Tibetan Thangka Art: Mandala of the Five Wisdom Dakinis

Ten Session Video Course with Tiffani Gyatso

Video content will remain available for students for one year 

The Mandala of the Five Wisdom Dakinis

There is a yearning inside all of us to feel complete and coherent, to embrace in harmony all the aspects of who we are in this always-in-motion life. 

A mandala, which means circle in Sanskrit is found across many cultures. Though they can be portrayed in different ways, what they all have in common is the representation of the wholeness in one glimpse. Nature is always teaching us about the mandala - when we cut a fruit and see how the seeds of an apple are displayed, the perfection of a honey comb, the roots of the trees which resemble  our own capillary blood veins. We are all already part of a mandala, as magnificent as a flower which carries all the codes of the galaxy in such a “simple” and impermanent expression. 

The Five Wisdom Dakinis are related to the five elements in nature on many levels: from our physicality, our mental and emotional patterns, they allow us to contemplate our potential to refine different aspects of the enlightened mind within. 

Each dakini corresponds to one of the five Buddha families, in their female and dynamic aspect. Each family invites us to contemplate a specific wisdom such as the wisdom of compassion or generosity through the doorway of certain aspects of our suffering such as attachment, greed or anger, and teaching us how to transform our painful emotions into awakened states of mind and activity. 

About the Course

In this ten week online course we are going to use drawing of geometry and proportions as a tool of presence and concentration. We will color the whole mandala in a meditative intention contemplating each time a different wisdom and poison associated with each family, which are:

  • Buddha Family, associated with space element. Wisdom of consciousness and poison of ignorance
  • Vajra Family, associated with water element. Mirror like wisdom and poison of anger
  • Ratna Family, associated with earth element. Wisdom of generosity and poison of greed
  • Padma Family, associated with fire element. Wisdom of Compassion and poison of attachment
  • Karma Family, associated with air element. All-Accomplishing wisdom and poison of jealousy 

This course is open to all, however it is useful if you have some experience in drawing and coloring. We will start from the very beginning of the rules of geometry contemplating a typical and simple buddhist mandala, the temple of the deities sitting inside a perfect square with the gates of the four direction. Inside the mandala-temple the dakinis will be created using a given template and coloured in life time in class. There is no initiation in this practice, it is an artistic approach to recognise our own mind, emotions and spirit as part of the whole. Meditation and conversation will also be part of this artistic dynamic. 

In the end you will be able to use the mandala as a base for your altar and offerings or to look and contemplate. 

Art Materials Required for this Course 
(Please purchase and have ready before the start of the first session):

  • Print outs of images to be shared before class
  • Minimum 28x38cm thick paper (at least 300gr) or cardboard with white surface. 
  • Pencil 4B and HB or mechanical pencil 0.5 HB and 4B (two kinds of graphite) 
  • Compass which a pencil or pen can be attached to it
  • Ruler and eraser with a tip (for small lines)
  • A good sharpener for your pencils 
  • 1 A4 tracing paper
  • Transparent ruler
  • Pinball or Micron pen 0,05 and 0,1 brown or black
  • Golden gel pen (thin tip) and a white gel pen
  • Thicker metalic pen (golden or silver) any brand (for outlining the outer mandala)
  • Set of Watercoloor pencils or watercolor paints (whichever you feel more comfortable using for coloring)
  • Notebook and a pen for notetaking

Course Program

Class One: Drawing the ground of the mandala.

Class Two: Transfering and coloring the Buddha dakini (White). Painting a rainbow on the bigger circle.

Class Three: Dorje Family (Blue) - Explanation and painting of the exterior blue

Class Four: Dorje Family - Personal Visualization and coloring the dakini and rainbow

Class Five: Padma Family (Red) - Explanation and painting of exterior blue

Class Six: Padma Family - Personal visualization and coloring of the dakini and rainbow

Class Seven: Ratna Family (Yellow) -  Explanation and painting of exterior blue

Class Eight: Ratna Family - Personal visualization and coloring of the dakini and rainbow

Class Nine: Karma Family (Green) -  Explanation and painting of exterior blue

Class Ten: Karma Family - Personal visualization and color of dakini and rainbow


Course curriculum

  • 1

    Welcome to the course!

    • Course Schedule and Basic Information

    • Online Classroom Etiquette and Technical Requirements

    • Art Materials Required for this Course

    • Navigating this Learning Platform

    • Navigating Online Learning Platform (PDF)

    • Join the Tibetan Thangka Art Community

  • 2


    • The Art of Nirvana: Introduction to Tibetan Thangka Art with Tiffani Gyatso

    • Mothers of Liberation: Introduction with Tiffani Gyatso

    • Daily Thangka Prayers

    • Dakini Sketch - PLEASE PRINT

  • 3


    • Class One

    • Class Two

    • Class Three

    • Class Four

    • Class Five: April 7

    • Class Six: April 14

    • Class Seven: April 21

    • Class Eight: April 28

    • Class Nine: May 5

    • Class Ten: May 12


Tiffani Gyatso

Tiffani Gyatso is an artist from Brazil who focused her studies on the sacred expressions of art from different cultures. She specialized in traditional Tibetan Thangka painting, which she learned in India at the Norbulingka Institute from the years 2003-2006 and later furthered her studies at the Prince School of Traditional Arts in London where she studied sacred Geometry of the Middle East. Today she runs her own art retreat center at the Atelier YabYum at the mountains of Brazil and guides art groups to India and Nepal.