Mandalas (the word means "circle" in Sanskrit) are geometric designs intended to symbolize the universe. They are most often drawn or painted but they can be modeled or danced or made of sand as well. In whatever form they take, these spiritual and beautiful cosmologies are meant to hold and intensify the imagination of the viewer. The image most people form in their mind when they hear the word "mandala" is a brightly colored, complex painting-which describes a typical Tibetan mandala. This usually contains a principal deity (or deities) in the inner circle around which is a multilevel square palace in a multitiered circle. Around this large circle are additional figures. There are many other types of mandalas, however, which Mandala: The Architecture of Enlightenment, on view in Gallery 3, will illustrate. In addition to Tibetan mandalas, mandalas from China, Japan, Nepal, Bhutan, and Indonesia-approximately fifty examples in all-will be shown. All mandalas are tied to the practice of Buddhism and are fundamentally representations of a specific divinity in the cosmos. They operate as diagrams of the cosmos but also as meditative guides to nurture a Buddhist"s development toward enlightenment. The exhibition explores the genesis of the mandala in early Buddhist art, its relationship to other sacred sites such as paradises, and its development and spread throughout Buddhist Asia. The exhibition is divided into several sections: Section One Sanctity, Space, and the Cosmos in Buddhist Art and Thought explores the foundations of mandala imagery in buildings such as stupas, large circular burial grounds marking the remains of a Buddha. The spatial organization of the stupa provides the basic format for the mandalas that appear in later Buddhist art. Section Two Multiple Universes: Buddhist Pure Land and Other Perfected Worlds demonstrates how the development of a complex cosmological basis for Buddhist thought-which included numerous Buddhas, bodhisattvas, and other deities as Buddhism evolved in various cultures-and the belief in multiple universes stimulated the depiction of more conceptual spaces or Buddhist paradises. These "pure lands" are conducive to enlightenment and help the faithful transcend the cycles of death and rebirth and attain the Buddhist goal of nirvana. Several examples from Tibet, Bhutan, and Japan are included in this section. Section Three Variety and Diversity in Mandalas from Tibet and Nepal focuses on the great variety of mandalas in the art of the Himalayan region and the role of multiple mandalas in a single painting or series. Several are based on the important late Buddhist text Kalachakra Tantra. Also included in this section are painted and sculpted representations of the Kalachakra deity. Section Four Regional Variations: Mandalas in South and East Asia includes a three-dimensional Indonesian example of the Vajradhatu Mandala, one of the first extant examples of this icon which was known in East Asia, Western Tibet, and Indonesia as early as the eighth century. Japanese examples of this type also are shown. Recent archeological discoveries have led to a reexamination of China, Central Asia, and other regions in the development of mandala forms.