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A Sacred Art

“Awesome!”

Then the artwork was gone.

But not from the memories of the University of Wyoming students who experienced the creation of an intricate mandala sand painting by a group of Tibetan Monks from the Drepung Loseling Monastery in India.

A crowd inside the Wyoming Union witnessed the monks work over several days in the Skylight Lounge. The sand painting was part of  the annual Martin Luther King Days of Dialogue (MLK Days/DOD) week activities celebrating cultural diversity.

“I thought it was awesome that the monks could come to Wyoming,” said Trevor Cook, a freshman theatre major. “The sand painting is amazing, and I feel happy being able to be a part in this and witness their culture.”

He wasn’t the only UW student to be impressed with the work of the monks.

“Being able to see a piece of culture being made and brought to life in a place other than a book or the Internet was really inspiring,” said Joshua Smith, a junior communications major. “The amount of work and dedication these monks have is really amazing.”

According to tradition, the monks use mandala sand painting as a tool for blessing and re-consecrating the earth and all its inhabitants. The design is drawn from their traditional iconography, using sacred geometric art and symbols from Tibetan Buddhism. After a concluding blessing ceremony, the sand painting is swept up; some to be given to audience members, the rest to be poured in a nearby stream so the grains can find their way to the ocean.

“It’s really cool,” added Heidi Hanekamp, a freshman molecular biology/physiology major. “I’ve never seen anything like this. I think it’s great that UW brings stuff like this here to educate the students.”

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Creation of Sacred Art

Tibetan Monks create mandala sand painting.
Tibetan Monks create a mandala sand painting.

Preparation of the Tools

Colored sand and utensils for making mandala sand painting
A monk prepares colored sand and utensils for use in creating a sand painting.

Temporary Beauty

The colorful mandala sand painting.
The colorful mandala sand painting which was deconstructed after its creation according to tradition.

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