Mandala on the Yampa

Drepung Loseling Monks working on the 2015 Green Tara mandala
August 9, 2022 to August 14, 2022
The Drepung Loseling Monks return to Bud Werner Library August 9-14, 2022

Tibetan Buddhist monks from Drepung Loseling Monastery return for a residency at Bud Werner Library, where they will create a Mandala Sand Painting from Tuesday, Aug. 9 through Sunday, Aug. 14 in Library Hall. Steamboat Springs residents and visitors will have first-hand experience with a rare and beautiful art form that travels here from the high Himalayas as the monks laid down millions of grains of colorful sand to form an intricate mandala image. In addition the monks will perform Sacred Music and Sacred Dance at the Strings Music Festival, host a community blessing puja at Perry-Mansfield, lead a community meditation at the Yampa River Botanic Park, and offer two free talks during their time in Steamboat. A Community Sand Painting designed by local artist Jill Bergman will provide everyone an opportunity try their hands at this delicate art as well.

Mandala Sand Painting is an ancient art form designed to purify and heal the environment and its inhabitants. From all the artistic traditions of Tantric Buddhism, painting with colored sand ranks as one of the most unique and exquisite. To date, the monks have created mandala sand paintings in more than 100 museums, art centers, and colleges and universities around the United States and Europe, including residencies at the Bud Werner Memorial Library in 2010 and  2015.

For 2022, the monks will create an Akshobya Mandala. Akshobya is the unshakeable victor of conflict resolution and peace. This mandala is created to transform negativity into insight stability. This is one of the mandala sand paintings that were made in the wake of 9/11. Check out the full 2022 residency!

The Mandala Sand Painting begins with an opening ceremony for the community, during which the monks bless the site and call forth the forces of goodness with chanting, music and mantra recitation. They then draw an outline of the mandala on their wooden platform using chalk, compass and string. The monks spend the following days skillfully placing colored grains of sand using a traditional metal funnel called a chakpur while running a metal rod along its ribbed surface. The vibration causes the sands to flow like liquid onto the platform.

The mandala ends with a tradition that illustrates the impermanence of life: The monks destroy their Mandala and Paintings shortly after completion. The colorful sands are swept up and placed in an urn during a closing ceremony – after which the monks will lead the community outside along the riverbank and the sands will be sent ceremoniously down the Yampa River to carry a healing blessing to the ocean and the rest of the world.

Special thanks to our lead presenting partners, Perry-Mansfield and Strings Music Festival.

Documenting the 2022 Mandala on the Yampa residency

Follow our blog throughout the monks' visit! You'll find in-depth details about all the 2022 Mandala on the Yampa events, plus blog entries where the library will post photos of the mandala's progression, stories from the residency and educational information for a deeper dive.

Mandala on the Yampa Schedule

Tuesday, Aug. 9

1 p.m.    Opening Ceremony and Drawing of the Lines for the Akshobya Mandala Sand Painting in Library Hall
7 p.m.    Public talk in Library Hall: The Symbolism of the Sand Mandala (suggested for ages 10+)
 

Wednesday, Aug. 10

10 a.m. - 5 p.m.   Monks work on the Mandala Sand Painting in Library Hall
10 a.m. - 5 p.m.   Community Sand Painting in Library Hall

Thursday, Aug. 11

10 a.m. - 2 p.m.   Monks work on the Mandala Sand Painting in Library Hall
10 a.m. - 2 p.m.   Community Sand Painting in Library Hall
7 p.m.   Sacred Music Sacred Dance performance at the Strings Pavilion

Friday, Aug. 12

8:30 a.m.   Coffee Talk at the Strings Pavilion: Tibet Today
10 a.m. - 6 p.m.   Monks work on the Mandala Sand Painting in Library Hall
10 a.m. - 6 p.m.   Community Sand Painting in Library Hall

Saturday, Aug. 13 

8:30 a.m.   Sang-Sol Puja at Perry-Mansfield, a smoke and incense blessing ceremony conducted to enhance well-being, fortune and to purify the environment.
10 a.m. - 6 p.m.   Monks work on the Mandala Sand Painting in Library Hall
10 a.m. - 6 p.m.   Community Sand Painting in Library Hall

Sunday, Aug. 14

8:30 a.m.    Community meditation at Yampa River Botanic Park
10 a.m. - 6 p.m.   Monks work on the Mandala Sand Painting in Library Hall
10 a.m. - 6 p.m.   Community Sand Painting in Library Hall
7 p.m. Closing ceremony, traveling from Library Hall to the banks of the Yampa River in front of Bud Werner Library