Tibetan Sand Mandala Project at the Helen E. Copeland Gallery

The MSU School of Art is proud to present a Tibetan Sand Mandala Project at the Helen E. Copeland Gallery. The Venerable Ngawang Chojor, who is a senior monk from Namgyal Monastery, will construct the mandala, a sacred Buddhist practice, in the Helen E. Copeland Gallery at the School of Art. The presentation begins Thursday, October 29 at 11 a.m. with a blessing ceremony. Chojor will work on the mandala, an intricate design “painted” with various colors of fine sand, continuously on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sunday from 12-noon to 3:00 p.m., for public viewing. Chojor’s visit to Bozeman concludes with the traditional destruction of the mandala and the burial of the sand in the ground outside Haynes Hall. Chojor will be on hand to answer visitors’ questions about the mandala. A lecture will be held, Thursday, October 29 from 5:10-6:00pm in Cheever 215 that will discuss the project.  There will also be a special presentation by the Tibetan Children’s Education Foundation at the Bozeman High School Cafeteria, Thursday, from 7-9pm. Admission to all events is free and open to the public.

Created meticulously by hand, sand mandalas follow traditional patterns and are objects of meditation that represent the universal qualities of harmony, balance, community, and pure wisdom. The construction of the sand mandala begins with an opening ceremony in which the Tibetan monks bless the area. After drawing an outline of the mandala on a wood backing, the monks carefully lay colored sands over the design using traditional metal funnels called chak-pur. There are many types of mandala images, each with it’s own cosmology, symbols, and meanings. Traditionally, most sand mandalas are destroyed shortly after completion, as a metaphor for the impermanence of life. The intricate geometric design is swept up and the sands placed in an urn and dispersed, a process, which Tibetans believe carries the mandala’s blessing throughout the world. Chojor will bury the sand from the gallery’s mandala at the conclusion of the demonstration on Sunday at 3:00 p.m.

The Venerable Ngawang Chojor is the most accomplished sand mandala constructor alive today and is the primary teacher of the monks who construct sand mandalas. His visit is made possible by the Tibetan Children’s Education Foundation in Helena, serving Tibetan refugees.

The Helen E. Copeland Gallery is located on the second floor of Haynes Hall on the MSU-Bozeman campus.  Haynes Hall is on 11th Avenue near the duck pond.  For more information, please call Erin W. Anderson at 994-2562.

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