Learn about ancient Mandala art from Mandala artist Zareen Taaj Hidhayat
Zareen Taaj Hidhayat is a Chennai based Mandala artist and author of ‘The Mandala Guidebook’. An architect, she discovered this art form when trying to cope with a loss. She had begun to scribble and doodle a great deal and realized that she was generally making circles. She posted some of her drawings on Instagram and these became instantly popular. What she had turned to initially as a coping mechanism for grief has now become her passion. Zareen uses acrylic paints on canvas for drawing her mandalas. She uses all colours and also gold and silver paint to create a brighter effect. Through artists like her, Mandala as an art form is gaining recognition and popularity.
She shares some interesting aspects regarding Mandalas.
- Mandala means Circle: Mandala is the Sanskrit word for circle. Psychologists have found that when a person or a child scribbles, whether s/he is depressed or elated, the form that is usually drawn is a circle.
- A Symbol Common to All Religions: Zareen says that though it originates from Sanskrit, a mandala is a common symbol to be found in all religions. We can see it in Islamic architecture, in Christian churches and it is also found in Buddhism.
- Precise and Exact Art Form: It is a precise and exact form, deriving from geometry. Zareen works with arabesque and Islamic patterns that require symmetry and have a base in geometry.
- It has Universal and Historical Significance: It has a spiritual character and has a historical significance to it compared to other art forms.
- Helps in healing: Zareen says, “Psychologists have come to me to learn this art. They come to learn in order to prescribe it to their patients and give it to them as treatment.” In her case too, it helped. “It helped me to improve my mental health. I have to be peaceful inside without thinking about the past or going into the future.”
- It is meditative: The creation of mandalas and their study is meditative. “It requires concentration and focus because it starts from a central point. I start from a point and begin developing on it with circles, grids, and patterns. The more complex it becomes, the more time you spend on it.”
- It is a Complex Creation: According to her the making of a mandala appears to be a simple thing but it is not so. “What you think in your mind is what appears on the paper. So in the case of a complex mind like mine, the work is also complex.”
- It Helps in Becoming a Better Person: “It has moulded me into becoming a better person over the last two years. I am more calm, patient and understanding”, Zareen emphasized.
- Never too late to learn: Learning the art of drawing mandalas can be done at any age. As Zareen says, “It is never too late to learn something new. You can change your passion anytime.” Or you can find a new passion and work on it to find fulfillment, as Zareen has done.
Mandalas are an integral part of Indian culture. Yet, this ancient art form is more popular with foreigners who have been the initial appreciators of her work. Now it is gaining popularity among Indians as well. Zareen holds workshops on a one-on-one basis for those who wish to learn this beautiful and meditative art form.