The hidden path : an elementary view of the symbols in the Kālachakra Mandala
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The overall goal of this research project and associated creative work is to assist the general public in reading the Kālachakra mandala. A prominent type of Tibetan Buddhist art, it has been employed by the Fourteenth Dalai Lama as a means of promoting Tibetan culture. Understanding the Kālachakra mandala is a means of understanding Tibetan Buddhism, which can assist in transmitting and preserving the related culture. Despite years of disseminating the Kālachakra mandala, a lack of understanding still surrounds it, which is due to three main reasons: the complexity of related academic resources; occasional incorrect information given on the mandala; and commonly held misconceptions in the West. These factors have not only prevented people from gaining a correct understanding of the Kālachakra mandala but also generated negative influences on the transmission of Tibetan Buddhism and its associated culture. Therefore, I use the concept of the five elements (earth, water, fire, air, and the void) to provide an interpretive ‘bridge’ or ‘path’ towards a better understanding of the Kālachakra mandala. In this way, the symbols are no longer perceived individually, as in most books on maṇḍalas; instead, they are perceived in the organised context of the five elements. The posters are stylised with a secular twist; they are used as ‘visual texts’ in the wall charts so that a wider range of viewers (from both Western and Eastern backgrounds) will be able to identify these esoteric symbols. Consequently, the integration of the above processes not only reveals the relationship between every single symbol that can lead to an accessible understanding, but also ensures the correct reading of the Kālachakra maṇḍala within a Tibetan context. This method can be extended to the reading of other types of maṇḍalas as well as the interpretation of wider range of Tibetan Buddhist artworks.
Thesis (PhD Doctorate)
Doctor of Visual Arts (DVA)
Queensland College of Art
The author owns the copyright in this thesis, unless stated otherwise.
Tibetan Buddhist art