Free and Open to the public
The mandala is one of the most intriguing artistic expressions of Tibetan Buddhism, where it occurs in almost uncountable forms, formats and functions. Nevertheless, despite its many forms, its multivalent symbolism and its usage at different levels of Buddhist practice, the mandala of the Tibetan tradition is already highly systematized and incorporates a number of conventions.
Taking the standard Tibetan depictions of the mandala as a point of departure, this lecture considers the history, meaning and relationship of its component parts. Using the earliest depictions of mandalas in Buddhist contexts from India to Dunhuang a number of principles crucial for understanding the Tibetan mandala can be deduced. A comparison of these mandala depictions and their descriptions in early tantric sources further reveals the gradual evolution of the mandala until it reaches its systematized form in Tibet and Nepal.
Stanford Continuing Studies EVT 253
Christian Luczanits, Visiting Professor of Religious Studies, Stanford University during winter 2010, is a specialist in Buddhist art, with a research focus on India and Tibet. He is the author of Buddhist Sculpture in Clay: Early Western Himalayan Art, Late 10th to Early 13th Centuries (2004) and other works on the western Himalaya, as well as numerous contributions to the literature on Buddhist art in both Indian and Tibetan cultural contexts. A graduate of the University of Vienna, Prof. Luczanits has taught at Vienna, Freie Universität, and U.C. Berkeley.