What is Sand Painting?

The definition of sand painting is straightforward. Like most arts, it is an old practice. To compose sand paintings, the artist pours different pigmented sands or bits of chalk-like materials that were also poured on. Now that we’ve described the initial answer of the simple question of “What is Sand painting?” we will migrate to some methods and a succinct look into the origins of the art.

Sand panting spans the globe across all continents. It reaches back quite well in the past. We can find it in the territory of the Native American artists. Like much of their antiquity, a lot of sand painting reflected religious or superstitious essence. In such a commencement, this act was done in small, hut-like earthen huts. Sometimes an animal skin from deer were used to catch sand that is carefully filtered through one’s hands in a precise pattern. They also used manufactured sheets of pliable cloth or other such constructs. The most significant tribe that contributed to our knowledge of sand painting are the Navajos.

Much Native American the sand paintings, if not all, were religious in this rite so that even the paintings were considered to have deistic, spiritual essence. Pure, untainted, granulated rock and raw sand of different hues were made to portray illustrious patterns.

The paintings were used to supernaturally heal people. In these ceremonies an ill person sat on a richly crafted sand painting. A “medicine man” would then chant and spirits are thought to exit in and out of the bodily afflicted person.

On the Australian continent, the aborigines made multiple kinds of art along with sand paining. They were brought to prominence in the 21st century by an Australian man named Geoffrey Bardon. Notably, there were clashes that arose in the US specifically in the 1960’s and 1970’s.

In the 1950’s there first arose a movement that had an affect on painting called minimalism. This was the use in art that focused on uniform, plain constructs meant to be void of extra meaning or intention. In other words, it was “just for looks.” I this way, it is similar to fine art which is called by some as “art for art’s sake.”

There is no absolute individual who coined the term minimalism. However, there was an esteemed, and significant musician named Phillip glass who vouches that Tom Johnson coined minimalism.

Tom Johnson was a high class politician and successful entrepreneur who lived in mid-18th century to the beginning of the 19th century. Yet still there is no sure person who has been credited with minimalism.

Next, there are the equally fascinating sand paintings of the inhabitants located in the Tibet Mountains. Like the Navajos, their works were highly spiritual and religious. They reflected different specific faiths. This includes the Indian religion of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Japanese Shintoism.

Shintoism, for one, involved ancestor worship and the sacred soul that permeated living and non-living subjects. Each conceptualized pattern reflected a reference to paradise in this belief system.

Tibetan sand painting was particularly rich in composition and color. Sand painting in this aspect took extensive time to complete. Buddhists, for example, involved the use of a large surface that sand was laid on. And, unfortunately for archaeologists, these works of art were dashed to pieces after finishing it to demonstrate the continual change in all entities, conscious or not.

As mentioned before, there exists a few more forms from Europe and the Japanese Islands. The most up to date pieces came from Europe but they had their inspirations from the above mentioned geographical places that gave birth to the more modern, developed forms of sand art.

As always, I hope you found this brief narration of the different kinds of sand art enlightening and fun. Please feel free to leave comments on whatever I talked about! Or, just leave something on any art-related subjects.


This four piece set combines images of sand art and rock art. I think it’s a very good deal for the quality with both the picture clarity and the aesthetic feeling it procures. My personal favorite is the bottom right. The contours are soothing to the eye and the stacks of round stones presents a simple, calm Fengshui so to speak. It is excellent to display in a living room. It can be a stress breaker to simplify conversation one-on-one or in groups.

I think this little kid’s toy is totally rad! If you have an art making and admiring child, this is a great gift! I honestly wish I had this as a child. And don’t tell me it is the same for you as an adult. Click the link to see its features. I will also note this got voted as a best gift from Ocean Heart!



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