A mandala is a geometric design with special spiritual connotations in various Buddhist and Hindu traditions. The creation of sand paintings in the form of mandalas is a high art among Tibetan Buddhists. In the above time-lapse video, you can watch monks compose one over six days at Emory University:
Sand mandalas have been in practice for thousands of years, according to Tsepak Rigzin, assistant program director for Drepung Loseling and an adjunct Tibetan language instructor at Emory. Monks use a grated metal rod and a traditional metal funnel called a chak-pur to carefully place millions of grains of colored sand on a table.[…]
There are hundreds of colorful mandala designs to choose from, Rigzin said, but they all share a basic format of geometric shapes and spiritual symbols.
“Normally the monks who do this, they have to go through a lot of training programs and they have to be authenticated by their masters,” Rigzin said. “They have to memorize the oral texts and learn the ritual.”
Following their traditions, the monks wiped away the sand painting within an hour of its completion.