Mandala: the Architecture of Enlightenment

The following article is from the Summer, 1997 issue of the Snow Lion Newsletter and is for historical reference only. You can see this in context of the original newsletter here.

This exhibition will open at the Asia Society Galleries on September 22, 1997, and will run until January 4, 1998. It is co-organized by Tibet House, NY and the Asia Society. This in-depth exhibit focuses exclusively on mandalas, and will include 50 diverse pieces from Tibet, Nepal, China, Japan, Bhutan and Indonesia.

The Sanskrit word mandala is a sacred circle created or visualized by a meditation practitioner and is most commonly associated with both Hindu and Buddhist traditions. An actual mandala can be two or three dimensional and made from a variety of mediumspainted on cloth, sculpted or constructed from wood or stone, or made of sand particles or thread. The mandala generally consists of a sacred circle within which key deities reside in specific configurations in a multi-level square palace. Best known as it appears today in Tibetan and Nepali painting, the. geometric diagram of the mandala opens in the four cardinal directions, and is surrounded by other circles which often contain additional figures. In Tibetan Buddhism, mandalas are used in ritual practice as archetypal blueprints of the multi-dimensional worlds of the enlightened state.

The exhibition begins with the foundations of mandala imagery in actual buildings such as the stupa, followed by the cosmological basis in Buddhism, illustrations of the great variety of mandalas, and lastly, Chinese, Indonesian and Japanese pieces based on actual religious sites.

This exhibition has been jointly curated by Robert Thurman and Denise Patry Leidy. For further information about the exhibition contact The Asia Society Gallery at 212-517-ASIA. ä_æ

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