Many of you have seen images of these beautiful geometric figures, which impress with balance, symmetry and harmony. Until a few years ago, we could see them in temples and objects closely related to Hinduism and Buddhism. Tattoos have become a widespread trend and almost every third person between 25 and 34 years already has at least one tattoo. A whole subculture has now emerged, which is characteristic for this type of body art. When choosing a tattoo, one should carefully consider the motif because it lasts for life. It should give us strength for the day and, of course, look very pretty. One of the most popular choices of men and women is the mandala tattoo. The truth is that mandala not only looks great, but has a deep meaning and symbolism.
Mandala is a spiritual and ritual symbol in Indian religions depicting the universe, or rather its structure. Generally speaking, “mandala” is called any geometric composition or diagram which represents the cosmos in a symbolic way. The basic form of most mandalas is a square with four doors, having the shape of T, containing a circle with a central point. In addition, this scheme depicts all Buddhist saints. The word comes from Sanskrit and means a holy circle around which everything revolves, a center with perimeter. There is a clearly defined center around which the shape is concentric. Esotericism believes that through certain colors and forms, a mandala directly targets the subconscious mind and affects areas of the psyche. Different symbols strengthen different areas of life and, for example, improve the ability to concentrate.
According to some, the introduction of mandala in modern world is due to the psychoanalyst Carl Jung. In his study of unconscious thinking through his art making Jung noticed the constantly emerging figure of a circle. Jung found that the figures he was painting were mandala and in his autobiography he mentions: “I sketched every morning in a notebook a small circular drawing, which seemed to correspond to my inner situation at the time. Only gradually did I discover what the mandala really is: the Self, the wholeness of the personality, which if all goes well is harmonious.”
The principle of mandala is found in many ancient Indian arts. For example, according to the mandala system, with all its features, temple complexes, altars and sometimes even cities are built. This structure implies the creation of a “monumental way of life”, as well as “creating a model of the world”, simple and ideal. In general, the mandala is an attempt to reflect the higher reality in the form of a picture. Mandala means spiritual wholeness, which is above the sensory world.
What is the meaning of mandala tattoo colors and shapes?
Tattoo fans will never stop looking for inspiration for their next tattoo. The meanings of mandala tattoos can be explained by the fact that the main figure of the mandala is the circle that is inscribed in the square and represents the inner Universe of man. Such a tattoo is suitable for people who are interested in Buddhism. It is very important to choose the right tattoo design, which will be applied on the body, so take your time with the choice.
Mandalas have a magical meaning in Buddhism and Hinduism. Mandala tattoos are characterized by the fact that they are round, symmetrical and oriented towards a creative center. Their round geometric pattern reminds people of equilibrium, harmony and cosmic infinity. Because of its round shape, complex tattoos with mandalas are often placed on the shoulder, back or arms. They are very decorative and are often done in the dotwork style, blackwork, traditional or neo-traditional styles, and are very rarely three-dimensional. Mandala tattoos are typically in black and gray, but can be complemented by color accents. The expressiveness of these tattoos lies in the strictly symmetrical, closed form and the detailed pattern.
Mandala tattoos are appealing to both men and women as it is believed that they carry a powerful charge of energy, so first of all you should think about the image and only then about the place of application. Typically, women prefer mandalas with many floral patterns, detailing and tender monograms along the edges. Often such tattoos are decorated with all a variety of colors while men prefer more modest patterns and larger dimensions. Men like to have such tattoos on the calves, forearms, back, neck, sleeve, etc.
Mandalas come in numerous designs and we shall have a look at the meaning of the most popular ones below. Before that, however, we would like to pay attention to the colors, as they also have a great significance for the meaning of the image and each color has its own meaning – positive or negative. In Buddhism there are five important colors – white, yellow, red, blue, green – which represent the five personifications of the Buddha. The sixth color is black.
White is a universal color that has a huge number of meanings. It can mean emptiness, purity, light, it can be symbolic for harmony, peace, rest, contemplation, openness, etc.;
Yellow – humility, serenity, enlightenment, envy, fear, effort, wisdom;
Red -, love and inner potential, vigor and ardor; power, life force, memory;
Blue – intuition, tenderness and femininity, healing, wisdom, life, infinity, purity;
Green – Meditation, nature, growth, hope, power, ambition;
Black – darkness, separation, anger, death. The black color is also used as a symbol for the need of time to rethink and change lifestyle.
As much as colors have their own significance and meaning, mandala shapes also have a special meaning. Let’s look at some of the basic and most popular mandala shapes.
Mandala circle is a symbol of infinity, unification, peace, harmony, wholeness, integrity. In addition, circles may symbolize the female energy of Yin, excellence and beauty, sincerity and sensuality, motherhood and warmth. The circle is also a symbol of eternity, symmetry and perfection.
The spiral is a symbol of movement, which indicates that everything is changing. A spiral mandala tattoo can be a symbol of infinity, evolution, spiritual growth, of rise and fall of a person who can receive, lose and regain something. Those who consider the spiral shape should pay attention to the orientation as well.
The triangle and pointed shapes are the symbol of the masculine energy Yang. Such elements possess aggressive and active energy. They can also be used as a sign of protection and attack. When a triangle is upwards it symbolizes masculinity and creativity, while a triangle which is turned down stands for femininity
A square, a rhombus and a polygon are symbols of a solid foundation, solidity and stability.
Eyes and ovals are a symbol of the “all-seeing eye.” It is recommended to use them to create a mandala of harmony and love, as ovals give care, protection and safety.
What is the meaning of mandala tattoos and symbols?
As we mentioned mandala tattoos come in a huge variety of designs. We would look at some of the most popular symbols – traditional and modern – and explain their meaning. Most often mandala tattoos feature traditional symbols with a very deep meaning. Even modern interpretations like sun, heart, tree of life, etc., derive the images from the most popular traditional motifs.
Lotus, with its symmetrical shape, is one of the most important and significant symbols in Buddhism which is used to depict balance, purity and unity. Lotus is native to Asia and has always been highly appreciated in Eastern cultures. In Buddhism it is believed that the souls appear from the blossoming flower and then enter into the body of newborns. Although having generally the same meaning in Hinduism, the lotus is also an expression of purity of soul and the chakras – the energy centers of health and spirituality. Lotus mandalas come in hundreds of designs and you can choose from a variety of meanings – immortality, perfection and innocence, etc. The lotus flower demonstrates the superiority of light over darkness, good over evil and justice over dishonesty. It is believed that the combination of a mandala and a lotus in a tattoo helps to find the right decision, and also protects a person from evil forces. In India lotus is a sacred plant and very often the inner square in the mandala is divided into triangles so that it looks like a lotus which means that in the center of the universe there are always spiritual beings. Due to its bowl like shape, the flower is considered as a symbol of femininity, beauty, tenderness, purity, fertility. When the triangles in the mandala resemble the petals of a lotus, it means harmony, successful completion of all affairs and luck.
Yantra is one of these symbols and in Hindu religion this is a repetitive mantra. In mandala tattoos Yantra is a geometric tattoo, usually a circle within a square. Yantra can be composed of triangles, circles, squares, pentagons, and so on. Each yantra is different and has a predominant deity, while, on the other hand, the mandala is receptive to any higher spiritual power without being associated with a specific deity and a yantra mandala is believed to resonate with the energy of the particular deity. Yantra mandalas vary in meaning and appearance and the most popular ones are Shri yantra mandalas, Lakshni yantra, Ganesh yantra, Kali yantra, Dhumavati yantra, etc. Although different in meaning, yantra mandalas have some common elements – the basic shapes – circle, triangle, square, and those who are interested in that type of mandala tattoos should find out the meaning of the basic symbols which will help in understanding the complexity of yantra mandala tattoos.
Animal mandalas feature elephants, lions, wolves, butterflies, peacocks and the meaning of the mandala will depend on the particular meaning of each animal. An animal mandala is typically a very personal one having a special meaning to each individual and its meaning will vary significantly in different cultures and traditions.
The image of the wolf bears a different meaning in different cultures. Wolf mandala tattoo combines the meaning of the wolf which symbolizes protection, loyalty, family and spiritual enlightenment. The wolf is also a symbol of independence and intelligence. Usually men choose a wolf as a symbol of courage and strength while for women it could mean independence, devotion and protection.
Elephant mandala tattoos usually symbolize the Indian god Ganesha. This character of mythology is one of the most kind and positive. In Indian culture, he is portrayed with an elephant’s head and is one of the most revered deities in the Hindu Pantheon. He is the god of happiness, prosperity and family. It is believed that it helps to remove all obstacles in life or puts them in the way of the one to be tested. It is also believed that Ganesha is also a god of knowledge, writing and wisdom. The elephant is a symbol of strength and royal power. Being the personification of devotion, wisdom and longevity, this animal always helped man. Among other things, the elephant symbolizes rain and fertility. In mythology it is believed that he accompanied Indra, the god of rain and thunderstorms. In mandala tattoos the elephant is most often used as a symbol of mental and physical strength, prosperity, good luck, etc. The image of a white elephant is of particular importance is. White color is a sign of high spirituality and knowledge. This animal is also considered the embodiment of universal love, compassion and kindness.
Lion mandala tattoos, according to Buddhist belief, symbolize loyalty, protection, wisdom and pride. Lion is also connected with royalty, dignity and courage, authority and justice. Buddha is depicted as sitting upon a lion as a throne of consistency, strength and wisdom.
Butterfly mandala tattoos are beautiful are a symbol of the transformation. In addition, the butterfly is a symbol of freedom, femininity, tenderness and grace, personal growth. A butterfly mandala is symbolic of rebirth and is often used as a mark of a new beginning.
Other popular mandala tattoos feature moon mandalas, sun is often used as an image in modern mandala tattoo designs because it represents the Universe, energy, life while heart mandalas are a symbol of love and devotion and another popular motif for modern tattoo designs. The infinity symbol, knots, flowers like roses, can also be seen as an element of mandala tattoo designs. A labyrinth mandala is associated with the life journey, the beginnings and endings of life stages.
How mandala tattoos work and where to place your tattoo?
How do mandalas affect people’s life? There is a saying that a mandala tattoo will work only if you really believe in it. In most cases, fans of this symbol are people close to Buddhist and Hindu culture. The mandala is one of the oldest symbols, believed to have magical power able to affect a person. A mandala tattoo has a strong energy, which can affect the owner of the tattoo and that is why it is very important to choose the right drawing. Here are several types of mandalas that differ in their effect – healing and protective mandalas, love mandalas, mandalas for success, good fortune mandalas, even designs that affect your wealth. Matching mandalas set up and balance the relationships between partners, bring peace and harmony to the family.
When choosing the style of your mandala tattoo one needs to take into consideration the technique, the dimensions, the colors and of course, the size of the tattoo. There are many styles, but for such a tattoo, only those that imply geometric accuracy are suitable. Symmetry plays an important role especially in mandala tattoos. That is the reason why they can be called geometric tattoos. The circle, rectangle, and triangle are symbols that have different meanings in different cultures.
Placement of mandala tattoos is also an individual choice determined by the size of the design and if you prefer an image with many details you should think of a body part where the details of the tattoo will be clearly visible, so it is best to choose a flat surface. It is important to maintain the symmetry and you need to make sure that the image is centered and well aligned.
It is believed that a tattoo with mandala on the hand guides the life of a person by conducting certain cosmic signals through his body. You can depict it on the palm or on the wrist. An interesting option of placement is the elbow, both external and internal side of it.
A mandala tattoo will look beautiful on the back. However, it is worthwhile to think about exactly where the center of the picture will be placed. Specialists recommend that you carefully study the layout of the main energy centers on the human body.
If you do not want to tie the picture to some point on the energy map of the body, you can use more universal options. Often the tattoo is placed on the forearm, on the foot, thigh, calf, ankles, or even on the knee.
Some people prefer to place their mandala tattoo on the ribs. Another great solution is a mandala tattoo on the neck. This part of the body is interesting as it is a kind of a transition point between the physical, mental and spiritual aspects of human existence.
Women often choose the collarbone for a small mandala tattoo while men often opt for sleeve tattoos which look spectacular and beautiful.