Sunday, January 23, 2011

Tibetan sand mandalas

If you've ever seen a real-life Tibetan Buddhist sand mandala I'm sure you were as impressed as I was. For me the truly amazing aspect is that they don't use any glue! The mandalas are large - about a meter across - and take days to construct. That's a LOT of loose sand! Don't dare bump the board it's on, or sneeze, or turn on a fan.

Photo courtesy of 'henryart' at
I've had the privilege of seeing three being constructed. It's amazing to watch the monks at work. I discovered an interesting time-lapse video of one that took six days to complete. The whole thing comes together in about two minutes and the video is very interesting. One gets a much better idea of the process - and I think it's even more impressive - to stop by day after day to watch a mandala like this take shape slowly, as it must. It's interesting to be in the atmosphere of the monks' care and focused attention, although they are also friendly, smiling, and open to chat and explain. Then finally, once all that careful work is done, to watch it all being swept together.

Here's another video that's mostly sand mandalas. The sound track is by Phyllis Cole-Dai, an American pianist and composer. The music is lovely, as are the sentiments expressed, but what makes this video particularly special for me is that my painting "Whiz Bang" appears in it! It shows up near the end, just after the seven minute mark, and lasts about half a minute.

WHIZ BANG (c) 1995 Margaret Bremner; 24" square.
While mainly done in acrylic paint Whiz Bang does contain a few sections of colored sand. But I used glue! There is also a filigree gold-colored metal disk in the center. If I had to choose a dozen masterpieces of my work, this would be one of them.


  1. Those sand mandalas are phenomenal, aren't they? I am quite taken with your Whiz Bang, too, and for many of the same reasons I find the sand mandalas appealing! Excellent work.

  2. Love your 'Whiz Bang'..the colours and design are gorgeous.

  3. Thank you so much for creating the link to the sand mandala's videos!! There is simply no end to the ways we can be open to expressing ourselves.

    In the primarily Judeo-Christian West, we are so accustomed to the long-lasting symbols of religion in our stained glass church windows, etc., that we don't learn enough about how art and religion meet in other faith traditions.

  4. This is so vividly gorgeous! Wow and wow again!

  5. Every year the monks come to Columbus and do their mandala work. The amazing end to the story is, they dump it in the river at the end of the weekend. I love this part. It accentuates the process as being meaningful rather than the production of a beautiful piece of art, which it is!

  6. I forgot to say (cuz it almost goes without saying) that your Whiz Bang is luscious!!! I've seen it before, and it's always a treat for my eyes!

  7. Je continue à découvrir votre blog et j'aime aussi beaucoup vos mandalas. Je pratique sous beaucoup de forme différentes (éphémères, peintures...) mais aussi avec du sable que je colle sur du polyphane. J'aime beaucoup cette technique très large. Si vous le souhaitez, vous pouvez voir le rendu sur mon blog (

  8. Ah Margareth, je viens d'aller voir votre blog. Quels magnifiques travaux que vous faites! Je suis devenue "Follower".
    J'ai découverte que vous habitez en France. (Voir mon commentaire sous le "Ten Tangled Houses".) Je crois qu'il y a aussi une CZT qui habite en France durant la moitié de l'année.