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.

RECOMMENDED TITLES: TIBETAN FOLK TALES & STORIES

ON-LINE RESOURCES

World Civilizations: Explore Tibetan Culture in the Hilltowns

Come Explore Tibetan Culture Near the Tibetan New Year
through Sand Mandalas, Prayer Flags and Folk Tales

ccl by ktpuppThe Tibetan New Year is known as Losar and is one of Tibet’s most celebrated holidays. This year Losar begins on February 7th and lasts for fifteen days.

HILLTOWN KIDS CAN DISCOVER TIBETAN CULTURE

On Friday, February 1st, 2008, (Postponed to Sunday 02/03 @ 10am) Hilltown Families will be co-sponsoring with the Children’s Art Museum an opportunity for kids to discover more about Tibetan culture by making sand mandalas and prayer flags. Tibetan folktales will also be shared. This class will be held at the Children’s Art Museum (same building as the Trolley Museum) in Shelburne Falls, MA, from 4pm-6:30pm. All ages are welcomed. Pre-registration is required ($). Click here to reserve your spot, or call 413.625.2030.

TIBETAN NEW YEAR: A BRIEF HISTORY

“The [New Year] festival is said to have begun when an old woman named Belma introduced the measurement of time based on the phases of the moon. This festival took place during the flowering of the apricot trees of the Lhokha Yarla Shampo region in autumn, and it may have been the first celebration of what has become the traditional farmers’ festival. It was during this period that the arts of cultivation, irrigation, refining iron from ore and building bridges were first introduced in Tibet. The ceremonies which were instituted to celebrate these new capabilities can be recognized as precursors of the Losar festival. Later when the rudiments of astrology, based on the five elements, were introduced in Tibet, this farmer’s festival became what we now call the Losar or New Year’s festival.*

TIBETAN SAND MANDALAS

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. Making a sand mandala joins the art and history together into a creative and tactile experience.

The video above 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. The chanting in this video captured my daughter’s (age 5) 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.

Book Suggestions:

 

TIBETAN PRAYER FLAGS

ccl phitarOn the Tibetan New Year, it is tradition to take down old prayer flags and to replace them with new ones. Making prayer flags with your kids is an opportunity to teach them about other cultures and comparative religions. Because Tibetan prayer flags utilize color and animal symbolism along with positive intentions, parents can take the time to discuss with their kids the meaning of these symbols before making their flags.

Suite 101 has a post on how to make Tibetan Prayer Flags For Kids, and Legally Kidnapped has a post on Tibetan Prayer Flags: Uses and Meanings.

TIBETAN FOLK TALES & STORIES

 

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