Mandalas created with paints & pigments
The category of painted mandala is called ‘thangka‘: a traditional tibetan Tibetan Buddhist scroll painting (to be easily transported and unrolled), created with the finest brushes, pigment or paints – and a lot of patience.
Mandala of Compassion, painted by Carmen Mensink
A traditional Buddhist mandala is very detailed, and each detail bears a deep meaning. You can say a mandala is the visual expression of the highest level of consciousness, the ultimate state of enlightenment, which is the goal of the spiritual path in the Buddhist tradition.
To sketch a mandala the painter needs the exact knowledge of the measurements and proportions of the particular mandala as it is established by the Buddhist iconography and passed on for many centuries from teacher to student. A grid pattern that contains these proportions is therefore essential to establish the continuity and correct transmission of the mandala.
These pictures show thangka painter Carmen Mensink working on the Mandala of Compassion. It is actually the mandala, or palace, of the Buddha of Compassion, called Chenrezig in Tibetan, or Avalokiteshvara in Sanskrit.
As you can see, the canvas is set up and prepared in a traditional wooden frame. The making of a mandala thangka takes a very long time, as first the mandala need to be sketched onto the canvas in the right proportions following the ancient grid patterns, after which the long painting procedure starts, with very fine brushes. This mandala took Carmen about 4 weeks fulltime; 8hrs a day for 30 days. In the picture below she’s working on the outer ring of fire; the colored flames are protecting the inner part of it.
The finished, original mandala by Carmen Mensink is sold, but the reproductions of her thangkas can be purchased online. They are high quality reproductions on canvas, mounted in the traditional brocades as you can see here. All different kind of Buddhas are available too.
Painting a Mandala according to the Tibetan Thangka Tradition:
This video shows you the enormous amount of work and detail that goes into painting a Buddhist mandala.
Learn how to paint a mandala?
Check the upcoming thangka workshops or subscribe to the Newsletter on Tibetan Buddhist Art to automatically stay updated on future mandala painting courses.