The mandala is a beautiful symbol that has long been used in many cultures. When looking for symbols with meaning, you cannot go wrong with choosing a mandala. In this case, we are discussing the mandala tattoo.
Anyone who has seen this tattoo will most likely be captivated by the intricate linework and attention to detail. It is a truly special design that you can get lost in when you look at it. We are the same way and that is why we wanted to discuss it.
Once a symbol to a very small group of people, the mandala has become a very popular tattoo design the world over. It’s beautiful, holds so many different meanings, and it can be blended with one or multiple other tattoo designs. Not only is it very malleable in the sense that many use the pattern within other images, but it is something that seems like it should be in an art gallery and not on someone’s body.
In this post, we are going to talk about the origins of the mandala and what makes it such a special design. We will be talking about the mandala tattoo meaning and what it means to the people that get this design tattooed on their bodies. Then we can talk about some of the different variations of the mandala tattoo and how people are using this design really creatively these days. Keep reading to find out about the mandala itself and some mandala tattoo meanings.
What is the Mandala?
The mandala, while in design is dominated by squares or triangles, has a concentric structure and actually translates to “circle” in Sanskrit. These symbols offer visual elements that balance and represent harmony and unity. The mandala is extremely versatile and can carry a number of meanings that are limited only by the creator and the observer. The overall goal of a mandala is to be a tool on one’s spiritual journey.
The mandala’s design is meant to be not only appealing visually but to absorb the mind in a way that silences chattering thoughts and allows the observer to gain a higher level of awareness. This is a very strong meaning, so people who get the mandala tattoo for this reason are usually very deep (or they want to appear so).
Mandalas are designed from the center outwards, which tends to give them a floral appearance. Because flowers are typically circular in nature, circles and flowers can be combined to create a tattoo that is symbolic of femininity, eternity and balance. Some people who plan on getting a plainer flower tattoo might change their minds when they see how unique the mandala flower design looks.
Origins of the Mandala
The mandala is a devotional image that is used by Buddhists and is said to be a symbol or diagram of a perfect universe. In many cases they are painted on scrolls and taken by monks while taking the journey on the Silk Road over the Eurasian continent.
The mandala was said to be a symbol of an ideal universe and the creation of the mandala is the transformation from suffering in the universe to living in that same universe with joy and the Buddhists believed that this symbol could bring them that peace of mind. It was also used by Buddhists as a form of aid during their meditation in which the symbol would help the person meditate to envision what a perfect self might look like.
Created by Buddhists, the mandala was produced in Japan, Bhutan, India, China, Indonesia and Tibet and dates all the way back to the 4th century. They are now created all over the world. In fact, the Tibetan Buddhist monks from the Drepung Loseling Monastery gifted a sand mandala painting to New York City as a symbol of goodwill and healing following the attacks that took down the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.
When making a mandala, a ceremony must take place in which the monks will cleanse the site they are working at and call forth all the goodwill in the universe through meditation, music and chanting. Over the next 10 days, the monks will use little metal funnels called chak-purs to pour a large amount of colored sand and at the same time, heal and purify the space and its populace. After the monks have finished creating this piece of art, they will take it back apart in a process that shows that nothing lasts forever. They will then spread the sand to share its blessings with everyone around it.
Mandala artwork is a large part of the Buddhist and Hindu religions. These designs are often depicted in sand art, so people who use this mandala tattoo meaning will usually get a black tattoo since it more closely represents the sand version. Of course, no meaning is lost if they do choose to add some color to the tattoo.
Mandala Tattoo Meaning
Many people get a mandala tattoo because they see it as a symbol of perfection. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the owners think that they are perfect, but instead that they want to strive for perfection. The tattoo is just a reminder not to settle for things in life and to always try to get the most out of life. Even if someone gets the mandala tattoo for a different reason, they can always use the “perfection” meaning later on.
Each person who observes a mandala will have a different experience but meditating on this symbol is said to make the observer relaxed and give them a resolution or clarity on their intention. This is true with any type of mandala, but it holds quite a bit more meaning when someone has their own on their skin. This is one of the many reasons why people rarely regret getting their mandala tattoos.
Mandalas have been used in almost every religion, which is why it is one of the more popular religious tattoo designs. They may be given a different name and meaning, but the basic definition remains that they are circular, spiritual works of art. Due to this, mandala tattoos are a great choice for someone who lives a deep, spiritual life.
Due to their geometric nature, tattoos containing mandalas look best on a flatter section of the body, such as the chest or back. They don’t necessarily have to be big tattoos, but most people decide to cover a whole muscle with this design. It’s pretty rare to see a classic mandala tattoo design that wraps around any part of the owner’s body unless it is just a single part of a larger tattoo.
The most common mandala tattoo design is the “rose window” design. Go into just about any church and you will see this exact same design someone on the stained glass windows. While this certainly can be a religious tattoo, some people will get it simply because they like the way that it looks. The glassy look that it has catches the eye, so some people will get it since it is an attractive tattoo regardless of what part of the body it’s on.
There are a lot of different mandala tattoo meanings, but this is one of those tattoos that some people will get just for its looks. That doesn’t mean that the tattoo holds no meaning to those people, though. As you can see above, there are so many meanings that they can attach to the mandala tattoo so it is a safe choice when you just want something that looks good tattooed on your skin.
Mandala Tattoo Variations
When you see a mandala, in most cases you can tell that not everyone is the same. It is art and being art means that things are always different and interpreted differently as well. The mandala tattoo can be formed in many ways and includes many symbols that are important in Buddhism. Below are some examples of popular mandala tattoos. We understand you’ve probably seen many more styles but these are just a few of the mandala tattoos that seem to be used more.
Mandala Within Animals Tattoo
Many people choose to use animals that are important in the Buddhist religion as an outline with mandala patterns on the inside. In the majority of cases we’ve seen, people tend to use elephants as their animals of choice because of the importance of this majestic animal to the people who follow the Buddhist religion. However, it isn’t the only animal we’ve seen used and some others include wolves, birds and lions to name a few. Whether it is strictly for aesthetic reasons or it has meaning, this is one way we see the mandala being tattooed.
Wheel with Eight Spokes Mandala Tattoo
This circular shape works great with the idea of the mandala because a wheel is perfectly round which helps with the representation of a perfect universe. The Eightfold Path of Buddhism is represented in the eight spokes and they involve a series of righteous actions and thoughts that are meant to lead a person on the path to enlightenment.
Mandala with Lotus Tattoo
The mandala with the lotus is another popular way that people will get the mandala tattoo inked. The lotus flower is one of the most powerful symbols in the Buddhist practice. The way the lotus is perfectly symmetrical in most cases represents balance in life. The lotus is a beautiful flower that sits on top of a pond, rooted in mud and muck. It is a symbol that beautiful things can come from the darkness much like how a person is able to go from their current life to a life of enlightenment.
Mandala with Bell Tattoo
The bell shape is seen in the mandala tattoo and is a symbol of emptying the mind to allow clarity and wisdom to enter while being open to the idea of taking this positive energy in.
Mandala with Lace Tattoo
Finally, in many cases, we will see the mandala with lace-looking, fine lines coming down off the mandala. Most of the time this is just for looks and it does look great. It is also said to symbolize the beauty of the perfect life that we are all trying to attain.
All in all, the best decision when designing a mandala tattoo is to choose colors, symbols and shapes that have a special meaning to you. Many choose to incorporate their favorite colors, religious or spiritual symbols or animals, their age, or other items of significance to their lives. The mandala tattoo isn’t the easiest tattoo to design, but that’s a good thing because it is a tattoo that will hold plenty of meaning to its owner for the rest of their lives.
Take your time in finding the right artist and everything will work out for you and you will be the proud recipient of your own mandala tattoo.