The Tibetan Art of Impermanence — a Photo Essay

by Andras Corban Arthen
The Gyuto monks of Tibet once again created an elaborate sand mandala during the course of the Parliament, to invoke peace and healing in the world and for the event. This is a visual account of that process.
The mandala is transferred from mind to canvas as a sketch.
Layers of fine colored sand are slowly applied over the sketch lines.
Gradually, with great care and breath control, the intricate details emerge.
The sand is applied through channeled metal rods, one rubbing against the other with precise control to release the exact amount of sand needed.
Painstakingly, grain upon grain, layer upon layer, over the span of a week the mandala is completed.
On the final day, the monks approach and circle the finished work, praying and chanting.
With a special metal tool, the mandala is scored and divided into eight segments.
Then, brushes in hand, the monks meticulously destroy what it took them so long to create…
…until nothing is left but a pile of colored sand.
The head monk carefully places the sand in a brass urn, in which it will be transported to the river to be released into the waters. Nothing lasts. Change is always. Change is all.
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