Butter Sculpture and Mandala

Butter Sculpture

Butter Sculpture
Butter Sculpture
Butter sculpture is another Tibetan Buddhist artistic visual impact. The sacred offering is made from mainly butter and other mineral pigments. Its size varies from several centimeters torma to several meters tableaux, covering a variety of subject including deities, butter mandalas, flowers, animals and Buddhist motifs. Traditionally, butter sculptures are displayed on monastery altars and family shrines as offerings. In the session of the Great Prayer Festival, there will be a butter sculpture display and competition before the Jokhang Temple.

Butter sculptures are modeled by hands. Since butter melts easily, monk artists making butter sculptures need to work in cold conditions, they have to dip their hands into cold water to make their fingers cold enough then can they start to model. Monks take great pride to do the religious work. A few tools, such as hollow bones for making long threads and moulds for making leaves and alike, are applied.

The butter sculptures in Ta'er Monastery enjoy the highest reputation in the Tibetan world. The monastery has a butter sculpture museum housing a collection of fine butter sculptures.


Mandala in Jokhang Temple
Mandala in Jokhang Temple
Mandala, called Dultson Kyilkhor in Tibetan, means container of essence. It is a tri-dimensional graphical and geometrical representation of the universe. It represents a combination of the enlightened mind and body of Buddha and is considered to have great power. These unique and exquisite works are usually made of colored sand. However, powdered flowers, herbs and even precious gems are also popularly used materials. Although Mandalas were originally created as religious objects used to aid in meditation and decorate and sanctify monasteries and homes , they have become appreciated as artwork for their elegance and beauty.

Mandalas are usually symmetric with series of concentric circles and squares. The center point is the residence of the resident deity, from whom the Mandala is identified. Lines are drawn from the centre until they intersect and form circles and squares. The finished Mandalas have four gates, which symbolize a culmination of the four virtues: compassion, kindness, sympathy and equanimity. Other Buddhist auspicious symbols can also be included in the design. Form and color application techniques are strictly followed in the process of creating a Mandala to show religious meanings.

- Last updated on Jul. 18, 2022 -
Ask a Question
Question Summary (100 characters)
Details (optional) (2,000 characters)