"Mandala" is a Sanskrit word meaning "circle." In Hinduism and Buddhism, mandalas are spiritual symbols that represent the universe, organization, and connection to things seen and unseen. These religious mandalas typically consist of a circle and a square with four "gates," all adorned with tiny details of design. These mandalas are used to establish sacred spaces, aid in meditation, or induce a spiritual trance.
In some forms of Buddhism, mandala sand paintings are used in funeral rites, or symbolically represent a sacrifice of the entire universe to Buddha. The sand often consisted of crushed gemstones. The mandala has also influenced other spheres of life in areas where the Hindu and Buddhist religions are prominent. The Rajamandala, or "circle of states," has been used to describe forms of government in the region of Asia.
Designs similar to the mandala are historically seen in other regions as well. For example, windows, floors, and paintings in centuries old Christian cathedrals reflect the mandala's intricate detail and circular shape. Native Americans also created artwork that could be called mandalas. Many tribes used designs called "medicine wheels." The Navajo created sand art mandalas similar to those still accomplished by Tibetan monks. These represented the impermanence of life. The Aztecs and Maya recorded their religious calendars in an intricate circle.
Today, the term "mandala" has been expanded to include any chart or diagram representing the universe, as well as any detailed circular pattern. The famous psychologist Carl Jung related the drawing of mandalas to personal growth, an expression of the emotional state inside a person. Intricate mandala patterns have also become a popular subject of adult coloring books, often meant to help the artist relax and relieve stress.
Would you like to draw your own mandala? This simple beginner's mandala is a good place to start. You will improve your skills as you follow this easy, step-by-step mandala drawing tutorial. All you will need is a sheet of paper and something with which to draw. Pay close attention to the highlighted blue lines, as these indicate new marks to be made in each step.
If you have crayons, colored pencils, markers or paints handy, you can use these to color your finished mandala. Historically, mandalas have included a range of bright colors. Even the colors in ancient mandalas held meaning. What will yours mean?
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1. Begin by drawing a circle.
2. Draw a second circle surrounding the first. This completes the outline of the mandala.
3. Draw two more circles within the first, one inside the other. The mandala should now resemble a wheel.
4. Enclose nearly circular shapes between the inner circle and the outer circles. For each shape, use two curved lines. The result should resemble the petals of a flower.
5. Add detail within each petal. Enclose a nearly circular shape at the base of each petal, with an ovular shape surrounding it.
6. Draw many, many short, straight lines between the outmost circles. In the center of the drawing, sketch a very small circle with another circle inside it.
7. Continue adding detail to your mandala. At the base of each petal, within the inner circle, draw tiny circles.
8. In the center of the drawing, around the tiny central circles, draw two open petal shapes. For each petal, use two curved lines, open to the center but meeting in sharp points at the inner circle.
9. Draw two more petals in the center of the mandala, connecting with the first to enclose a flower-like design.
10. Color your mandala. Be creative!
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