Sunday, April 27, 2014

Sand painting in Asia and North America

Click thumbnails to view larger images on source pages.
Sand painting in Millicent Rogers Museum
Navajo sand painting
Rangoli in Chennai
Indian kolam

Some cultures that practice impermanent sand painting:

Region Materials Description
Navajo Nationcrushed sandstone, cornmeal, pollen, charcoal, pulverized flowers1,2Called "places where the gods come and go", dry paintings serve as pathways for the healing power of the Holy People.3 They contain mythic symbols, often with representations of ancient heroes/heroines or the Holy People.3,4

As part of a healing ceremony, the sand painter starts the painting at sunrise.3 The patient absorbs the powers depicted in it and reestablishes a sense of connection to all life.1,3 At sunset, the painting is destroyed and returned to the earth.3,4
India colored sand, rice flour,
stone powder,
vermilion, turmeric, chalk, flower petals5,6
Called by different names in different regions, the folk art of kolam/rangoli creates sacred welcoming areas for Hindu gods.6 Usually created by women, these powder paintings contain auspicious or religious symbols.6,7

In Tamil Nadu, women draw rice flour kolams every morning to invite the goddess of wealth into the home, in addition to providing food for ants and other creatures in a gesture of peaceful coexistence.7 More complex kolams are made for festivals and wedding celebrations.6,7
Tibetdyed stone powder, crushed gypsum, yellow ochre, red sandstone, charcoal8The Tantric Buddhist art of making a "mandala of colored powders" is a team effort that takes days or weeks.9 Following the prescriptions of traditional iconography, the sand mandalas contain deity depictions and spiritual symbols.8,9

After completion, the mandala is destroyed in a dissolution ceremony as a reminder of the impermanence of life. The sands are deposited in a nearby body of water, with the intention that the healing blessing of the mandala will be carried to the ocean, where it can spread around the world to heal the planet.10

Other societies that practice sand painting include, but are not limited to, Pueblo Indians, some Plains and California Indians11 and Japanese.12

  1. Native American Sand Painting -
  2. Liptak, Karen, Indians of the Southwest, p60
  3. Navajo Sandpaintings -
  4. Liptak, Karen, Indians of the Southwest, p58
  5. Kolams on
  6. Rangoli on Wikipedia
  7. Kolam on wikipedia
  8. Sand Mandala on wikipedia
  9. Mandala Sand Painting on
  10. Mandala Sand Painting: A Sacred Tibetan Art
  11. Sand Painting on Encyclopedia Britannica
  12. Bonseki on wikipedia

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