In a country
rich in religious traditions, the arts and culture has inevitably been
influenced and it is sometimes difficult to distinguish the two. What
is clear though is that the arts and culture has become comparable to
the magnificence of the Vatican City.
‘mandala’ is Sanskrit for circle, polygon, community or connection, and
it is used in Tibetan Buddhism as an aid to meditation in the rituals
of tantric initiation. They are representations of imaginary palaces commonly
made from colored sand and sometimes from paper or textile. Each object
in the palace has some significance in representing an aspect of wisdom
or as a reminder of religious principles. The size, shape and colors of
these objects are dictated by tradition with different types of mandalas
representing particular ideals or concepts. Most mandalas contain representations
of inanimate objects as well as deities who are represented by Sanskrit
characters. The mandala is usually represented in two dimensions and takes
several days to construct. It is then destroyed shortly after completion.
prayer as a means of offering homage, Thanka paintings are generally hung
in monastic shrines or in domestic altars. Large sized Thankas are unrolled
during annual ceremonies and hung outside the walls of monasteries. Pilgrims
also carry rolled up images of protective deities on their journeys throughout
the land. This practice helped disseminate styles across the vast lands.
The Tibetans regarded these paintings as more than works of art. They
are rich in iconography and are also sacred objects of devotion and religious