Mandala Flower Meanings, Myths, and Cultural Significance

The Flower of Life mandala symbolizes the cycle of life and creation, coming from one source represented by the single, central circle. Mandalas featuring other flowers also have their own unique meanings. Depending on the type of flower, they can symbolize balance, enlightenment, choices, timing, and more. Join me as I run through the fascinating history and origins of mandala flowers, and their symbolic meanings.

Mandala Flower Meaning and Symbolism

About Mandala Flowers

A colorful Mandala Flower drawing

What Is a Mandala?

Mandala is the Sanskrit word for circle. Usually circular in form, a mandala is a geometric arrangement of different shapes, patterns, and designs around a central point.

Mandalas have spiritual significance in several cultures worldwide and are even used in secular practices as a tool to aid in self-discovery.

What Is a Flower Mandala?

A flower mandala is a mandala that incorporates a floral motif into its design. Flower mandalas can be arranged around one central flower, several flowers can be used in the design, and even more than one type of flower can be incorporated.

History and Origins

Mandalas and mandala designs incorporating flowers, like the flower of life, are thought to have originated in the 4th century in places including India, Nepal, Tibet, Japan, China, Bhutan, and Indonesia as a part of Buddhist and Hindu practices.

However, some also believe that these designs might have originated in Northern Africa or Mesopotamia. With the design being central to several cultures, it’s possible mandalas sprung up in cultures almost simultaneously worldwide.

What Is the Role of Sacred Geometry?

Sacred geometry assigns special meanings to certain shapes and proportions, making them both sacred and symbolic.

In flower mandalas, circle geometry, radii, and reflective and rotational symmetry create sacred symbolism in the art. This geometry can represent a variety of sacred meanings, but most commonly, it is used to represent the universe, creation, life, and our place in it.

What Is the Role of the ‘Flower of Life’ in Mandalas?

A pink and green mandala

In mandalas, the flower of life is a unique flower mandala that doesn’t represent any real flower that blooms in nature. Instead, it’s a stylized flower with repeated circles that move outward from the center.

As its circles radiate outward from a single central circle, the flower of life mandala represents the single origin of the universe, life, and all of creation.

How Are Flower Mandalas Traditionally Made?

The process of making a flower mandala depends on the media you use. For example, the process of making a Buddhist sand mandala differs greatly from simply drawing a mandala for your own meditation practice.

To draw a mandala, it’s best to start with basic supplies: a pencil or chalk, a ruler, a compass, and a protractor. You can eyeball your design if you don’t have a compass and protractor, but the symmetry won’t be quite as sharp.

Start by making a dot in the center of your paper and four dots around it, like the cardinal points of a compass. You’ll then mark out more dots to help you draw a series of circles around the center. Connect the dots with lines to create a sort of snowflake-like design. Then, connect each point with a horizontal line to draw circles around the center.

You can then begin filling each slice of your pie-shaped mandala with flowers, petals, or other shapes. Just keep everything symmetrical to create spiritual balance and draw the eye to the center.

Where Do You Commonly See Flower Mandalas?

A red and orange mandala flower drawing

The most traditional places to see flower mandalas are inside Buddhist temples and in Buddhist and Hindu artwork.

Today, however, flower mandalas have become more popular worldwide and in various meditation practices. As a result, they can be found just about everywhere. You’ll likely find mandalas represented in new-age artwork and decorative textiles. Flower mandalas can be found in coloring books designed for meditation and relaxation.

How Are Mandala Flowers Used?

In meditation, a practitioner focuses on a mandala flower. With its circular, symmetrical shape, the mandala directs the practitioner’s attention and focus to the center. This also helps to center the individual’s energy and calm the mind.

Religious and Spiritual Symbolism of Mandala Flowers

Brightly colored mandala drawing

Hinduism

In Hinduism, mandalas are known as yantra. These are mystical diagrams typically feature a square with a circular mandala in the center. They are used in Hindu tantric practice and for the worship of deities.

Buddhism

Mandalas permeate Buddhist traditions. In different branches of Buddhism, mandalas have slightly different symbolic meanings and uses. However, mandalas are generally used as an aid in practicing meditation, and they are also sometimes given as offerings.

Christianity

Although mandalas are traditionally an eastern art form, they can be observed in western cultures as well. Mandalas have appeared in Christian artwork throughout the ages. Some examples include the mosaic-like pavements at Westminster Abbey, the Illuminations of Saint Hildegard, and the Sigillum Dei (Seal of God).

Mandala Flowers in Ancient History

An ancient looking mandala flower drawing

Ancient India

Thanks to Google Earth, five enormous mandalas in the Manipur Valley of India were discovered. The largest of these ancient structures covers about 225,000 square meters.

Ancient Egypt

The flower of life mandala appears in artwork at Abydos, a cult center for worshipping Osiris, the god of the underworld.

Ancient Mesoamerican Civilizations

The people of the Maya civilization used mandala-like circles to represent the calendar. The people of the ancient Aztec civilization similarly presented calendars using a mandala called the Sun Stone. The Sun Stone is also believed to be a representation of the universe.

Additionally, the Sun Stone is thought to have religious, geographical, and political significance, placing Tonatiuh (the Aztec Sun god) and Tenochtitlan at the center of the four cardinal directions.

Art, Literature, and Architecture

Mandalas are an art form in their own right. They appear in several forms, including drawings, paintings, carvings, tapestries, mosaics, and sculptures.

Mandalas can even be made from dyed sand poured into intricate patterns that can eventually be blown away by the gentlest of breezes. These mandalas represent not only life, the universe, and our connection to them but also the transient nature of everything.

While mandalas are referenced in stories and religious texts, they’re also used to study and understand literature. Mandalas can be their own form of literary criticism when the physical form is used to analyze or critique a literary text, placing characters at the center and outward radiating themes, actions, and plot points around.

Additionally, some great works of literature have even been studied as literary mandalas themselves.

Mandalas are most commonly seen in the architecture of Buddhist temples. The floor plans often include central stupas surrounded by concentric, outward-moving circles.

Mandala Flowers in Science

A deep blue and gold mandala flower

In evolutionary studies, biologists use phylogenetic mandalas to represent evolutionary families visually. These mandalas sometimes take a traditional circular form, and other times they resemble trees.

Psychologist Carl Jung is credited for introducing the mandala into Western thought through his research on the unconscious through art. He believed that mandalas and the urge to create them were associated with an unconscious urge to balance the self while navigating life changes and personal growth.

Mandala Flowers in Politics

Sometime between the 4th and 2nd centuries B.C.E., the Indian author Chanakya devised the Rajmandala, a mandala designed to represent the circles of enemy states and friendly states surrounding the king.

This concept has since been applied, as shown by the tendency to refer to certain Southeast Asian states as mandalas, instead. Due to the nature of the state or mandala being more defined by its center and that which surrounds the center than any well-defined outer borders.

Mandala Tattoos

A person with mandala tattoos on their hands

Due to the highly personal nature of tattoos and the individual’s decision and reasoning to get one, the symbolic significance of mandala tattoos varies from person to person.

Generally, however, the significance of mandala tattoos comes from the symbolic meanings of a symmetrical circle: balance, harmony, peace, wholeness, and eternity.

Color Symbolism

A brightly colored mandala flower

While each type of flower has its own symbolic meanings, the colors in which flower mandalas are represented are also significant.

  • Black represents individuality, deep thinking, and the mysteries of the universe.
  • White represents spiritual focus, purity, innocence, and sympathy.
  • Blue symbolizes inner peace, harmony, emotional healing, and meditation.
  • Purple in mandalas is the color of spirituality and spirit.
  • Pink symbolizes intuition, femininity, and love.
  • Red represents passion, energy, and strength.
  • Orange symbolizes creativity, intuition, self-awareness, and self-transformation.
  • Green is the color of nature, healing, health, caring, and psychic abilities.
  • Yellow symbolizes joy, friendship, laughter, happiness, learning, and wisdom.
A mandala flower drawn in black and white

1. Lotus Flowers

Lotus flowers symbolize rebirth, enlightenment, purity, and self-regeneration. The lotus flower mandala encapsulates these same themes and is thought to encourage growth, enlightenment, and self-renewal.

2. Red Begonias

Red begonias symbolize passion, romance, and love. Red begonia mandalas symbolize harmony and should help you improve the balance in your life.

3. White Lily Flowers

White lilies represent commitment, rebirth, and purity. The white lily mandala symbolizes choice. Meditating with a white lily mandala should make you more aware of your choices and clarify your decisions.

4. White Roses

White Rose Mandala flower

On their own, white roses symbolize purity, sympathy, and spirituality. In mandalas, white roses represent spiritual awakening. When used for meditation, a white rose mandala should help you reach a higher level of consciousness.

5. Pink Dahlias

Pink dahlias symbolize kindness, service, beauty, love, and femininity. In mandalas, they symbolize self-love and can help enhance this quality through meditation.

6. Orange Marigolds

Orange Marigold Mandala flower

Orange marigolds have a history of representing both passion and positive energy in addition to grief and mourning. Orange marigold mandalas represent timing. Meditating on one should help you improve yours and identify the right moments to act and not to act.

7. Dandelions

Dandelions symbolize love, happiness, and hope. Dandelion head mandalas represent courage and bravery – just like lions. They can be useful in meditation when you feel hesitant, scared, or worried.

8. Daffodils

White and yellow Daffodil Mandalas against a blue background

Daffodils symbolize new beginnings and rebirth. Similarly, white or yellow daffodil mandalas symbolize hope, strength, and optimism.

The Final Word

Whether you use mandalas for meditation to create balance in your life or simply appreciate them as a wondrous form of art, there’s no denying that mandalas offer everyone beauty both inside and out.

Editorial Director | andrew@petalrepublic.com | Full Bio

Andrew is the Editorial Director at Petal Republic. He holds a BSc degree in Plant Sciences and has trained professionally at leading floristry schools in London and Paris. In amongst overseeing a global editorial team, Andrew's a passionate content creator around all things flowers, floral design, gardening, and houseplants.

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