Do This: Sand Mandalas at MFA

Ancient beliefs made into sand art at St. Pete's Museum of Fine Arts.

click to enlarge Lama Losang Samten, a Tibetan scholar and former Buddhist monk, served as the attendant to the Dalai Lama. - Museum of Fine Arts
Museum of Fine Arts
Lama Losang Samten, a Tibetan scholar and former Buddhist monk, served as the attendant to the Dalai Lama.

Sand Mandalas
Sun., Jan. 3-Sat., Jan 16
Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg
FREE with museum admission. More info.

In Sanskrit, "mandala" means circle. For Buddhists, a mandala is a physical representation of the universe, often called "visual scripture." For a few weeks in January — starting on January 3 — you can see a mandala made art. Tibetan scholar Lama Losang Samten will paint a sand mandala at St. Petersburg's Museum of Fine Arts

Losang started demonstrating sand painting in the West in 1988, and in the years since he's painted sand mandalas in the American Museum of Natural History (NY), the Asian Art Museum (San Francisco) and at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. He also served as the religious technical advisor/sand mandala supervisor for Kundun, Martin Scorsese's film about the Dalai Lama. Losang will introduce the film at the MFA on January 7 at 6:30 p.m.

Practitioners create sand mandalas with care and accuracy, as believers see mandalas as dwellings for enlightened beings. The goal is to breathe life into the sacred symbols as a way to share positive messages. 

Here's how you can participate while Losang's at the MFA over the coming weeks:

January 3, 12 p.m.: Drawing of the mandala
January 4 - January 15, 10 a.m. - noon and 1-5 p.m.: Creation of the mandala (day of rest on January 11; work will resume on the 12)
January 4, 2 p.m.: Blessing of the sand
January 9, 2 p.m.: book signing: Ancient Teachings in Modern Times by Losang Samten, Museum Store
January 16, noon: dismantling ceremony

About The Author

Cathy Salustri

Cathy's portfolio includes pieces for Visit Florida, USA Today and regional and local press. In 2016, UPF published Backroads of Paradise, her travel narrative about retracing the WPA-era Florida driving tours that was featured in The New York Times. Cathy speaks about Florida history for the Osher Lifelong Learning...
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