was initially practised by Buddhist monks, who carried Mandalas with them and travelled to different parts of the world. Even though Mandalas were rooted in Buddhism, they soon became a part of Hinduism and other religious practices. They became prevalent in various countries and cultures around the world, each with its unique artistic and spiritual expressions. 

Mandalas by Buddhist Monks

You must be wondering which are those countries or cultures.

Here are some countries where Mandalas or mandala-like art forms are common even today:

1. India: The mandalas are used in religious rituals, meditation, and as decorative elements.

Mandalas of India

2. Tibet: Tibetan Buddhism is known for intricate sand mandalas created by monks as a form of meditation and spiritual practice.

Tibetan Mandalas

3. Nepal: Mandalas are integral to Nepalese art and are commonly found in religious contexts, especially in temples and shrines.

Nepalese Mandalas

4. Bhutan: Mandalas are used in Bhutanese art and are often seen in religious paintings, textiles, and architecture.

Bhutanese Mandala

5. Japan: In Japan, mandala-like patterns can be found in traditional art, such as Zen gardens and certain forms of Japanese calligraphy.

Japanese Mandalas

6. Indonesia: Mandalas appear in various forms of Indonesian art, including batik textiles and traditional paintings.

Indonesian Mandalas

7. Native American Cultures: Some Native American tribes incorporate circular and geometric designs resembling mandalas in their traditional art.

Native American

Now that we have pretty much told you about the origins and spread of mandalas, you must be wondering how they are used.

Well, mandalas have specific psychological benefits. They can be therapeutic for kids and even for adults. 

Benefits of Mandalas

Creative Expression: Mandalas offer people a creative space to express themselves artistically. Through intricate designs and vibrant colours, one can unleash their imagination and develop focus. More than just art, mandalas become a meaningful way for everyone to communicate emotions and unique perspectives.

Creative Expression Mandalas

Source- Anomaly/Offshoot Books

Educational Tool: Crafting mandalas serves as an enjoyable and educational activity. In this creative process, one can learn about symmetry, patterns, and colours, turning the artistic experience into a fun and enlightening endeavour.

Educational Tool Mandalas
Educational Tool Mandalas

Source- Anomaly/Offshoot Books

Mindfulness Practice: Engaging in the creation of mandalas serves as a mindful practice, fostering a sense of focus and presence. As people immerse themselves in the intricate process of designing these circular patterns, they develop mindfulness, cultivating the ability to concentrate on the creative task at hand. Mandalas thus become a tool for instilling calmness and confidence.

Mindfulness Practice Mandalas

Source- Anomaly/Offshoot Books

Relaxation: The act of creating mandalas becomes a source of relaxation, thanks to its repetitive and calming nature. As artists immerse themselves in the rhythmic process of designing intricate patterns, they find a serene space to unwind and ease into a state of tranquillity.

Relaxation Mandalas

Source- Anomaly/Offshoot Books

Cognitive Development: Engaging in the design of mandalas plays a crucial role in fostering cognitive development. As individuals immerse themselves in creating these intricate patterns, they naturally enhance essential cognitive skills. The process requires a heightened level of concentration, as the intricate details demand focused attention. Moreover, the spatial awareness needed to construct symmetrical and balanced designs contributes to cognitive growth. 

Cognitive Development Mandalas

Source- Anomaly/Offshoot Books

Emotional Outlet: Mandalas serve as a valuable emotional outlet, providing a medium through which they can express their feelings artistically. As creators engage in the process of crafting these intricate designs, they find a means to convey a spectrum of emotions, whether joy, sadness, excitement, or tranquillity. The act of choosing colours, shapes and patterns becomes a non-verbal language through which creators articulate their innermost sentiments.

Emotional Outlet Mandalas

Source- Anomaly/Offshoot Books

Stress Reduction: The act of creating mandalas goes beyond artistic expression; it extends into the realm of stress reduction and emotional well-being. As individuals immerse themselves in the meticulous process of designing these intricate patterns, a calming effect ensues. The repetitive nature of mandala creation fosters a meditative experience, promoting relaxation and alleviating stress.

Stress Reduction Mandalas

Source- Anomaly/Offshoot Books

Improved Concentration: The creation of mandalas serves as a powerful tool for enhancing concentration and attention span. As individuals delve into the intricate details of crafting these geometric patterns, a heightened level of focused attention is necessitated. The precision and mindfulness involved in selecting colours, shapes, and symmetrical elements contribute to a sharpening of cognitive abilities.

Improved Concentration Mandalas

Source- Anomaly/Offshoot Books

Self-Expression: Mandalas serve as a powerful avenue for people to engage in self-expression, offering a unique and non-verbal means to communicate their thoughts, emotions, and creativity. Through the intricate patterns and vibrant colours chosen in the creation of mandalas, one can convey a visual representation of their inner world.

Source- Anomaly/Offshoot Books

Sense of Accomplishment: The completion of a mandala marks not just an artistic achievement but also a significant milestone in an individual’s personal development. Crafting these intricate designs requires patience, attention to detail, and creative expression.

Sense of Accomplishment Mandalas

Source- Anomaly/Offshoot Books

Emotional Regulation: Engaging with mandalas provides a valuable avenue for individuals to develop emotional regulation skills. The process of creating these intricate designs encourages a mindful exploration of their feelings and emotions. As artists navigate the artistic journey of selecting colours, shapes, and patterns, they learn to express and understand their emotional states. This creative practice becomes a therapeutic outlet, enabling them to process and manage a spectrum of emotions in a constructive manner.

Emotional Regulation Mandalas

Source- Anomaly/Offshoot Books

Enhanced Fine Motor Skills in Children: Engaging in the drawing and colouring of mandalas significantly contributes to the enhancement of fine motor skills in children. The intricate details and precise movements involved in the creation of these geometric designs necessitate controlled hand and finger movements. As children carefully navigate the patterns and intricacies of the mandala, they refine their grasp, hand-eye coordination, and overall motor control. This artistic practice becomes a dynamic and enjoyable way for young individuals to hone the dexterity and precision required for various daily tasks. Beyond the aesthetic appeal of the finished mandala, the process itself becomes a developmental exercise, fostering the gradual refinement of fine motor skills in a creative and engaging manner.

Enhanced Fine Motor Skills in Children Mandalas

Source- Anomaly/Offshoot Books

Cultural Appreciation: Delving into the cultural and historical significance of mandalas goes beyond artistic exploration; it becomes a pathway to fostering appreciation for diversity and traditions. Mandalas, with roots deeply embedded in various cultures, carry profound symbolic meanings and reflect historical narratives. Understanding the context in which mandalas have been utilised — whether in Hindu and Buddhist rituals, Native American traditions, or other cultural practices — provides a rich tapestry of insights.

Cultural Appreciation

Source- Anomaly/Offshoot Books

Social Interaction: Embarking on collaborative mandala projects proves to be an effective catalyst for fostering teamwork and social interaction. The shared goal of creating a unified and harmonious mandala encourages communication, cooperation, and the pooling of creative ideas.

Social Interaction

Source- Anomaly/Offshoot Books

Even though mandalas provide an array of benefits, their relevance today lies in their ability to evolve and adapt to contemporary art and the preferences of art lovers. 

So, how have mandalas evolved over time? Here are a few ways- 

Technological Integration: Some artists leverage digital tools and 3D printing to craft intricate and complex mandala designs that were previously unattainable.

Abstract and Experimental Approaches: Mandalas serve as foundations for artists creating abstract and experimental works, incorporating elements like light, movement, and sound into their designs.

Mindfulness and Relaxation: In recent years, mandalas have gained popularity as tools for mindfulness and relaxation.

Meditative Practice: Many individuals engage in the creation of Mandalas as a meditative practice, finding it a calming and centring activity.

Therapeutic Use: Mandalas are utilised as a therapeutic tool to manage stress and anxiety, offering individuals a creative outlet for emotional well-being.

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