Sandpainting: Eco-Friendly, Mystical and Moving

After coming across a video of Ukrainian Sand Artist Kseniya Simonova I was compelled to do a little research of my own:

The Miracle of Sand

Sand is a naturally occurring granular material composed of finely divided rock and mineral particles. River sand is widely used for different decorative purposes. And it is also can be used for creation of works of arts.

From all the artistic traditions of Tantric Buddhism, that of painting with colored sand ranks as one of the most unique and exquisite. In Tibetan this art is called dul-tson-kyil-khor, which literally means “mandala of colored powders.” Millions of grains of sand are painstakingly laid into place on a flat platform over a period of days or weeks.

Formed of a traditional prescribed iconography that includes geometric shapes and a multitude of ancient spiritual symbols, the sand-painted mandala is used as a tool for re-consecrating the earth and its inhabitants.

On previous US tours the lamas have displayed this sacred arts in museums across the country, including the Arthur Sackler Gallery, Washington; Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago; Peabody Essex Museum, Salem; the Indianapolis Art Museum, Indianapolis; Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, and The Provincial Museum of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada.


The lamas begin the work by drawing an outline of the mandala on the wooden platform, which requires the remainder of the day. The following days see the laying of the colored sands, which is effected by pouring the sand from traditional metal funnels called chak-pur. Each monk holds a chak-pur  in one hand, while running a metal rod on its grated surface; the vibration causes the sands to flow like liquid.


Amitayus Mandala

Medicine Buddha Mandala

Yamantaka Mandala

Traditionally most sand mandalas are destroyed shortly after their completion. This is done as a metaphor of the impermanence of life. The sands are swept up and placed in an urn; to fulfill the function of healing, half is distributed to the audience at the closing ceremony, while the remainder is carried to a nearby body of water, where it is deposited. The waters then carry the healing blessing to the ocean, and from there it spreads throughout the world for planetary healing.

Often when we hear about sand painting we think of our indigenous Native American Indians, and interestingly enough they too viewed sand painting as a spiritual healing system rather than art for art’s sake. Once their healing ceremony was completed their sand painting would also be destroyed.    I am often amazed in the similarities of cultures separated by oceans miles apart from one another.

Certainly, the concept of creating is synonymous with healing, and there is no better time than the present to engage whether through painting, drawing, or music.  The idea of healing the world through art is a concept that touches me profoundly.  Perhaps it is a bit arrogant to think that one’s art can heal the world, but certainly we can use our creative talents to heal ourselves.  In order that we can be better people and in that we can make a difference individually.



Perhaps it’s  not so arrogant after all…

I was amazed and moved completely speechless at this video of Ukranian Sand Artist Kseniya Simonova click on the link to her video at the top of the page…you won’t regret it.

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