Your hands tell a story


You can tell a lot about a person from their hands.  When I meet someone, it’s one of the first things I notice.  Their hands tell the story of life, of adventure, work, care and creativity.  Hands have the power to create and destroy, to harm and to heal, which makes them fascinating to study.  Each one has its own unique pattern, grain and features.  Here are some stunning examples of hands.  We use them so much for many mundane activities we often take their beauty and complexity for granted.  Take a moment to see what these hands say to you.
hands in marriage

hands in marriage (www.familysolutionscounsellingga.com)

Artist: Nycki Owen

Artist: Nycki Owen (www.nyckiowen.com/hands.html)

X-ray of healthy hand

X-ray of healthy hand (www.davidlnelson.md/xrays_normal_hand_PA.htm)

Hand of Buddha

Hand of Buddha (www.allposters.com/-sp/The-Hand-of-Buddah-Posters)

Michelangelo: Hands of G-d and Adam

Michelangelo: Hands of G-d and Adam(www.fineartprintsondemand.com)

Henna Hands

Henna Hands (nationalgeographic.com/science/enlarge/henna-painted-hands.html)

Ancient cave paintings - Santa Cruz, Argentina

Ancient cave paintings - Santa Cruz, Argentina (wikipedia)

Helping hand

Helping hand (www.sheknows.com/articles/806007.htm)

In prayer

In prayer (www.etsy.com) click picture to link direct

There is a giant sculpted hand on the Pan-Pacific Highway in Chile.  It is in the Atacama Desert, one of the driest places on earth.  In the desert and the dust, this hand marks the landscape.

Photo: Elizabeth Southey

Photo: Elizabeth Southey (www.travelblog.org/Photos/308221.html)

The artist behind the hand is Chilean sculptor Mario Irarrazabal and was constructed 1100 metres above sea level.   It stands 11 metres high and was inaugurated on March 28, 1992.

Atacama Desert Hand - Chile

Atacama Desert Hand - Chile (www.artificialowl.net/2009/03/giant-hand-of-atacama-desert)

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Sand Mandala – Tibetan Art


In 2001, two Buddhist monks constructed a sand mandala in the Ackland Art Museum in North Carolina USA.  It measured over five feet in diameter and is an exquisite piece of Tibetan Art.  Construction is a delicate and painstaking process.

Drawing the Mandala map

DRAWING THE MANDALA MAP. Click photo to visit Ackland Art Museum (www.ackland.org.art/exhibitions/buddhistart)

Throughout construction the monks pour millions of grains of fine sand, (usually coloured stones that have been ground) from traditional metal funnels called chakpur.

Ackland Art Gallery: Mandala in progress

MANDALA IN PROGRESS - click photo to visit Ackland Art Museum

The intricate patterns and symbols within the piece are astounding.   I love the vibrant colours, symmetry and symbolism of the work and can appreciate looking at the smallest corner or the piece as a whole.

Ackland Art Gallery:  Mandala close up

CLOSE UP - click photo to visit Ackland Art Museum

Ackland Art Gallery: Mandala closeup

CLOSER STILL. click photo to visit Ackland Art Museum

Ackland Art Gallery: the mandala grows

MANDALA GROWING. click photo to visit Ackland Art Museum

Once complete, the monks perform a closing ceremony that is very sacred and symbolic.  The final product is an absolute wonder.  Imagine a solid week of work creating this masterpiece.  Imagine how your neck and shoulders might ache from being hunched over the board for all that time, gently and carefully placing grains of sand in just the right places.
Ackland Art Gallery:  mission accomplished

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. Click photo to visit Ackland Art Museum

The closing ceremony is a dismantling.  The monks who took hours to create the mandala also sweep up the mandala, capturing again the coloured sand.  (I want to cry – Noooooo!!!!)
Ackland Art Gallery: dismantling the mandala

BUT FOR A MOMENT. Click photo to visit Ackland Art Museum

In Tibetan culture this symbolises the transient nature of life and the impermanence of everything that exists.   I suppose it means you really have to treasure something right in the moment, and remember it.
Ackland Art Gallery: sweeping the sand

THE RITUAL. Click photo to visit Ackland Art Museum

The sand or coloured stone is never used twice.  In some ceremonies it is given to the audience as a blessing, and reminder.  Sometimes the sand is swept up, wrapped in silk and taken to a body of running water where it is released back into nature.  Ashes to ashes and dust to dust, I guess.  There is something lovely about that idea – it started as rock, came from the earth, was pummelled into sand, was handled carefully and deliberately, became beautiful, was celebrated then carefully returned to its source.
In Tibetan ritual arts, the collaboration and execution of the sand mandala is considered much more important than the final product.  It sounds like another way of saying the journey is more important than the destination.  One day, it might just sink in…

Fractals in Nature


Fractals are only a recent discovery although they’ve been with us for such a long time.  Benoit Mandelbrot discovered fractals in 1975 and described them as shapes that are “self similar”.  The shape of a fractal is similar regardless of the magnification.  To create a fractal, you start with a simple shape and duplicate it, again and again and again.   Think of a fern – each frond is a miniature replica of the whole.  It’s not identical, but it’s similar in nature.  Here is six of the best fractals you’ll find in nature.

1.  Lightning

Lightning fractal

Lightning fractal ©Photographer: Goran Stojanovic | Agency: Dreamstime.com

In nature, we see fractals all around us.  Most of the fractals in nature are not infinite.  They display self-similar structure over a smaller and finite scale (otherwise we’d have supersized, never ending cauliflowers !!).  Natural fractals include clouds, snowflakes, blood vessels, river networks and coastlines.

2.  Nautilus Shell

Aren’t these amazing?  The nautilus shell is a fantastic example of sacred geometry.

3.  Leaves and veins

The exciting thing about fractals is that you never get to the end.  Zoom in and you’ll see a similar pattern.  Zoom again and you’ll just get more detail, and more, and more.

4. Romanesco (cabbage cousin)

Romanesco fractal

Romanesco fractal (wikipedia) and Flickr: docman

The photographer (Docman) who shot this photo didn’t actually cook and eat it.  He did a whole series of photos about the Romanesco, including its decay.

5.  Peacock feathers

Feathers are great examples of fractals.  (PS – no it’s not an albino peacock).  For more white peacock pictures and info, check out my post “The Peacock” here.

6.  Mountain Ranges

Mountain Range Fractal

Mountain Range Fractal (www.ces.clemson.edu/semaps/tn/gsmt-a.jpg)

Mountain ranges and river systems create fabulous fractals as they branch off to other systems.

If you’d like to check out some more info, images or fractal generating programs have a look at Spanky Fractal Database.  Enjoy!