Experience of Making a Colored Khalong Mandala 

Rinchenling, Moscow, 2021

Yulian Klenov

We thank the magical Prima Mai for the continuous development of the Teachings of our incomparable Master Chögyal Namkai Norbu, for accurate guidance and endless patience in resolving our doubts!


The idea to print a colored Khalong mandala on a construction membrane Tyvek base came to our mind after several unsuccessful color tests with solvent ink with a resolution of 360 dots per inch on a regular canvas base.  

Prima Mai answered my and Tatiana Zolotareva’s questions in detail based on the image of the Khalong mandala sent in August, shared ideas on choosing the material for the canvas base and sent notes on the creation process and photos of the Earth mandalas printed on Tyvek synthetic paper in Switzerland in 2020. The recommended size of the base was 12×14 m.

For the large hall of the Classical Ballet Theater on Skakovaya in Moscow, where practices of the Vajra Dance of Space of the Song of the Vajra (Khalongdorjeikar) usually take place, the Khalong on the canvas base is not suitable: you can’t roll it up because there is nowhere to store a 12-meter long roll; if you fold it, it weighs about 90 kg, so you can’t roll it together, and Tyvek paper material of the required width is simply not imported into Russia. 

A search among printing houses showed that the absolute majority of typographers are completely unenthusiastic about doing what no one else has done in the world: print the Khalong on a thin, slippery, non-printable construction membrane base. And if someone suddenly agreed to try it, they quoted an exorbitant price or simply disappeared. 

But we were lucky. There was a printing house where they calmly accepted the unusual words ‘Tyvek Housewrap’ and ‘texture lamination of a 1.5 x 14 m membrane base’.

In total, only in this printing house, we made about 20 color and lamination samples on different materials, chose the appropriate type of ink and printer, checked color rendering, selected the print head settings, and in general, chose optimal technology for printing the Khalong mandala.  

At the same time, we carried out samples of printing and lamination of the Khalong mandala canvas for Dzamling Gar, according to their wishes. These samples were then transported to Tenerife thanks to Yulia Petrova.

We constantly discussed and tested materials, the quality of the canvas, the stability of the paint coating, lamination and sliding on the canvas with the dancers. As a result, for our hall we chose a Tyvek membrane base without lamination.

On September 14, Prima Mai sent the last correction of the image of the Khalong mandala for printing. It was possible to start preparing the layout according to the requirements of the printing house.

By the end of October, all preparatory work had been completed: we printed all the rolls, made a fibre hardboard substrate in order to cut through 2 strips at once and not spoil the floor, purchased 100 meters of special Tyvek acrylic connecting tape, a lot of paint tape and blades.

Combining and gluing

A detailed discussion with Oksana Kulibabina about the plan for gluing the mandala determined further roles: Oksana became the ideal manager of the work on combining and gluing parts of the mandala into a single whole. It takes exceptional precision, accuracy, a good eye and simply perseverance to combine, cut and glue eight 14-meter strips into a single mandala. Oksana, you did just fine! 

We decided to glue the strips in pairs in the gönpa at Rinchenling. The length of the gönpa was almost not enough, but in width (with four rows of removed mats) it was possible to connect two one-and-a-half meter strips on a hard floor.

The beginning of the work on gluing the mandala fell during lockdown and Covid «vacations»: everyone was self-isolating and there were not enough people. Therefore, I had to invite young people – my grandchildren Yan and Lev, who were lucky enough to do the rarest thing on this planet during their school holidays – making the Khalong mandala. They had received Rinpoche’s blessing and Dzogchen transmission before, and there were no obstacles.

By the way, at the same time the new dispenser with blue disinfectant gel in the gönpa was relocated to where it certainly won’t be demolished (I threw it down myself, bringing a sheet of hardboard for the base into the gönpa).

In the following days, Sveta Gaiduk, Yura Komissarov and other people joined in.

In total, we printed eight 14-meter strips with a width of 1.5 m. The main difficulty was that the strips were very long, and they needed to be joined with an accuracy of up to a millimeter along the entire length of the canvas, otherwise it would not be possible to observe the main proportion of 18:16 = 1.125, which is the basis of the Khalong mandala. The length of the image should be 12.24 m and the width 10.88 m. There could be several millimeters at each docking, and the lines along which the strips could be joined are located unevenly along the strips, and no marks can be left on the mandala.

Obstacles arose daily: starting from an unexpected pool of water under the removed floor mats, continuing with a slight defect in the color coating made by typographers and ending with malicious traffic police traps on the way to the gönpa. But no one said that everything would be easy and simple.

On the first day, Thursday, November 4, we glued only 1 strip. We selected the technology and worked out the steps of the procedure. And in the evening there was a ganapuja and it was necessary to finish early in order to put the mats back. The next day, Friday, November 5, was all ours – 2 strips were glued together. On the third day, Saturday, the fourth strip was ready.

On Sunday, November 7, we prepared materials for transportation, but only on Monday, November 8, was it possible to transport all the materials to the hall on Skakovaya. 

There, too, an unexpected thing happened: local dancers decided to use an inter-hall soundproof mat made of fiberglass and glass wool as a cover for their equipment. They removed it from its fastenings, pulled off its protective cover and dragged it across the hall, sprinkling the floor with the thinnest glass hairs. And one of our Vajra Dance mandalas was moved to another corner of the hall, while for some reason it was unfolded by a third and folded back incorrectly. 

Nevertheless, on this very day, along with the materials for the new mandala, a double bag for storing and carrying the Earth mandalas arrived in a very timely way. We put in it both Earth mandalas, new and old, and closed it with a zipper.

Only a week later, on November 15, it was possible to continue working on the Khalong mandala in the hall on Skakovaya. Of course, with the next adventures: our landlords assured us that from 15:00 the big hall would definitely be free but the hall was occupied, as it turned out later, until 17:00. Therefore, everything had to be unfolded in the small hall (which was also claimed by the cheerleaders who came to their training at the wrong time), and then transferred back to the big hall. By that time I was already sitting at home in self-isolation and could only cough hoarsely into the phone at theatrical employees, trying to resolve the situation. 

Yulia Ustinova

A lot of people gathered for the final gluing of the mandala strips, even those who rarely or do not dance at all came, and this was very valuable. 

Due to overlaps in the hall’s schedule, work began in the afternoon at 16:00. Since the technology of gluing strips together had already been worked out, and Oksana skilfully led a new team of gluers, it took us 4 hours.

Everyone had a small role: someone pulled, someone pushed, someone glued. The work was in a full swing! In addition, Tanya Bolbakova finished making zippers on the new bags for storing the mandalas.

Of course, it is a responsibility and very exciting when you glue the mandala together completely, from two huge halves. But we did it.

People arrived after work, and at the end of the day we managed to dance on a new colored mandala. The impressions were wonderful, the sliding was excellent and the delicate colors very pleasant.

We didn’t want to go away, and everyone who took part in the gluing stayed until the end of the practice. We were inspired by the cooperation and were glad to have an occasion for communication.

When working out the technology of printing and assembling the mandala, a large number of specific features were revealed that will be described in detail in the third edition of the working materials for making the Khalong mandala. 

In the first editions, drawings, coordinate tables and detailed instructions were given on how to manually build and draw an exact copy of the blue Khalong mandala from Dzamling Gar on Tyvek Housewrap canvas. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact Yulian Klenov klens7@gmail.com.

We express our gratitude to all who participated in the making of the new colored Khalong mandala: Oksana Kulibabina, Sveta Gaiduk, Yan and Lev Panin, Yulia Ustinova, Svetlana Zoricheva, Denis Maksyakov, Tatiana Melikhova, Max Maksimov, Vadim Gudkov, Ekaterina Citrus, Yura Komissarov, Tatiana Bolbakova, Andrey Yemelyanov, Tatiana Pronicheva, Ulyana Sokolova, Tatiana Zolotareva, Yulian Klenov, Katya Serebryanaya, Yulia Petrova and everyone who supported this idea and helped to implement this work. Your participation has been PRICELESS! May it serve for the benefit of all sentient beings!

Yulian Klenov, Rinchenling, Moscow
Yulia Ustinova, Wodsalling, Yakroma
Photos: Svetlana Gaiduk, Yulia Ustinova, Tatiana Bolbakova, Tatiana Zolotareva.

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