The 9th International Conference Buddhism & Australia
Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia Illustrations
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Butter Sculpture and Mandala
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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.