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Mandalas are spiritual and ritual symbols in Hinduism and Buddhism that represent the universe. It’s an ancient Sanskrit word that means “circle”, and mandalas are indeed primarily recognizable by their concentric circles and other geometric figures. In the most basic form, a mandala is a square containing a circle with several concentric circles or smaller squares within. The mandala is decorated with traditional iconography that includes geometric shapes and a multitude of ancient spiritual symbols.

In Tibetan Buddhism, mandalas are created with colored sand, a practice known as dul-tson-kyil-khor, which literally means "mandala of colored powders." Historically, the mandala was not created with natural, dyed sand, but granules of crushed colored stone. Sometimes this included precious and semi-precious gems. So, lapis lazuli would be used for the blues, rubies for the reds, and so forth. In modern times, plain white stones are ground down and dyed with opaque inks to achieve the same effect.

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