Understanding Buddhist Art is a series of Saturday seminars designed to help you understand and appreciate Buddhist art. The mandala is one of the most intriguing artistic expressions of Tibetan Buddhism, where it occurs in almost uncountable forms, formats, and functions. Taking the standard Tibetan depictions of the mandala as a point of departure, we will consider the history, meaning, and relationship of its component parts.
Christian Luczanits is a specialist in Buddhist art, with a research focus on India and Tibet.

Co-sponsored by Stanford's Buddhist Studies Center, each quarter's seminar will take us to a different part of the Buddhist world, and to different periods in its cultural history.
Nevertheless, despite its many forms, its multiple symbolic meanings, and its diverse use in Buddhist practice, the mandala of the Tibetan tradition is highly systematized and incorporates a number of conventions. Using the earliest depictions of mandalas from India to Dunhuang a number of principles crucial for understanding the Tibetan mandala can be discerned.
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, and has written extensively on the cultural contexts of Indian and Tibetan Buddhist art.

A comparison of these depictions and their descriptions in early tantric sources further reveals the gradual evolution of the mandala until it reaches its most highly systematized form in Tibet and Nepal.

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