Mandala tattoos are highly intricate works of art, and tend to be seen as spiritual in nature. They largely resemble complex floral designs, but are usually symmetrical and contained within a circular shape.
Popular among both men and women, mandala tattoos can be fully unique – especially if you can find an artist specializing in designing mandalas.
Meaning of mandala tattoos
‘Mandala’ is a Sanskrit word meaning ‘circle’. Just like a circle, the mandala represents wholeness, first and foremost. Other associations with the circle include eternity, balance, and perfection – the last one particularly because the distance from the circle’s center to any point in its outline is the same.
Mandalas are present in a number of religions, such as:
- Hinduism – Hinduism associates the mandala with focus. For this reason, it usually appears in a prominent place inside a room used for prayer or meditation.
- Christianity – Christianity uses a simplified form of the mandala in rose windows of churches. These tend to represent important events from the religion.
- Buddhism – Buddhists use the mandala in meditation and religious rituals, and consider it to be a symbol of balance in the body and mind. The mandala also symbolizes the relationship of human life to infinity, and has a place in the ancient Buddhist meditation practice known as Anuttarayoga Tantra.
Mandala tattoo placement
Circular mandala tattoos are best suited to be done on the back or the chest. The reason behind this view is that these areas offer a flat surface – preventing the circular shape from becoming distorted. Tattooing a mandala on a curved area such as the shoulder or forearm could result in a ‘stretched’ look and could cause the circle to lose its shape.
Other larger areas to consider for a medium to large mandala tattoo are the stomach, ribs, chest, or thigh.
Because mandalas make for very intricate designs, it can be difficult to scale them down to a smaller tattoo suitable for other areas. Consult your chosen tattoo artist on the sizing and placement to make sure that your design will fit well in the area where you want to have it tattooed.
Popular design options
Not only is there a huge variety of existing mandala designs to consider, you could also find an artist who would design a custom mandala for you – making your tattoo completely unique. In the meantime, consider the following options:
- Floral designs – mandalas are similar to flowers due to their circular shape. Both are built by keeping a circle in the center and extending the design outwards. A floral mandala tattoo can also bring together the symbolic meaning of both mandalas and flowers, resulting in notions of balance, eternity, and femininity. Since mandalas can also signify the creation of a new idea, an association can be made with the blossoming of a flower.
- Tribal designs – many tribal tattoo designs include some similarities to the mandala. This is because the Native American and other tribal cultures considered the circle to be an important symbolic element of rituals and ceremonies. Circles were also used by these cultures in designing jewelry pieces and weaving patterned fabric. Hence, mandalas can be neatly featured in tribal tattoo designs. For more inspiration on this style, check out Maori tattoo designs.
It’s common to see both color and all-black mandalas, and both options can look awesome if they are well designed. As mandala tattoos are very detailed and ‘busy’, you may want to consider using color sparingly in order to prevent the tattoo from becoming confusing or losing its definition.
Mandala tattoos can carry deep spiritual connotations and can look absolutely stunning when done well. It’s important to choose the right tattoo artist for this type of design, due to the level of detail involved. Ideally, try to opt for an artist who specializes in mandalas or at least has some experience in this kind of work.