Museum of International Folk Art

Tibetan Monks to Construct a Mandala Sand Painting and Perform Special Ceremonies in Santa Fe, August 10-14, 2016

August 01, 2016


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – August 1, 2016, (Santa Fe, N.M.) Tibetan Buddhist monks from Drepung Loseling Monastery will construct a Mandala Sand Painting Wednesday, August 10 to Sunday, August 14 at the Museum of International Folk Art during the museum’s open hours (10:00am – 5:00pm).

From all the artistic traditions of Tantric Buddhism, that of painting with colored sand ranks as one of the most unique and exquisite. Millions of grains of sand are painstakingly laid into place on a flat platform over a period of days or weeks to form the image of a mandala. To date the monks have created mandala sand paintings in more than 100 museums, art centers, and colleges and universities in the United States and Europe.

Mandala is a Sanskrit word meaning sacred cosmogram. These cosmograms can be created in various media, such as watercolor on canvas, wood carvings, and so forth. However, the most spectacular and enduringly popular are those made from colored sand.

In general all mandalas have outer, inner and secret meanings. On the outer level they represent the world in its divine form; on the inner level they represent a map by which the ordinary human mind is transformed into enlightened mind; and on the secret level they depict the primordially perfect balance of the subtle energies of the body and the clear light dimension of the mind. The creation of a sand painting is said to effect purification and healing on these three levels.

The mandala sand painting begins with an opening ceremony, during which the lamas consecrate the site and call forth the forces of goodness. This is done by means of chanting, music and mantra recitation, and will be held on Wednesday, August 10 at 12:00pm noon.

The lamas begin the exhibit by drawing an outline of the mandala on the wooden platform. On the following days they lay the colored sands. Each monk holds a traditional metal funnel called a chakpur while running a metal rod on its grated surface. The vibration causes the sands to flow like liquid onto the platform.

Traditionally most sand mandalas are destroyed shortly after their completion. This is done as a metaphor for 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. The closing ceremony will be held on Sunday, August 14 at 2:30pm.

Musem of International Folk Art events are free with museum admission. Youth sixteen and under and Musem of New Mexico Foundation Members are always free.


Wed, August 10
Noon: Mandala Opening Ceremony (Neutrogena Lobby)
1 pm - 5 pm: Mandala Construction by Monks & Viewing  (Neutrogena Lobby)
1 pm – 4 pm: Community Sand Painting by museum visitors (Atrium)

Thurs, August 11
10 am - 5 pm: Mandala Construction by Monks & Viewing (Neutrogena Lobby)
10 am – 12pm & 1 – 4 pm: Community Sand Painting by museum visitors (Atrium)

Fri, August 12
10 am - 5 pm: Mandala Construction by Monks & Viewing (Neutrogena Lobby)
10 am – 12pm & 1 – 4 pm: Community Sand Painting by museum visitors (Atrium)
5:45 pm: Opening Chant at Ethnographic Art Show (5-10 min.) (Convention Center)

Sat, August 13
10 am - 3 pm   Mandala Construction 
10 am – 12pm & 1 – 4 pm: Community Sand Painting by museum visitors (Atrium)
2 pm:  Tara Puja
7:30 pm: Sacred Music Sacred Dance performance (at James A. Little Theatre)
Tickets and information at or 505-886-1251

Sun, August 14
10 am - 1 pm: Mandala Construction by Monks & Viewing
1 – 4 pm: Community Sand Painting by museum visitors (Atrium)
1 pm: Lecture on "Symbolism of the Mandala" (Auditorium)
2:30 pm - 4 pm: Mandala Dissolution Closing Ceremony

Media Contact:
Jennifer Padilla


The Museum of International Folk Art is a division of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs.

The Museum of International Folk Art’s mission is "to enrich the human spirit by connecting people with the arts, traditions and cultures of the world." Founded in 1953 by Florence Dibell Bartlett, the museum holds the world’s largest international folk art collection of more than 150,000 objects from six continents and over 150 nations.

The museum’s collections represent a broad range of global artists whose artistic expressions make Santa Fe an international crossroads of culture. For many visitors, fascination with folk art begins upon seeing the whimsical toys and traditional objects within the Girard Collection. For others, the international textiles, ceramics, carvings and other cultural treasures in the Neutrogena Collection provide the allure.  The museum’s historic and contemporary Latino and Hispano folk art collections, spanning the Spanish Colonial period to modern-day New Mexico, reflect how artists respond to their time and place in ways both delightful and sobering. In 2010, the museum opened the Mark Naylor and Dale Gunn Gallery of Conscience, where a series of exhibitions encourage visitors to exchange ideas on complex issues of human rights and social justice.

Over 90,000 national and international visitors visit the Museum International Folk Art every year. Through folk art, the museum encourages all to find a common ground upon which to craft better lives for all. 

Museum exhibitions and programs are supported by donors to the Museum of New Mexico Foundation and its Director’s Leadership Fund, Exhibitions Development Fund, and Fund for Museum Education, as well as by the International Folk Art Foundation, also established by museum founder Florence Dibell Bartlett.


ADMISSION: Adult single-museum admission is $6 for New Mexico residents, $9 for out-of-state visitors; Students with I.D. receive a one-dollar discount. Wednesdays: New Mexico resident seniors (60+) with I.D. are free. Sundays: New Mexico residents with I.D. are admitted free. Youth 16 and under and Foundation Members always free.

LOCATION: On Museum Hill, 706 Camino Lejo, off the Old Santa Fe Trail, in Santa Fe New Mexico. Abundant free parking.
HOURS: Daily 10am to 5 pm, May through October.
Mailing address:  P.O. Box 2087, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87504-2087
By telephone: 505-476-1200
By e-mail:

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Related Photos

Tibetan Sand Mandala
Drepung Loseling Monks Over Mandala
Tibetan Monk Making a Mandala

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