Mapping from a Different Direction: Mandala as Sacred Spatial Visualization

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Susan M. Walcott, Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
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Abstract: Spatial visualization serves as a key cartographic device for relaying representative information about that part of space portrayed, creating an ordered presentation of patterns that instruct the observer. This research explores the function of a mandala as a cognitive graphic of sacred space. The purpose of the comparison is to expand notions underlying assumptions of cartographic portrayal, space, and contestation affecting both cartography and religious geography. Opposing schools of thought in cartography dispute the role of maps as based on observable phenomena or maps as mental terrain. Exploration of the mandala as an instrument in Tibetan Buddhist ceremonies, as representative of sacred maps, illustrates its function in an expanded category of emancipatory and culturally contested space, broadening the power of cartographic depiction and contextualizing its creation. Visualization is foremost an act of cognition, a human ability to develop mental representations that allow geographers to identify patterns and to create or impose order... Concrete visual representations …make spatial contexts … visible so as to engage the most powerful human information-processing abilities, those associated with vision. —MacEachren et al., 1992 Every map is a cultural construction that geographers, scientists, and artists alike create to make and convey meaning. —Bender et al., 2004

Additional Information

Journal of Cultural Geography 23(2):71-88
Language: English
Date: 2006
Spatial visualization, Mandala, Sacred space, Cartography, Religious geography

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