Tibetan monks in residence at the Pitt Rivers

Tuesday 5 to Sunday 10 November



Sand Mandala Installation

Tuesday 5 to Sunday 10 November
© Tashi Lhunpo Monastery UK Trust

The process begins on Tuesday morning with dedication prayers and ends with a destruction ceremony and procession through the University Parks on Sunday.

Visitors are welcome to drop in throughout the week and watch the monks as they work making the sand mandala. Each day will begin with chants.

To be part of the closing ceremony and procession, come along to the Museum for 10.45 on Sunday. As a keepsake, you will also be able to take away some of the sand used to make the mandala.

What is a sand mandala?

An artistic tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, a mandala is a symbolic picture of the universe representing an imagined palace contemplated during meditation. A sand mandala is a rendering of this imagined palace made out of millions of grains of coloured sand, painstakingly laid into an intricate pattern.

Each part of the design signifies an aspect of wisdom or a guiding principle. The purpose of the sand mandala is to heal and transform ordinary minds into enlightened ones.

The mandala is worked on from the centre out by a group of monks. Once finished, and the relevant ceremonies and contemplations are completed, the sand mandala is ritualistically destroyed. The destruction symbolises the Buddhist doctrinal belief in the transitory nature of material life. Traditionally the sand is then swept up and poured into a river so that its healing powers can be carried to distant places.

After Hours: Buddha goes Pop (art)

After hoursWednesday 6 November, 19.00-22.00

Enjoy an atmospheric evening over a glass of wine at this special event held in partnership with the Tashi Lhunpo Monastery UK Trust and Dr Clare Harris, University of Oxford.

The galleries will be open from 19.00 for guests to enjoy the free evening programme:
  • Head up to the Lower Gallery to find out about the sand mandala that’s being made there (19.30)
  • The Buddha Goes Pop: An Introduction to Tibetan Contemporary Art, a talk by Dr Clare Harris inspired by her book, The Museum on the Roof of the World (20.00-21.00)
  • Monk-led mini-workshop sessions exploring mandala making, prayer wheel making, butter sculpting, prayer flag printing, and the Tibetan language (19.30-21.30 )

There will also be genuine Tibetan objects available for guests to handle and learn about, live music and performances, and a Tibet trail around the Museum.

Throughout the evening refreshments will be available from our cash bar and the Museum shop will be open, offering a selection of hand-crafted Tibetan products.

Family Activities

© Tashi Lhunpo Monastery UK Trust
Saturday 9 November, 13.00-16.00

Come along to have a go at making traditional Tibetan Buddhist objects whilst also learning a little of the language! There will be handling objects and lots of interesting photos on hand too:

  • Help make a collective sand mandala
  • Make a prayer wheel
  • Have a go at butter sculpture
  • Print a prayer flag
  • Try Tibetan calligraphy
  • Tackle a Tibet object trail