Bringing culture to campus: The Mystical Arts of Tibet

Navigate Left
Navigate Right
Navigate Left
Navigate Right

Emma Smith

The Multicultural Student Center aimed to raise awareness of other cultures all around the world, but last week the organization took it to another level by bringing Tibet to Statesboro.

The Mystical Arts of Tibet, a world tour founded in 1988 and endorsed by the Dalai Lama and actor Richard Gere, has made its way to Georgia Southern University for the first time due to an outreach from the Multicultural Student Center.

About the program

Since Monday, Oct. 30, the tour’s artists, Tibetan Buddhist monks from the Drepung Loseling Monastery, have been constructing a mandala sand painting in the Russell Union Commons.

The mandala is an ancient art form said to purify and restore the environment and population. It is created by carefully placing millions of grains of sand together. At the end of the process, a closing ceremony is held in which the Mandala is taken apart and the sands are scattered.

According to its website, the Mystical Arts of Tibet’s goal is to promote world peace and spiritual healing through Tibetan arts and culture.

The touring monks from the Drepung Loseling Monastery are not full-time professional artists, but legitimate monks “taking time off from their life-long devotion to contemplation and study to participate in the tour”, the website says.

The Sand

According to an article published by the Ancient History Encyclopedia, the sand used to construct the mandala is actually white rock dyed with colored ink. Monks use this material because it is more resistant to being shifted by sudden movements than regular sand.

Different materials are typically used to make different colors. For example, white is normally made from crushed gypsum, red from sandstone and yellow from ochre.

Cornmeal, flower, roots and bark are also used in the construction process sometimes.

How it relates to students

Director Takeshia Brown says the Multicultural Student Center’s staff thought this program would be especially interesting to students.

“All of the programs that we plan are about the opportunity for students to engage in cultural awareness activities and figure out how we’re all connected,” Brown said.

Brown also said she thinks the program’s relevance to American culture was a key aspect in sparking students’ interest.

“I know we have a lot of students who are fans of the show House of Cards and the monks who were in a certain episode are actually affiliated with the same monastery as the Mystical Arts of Tibet,” Brown said. “Also, a lot of people draw or have some sort of mandala on their bodies, so we figured this would be a cool way to tie into something popular and trendy, but also an opportunity to educate people about the cultural tie with it.”

Jamie Diefenderfer undeclared sophomore, says there is definitely an abundance of cultural awareness on campus.

“It’s definitely put forth here a lot,” Diefenderfer said. “You see it in FYE classes and the dining halls and I know French Week and stuff like that is coming up soon too.”

Chukwudalu Fab-Ukozor, senior geology major, says he feels that the school does a pretty decent job of spreading cultural awareness.

Fad-Ukovo said, “There are plenty of groups here that do a good job of representing other countries, including Nigeria which is where I’m from.”