the sand mandala and the mandala coloring area in The Light Show

Relax with Coloring Page Inspired by a Tibetan Sand Mandala

Editor's Note: You can enjoy the coloring activity and see the Hayagriva Mandala in The Light Show through May 3, 2020.

At the Denver Art Museum, we have in our collection one of very few Tibetan sand mandalas to be permanently installed in a museum. They are traditionally dismantled after construction as a symbolic reference to the impermanence of life and the transitory nature of life in Buddhist thought. Our mandala, created in 1996 by Tibetan monks from Sera Jey monastery in India, was created specifically for preservation so that Denver audiences could see and learn from the work for years to come.

Multi-colored Hayagriva sand mandala
Hayagriva Mandala, by monk-artists of Seraje Monastic University, India: Geshe Thubten Sonam (b. 1965, Tibet), Sonam Woser (b. 1964, Tibet), Lobsang Lungrig (b. 1974, Tibet), 1996; Sand mixed with mineral pigments. Denver Art Museum purchase with funds from the Asian Art Association, Mr. and Mrs. Yale H. Lewis, NBT Foundation, Fay Shwayder, and the Asian Art Department Acquisition Fund, 1996.54

Inspired by Adult Coloring Books

In September 2016, our team decided to try a new component near the Tibetan sand mandala in the Tibet Nepal gallery where visitors could sit, meditate, and color their own mandala. We were inspired by the recent popularity of adult coloring books (and, many of them seem to be mandala coloring books). Our coloring mandala takes visual cues from the Tibetan one, though it omits religious imagery in favor of a more universal design. Whereas the Tibetan monks created the DAM sand mandala as a meditation on the Buddhist deity Hayagriva (the deity referenced by the Sanskrit seed syllable at the center), we wanted visitors to emulate the meditative aspect in an accessible way.

A recent study shows coloring is a great way to boost your mood (and researchers even used a mandala as an example).

girl coloring a mandala coloring page

Sarah Magnatta was an interpretive specialist of Asian art in the learning and engagement department at the Denver Art Museum.

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