We've showcased countless mandalas over time (an example) here at Tattoodo. However, regardless of how often such ornate symbols appear in the art form of tattoos, I think that in order to develop a better understanding of the cultural significance behind this genre, it is important to remember where they originally came from. So, here's a brief art history lesson alongside a handful of outstanding mandalas that live on peoples' skin today.
Mandalas have been with humanity for a very long time now, some of the older examples dating back as far as the 11th century. They are traditional to numerous cultures and religions, including, but not limited to, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, and Islam. For each of these religions, mandalas have their own respective systems of symbolism in their patterning as well as the inclusion of spiritual figures. Though they differ from culture to culture, it is notable that all mandalas exercise extreme symmetry, making them suggestive of balance within the self as well as in the universe. They also exist in several mediums, such as painting, sandpainting, and tattoos, of course. Interestingly, through their diaspora into tattooing, mandalas have been largely stripped of their religious iconography — focus being placed on the symmetry instead — and now manifest most frequently as purely intricate ornamentation for the body.
As can be seen in the photos above, mandalas are great bangers. Their circular and contained designs make them perfect for being smaller tattoos executed in relatively short amounts of time. The examples from Guy Waisman and Savannah Colleen also exemplify how many diverse styles and techniques from the world of tattooing can be incorporated into these beautiful geometric patterns.
Though they make for great small tattoos, mandalas are also ideal for larger pieces of body art. In the preceding images, one can get an idea of just how good they look when placed on larger swaths of skin. The wider the canvas, the more complexity an artist can pack into these elaborate yet balanced ornamental stand-ins for the cosmos.
Also, mandalas look great as halved images that reside on the left and right extremities of peoples bodies, such as their hands, forearms, lower legs, and feet. Furthermore, this split approach to these ornamental tattoos highlights their symmetry via cutting them down the middle.
If you ask me, the most remarkable placement for mandalas is, however, on the face. Outside of traditional tribal tattooing, I do not usually promote individuals to get facial tattoos because of the stigma attached to them. However, the two mandalas featured above are quite exquisite in how they round their collectors' ears. If I was brave enough, I might even get one of these.
I hope you like learning about where these beautiful blossoms of ornamentation originate from. All of the tattooists featured in this article are world-class, so if you want to track down more of their tattoos, make sure to check out their Instagrams, which are listed in the captions. Also, if you want your very own symbol for the universe, consider tracking down one of these masters of the mandala.