Friday, March 17, 2017

The Mandala - Eighth Wonder of the World

Dr Abe V Rotor 
Living with Nature School on Blog 
The mandala adds to the quaintness and joy of farm life to these children, particularly in
the harvest months in October to December. Detail of mural by AVR, 2008
The mandala is perhaps the eighth wonder of the world. It is a feat attributed to the farmer's ingenuity - and serendipity - that evolved through generations and eons of time, a feat nowhere to find, and nothing to compare with.

Here are some amazing features of the mandala.
  • Without any structural reinforcement except a single bamboo post at the center, this giant mushroom-like heap of rice hay can grow to several feet high. (physics and engineering principle)
  • When it rains the haystack gets wet only on the outside (surface tension or animal fur principle).
  • There is natural ventilation inside the stack preventing growth of fungi and bacteria, and the buildup of heat. (air-conditioning system principle)
  • Aerodynamics keeps the structure in shape, whatever is the strength and direction of wind. (wind tunnel test principle)
  • The haystack supplies domestic animals their regular supply of roughage, until the next harvest comes. As the lower part of the stack is consumed by the animal the whole weight slowly comes down to replenish it. (silo storage principle)
  • The remaining hay is used as mulch for vegetables and seedlings. It is also used as mushroom bed, and material for making compost. (microbiological action principle)
  • It is often a practice to stock palay-on-the-stalk (unthreshed) mandala style, a practical way of storage, where there are no poachers and rodents. (buffer stock eonomics principle)
  • Grain leftovers and spillages that otherise go to waste are gleaned by farm animals and ground fowls. Now and then the hay is used for makeshift shelter and floor matting. (waste utilization principle)
  • Hay is used to start a fire, it is burned to make shampoo, for firing bricks, and the ash is used as cleaning material and component of hollow block. (development of alternative, environment-friendly, products and energy principle)
Detail of mural by the author 
  • The mandala is a associated with village festivities. Our national artist, Fernando Amorsolo painted immortal scenes around the mandala. (sociology and humanities principle)
  • Next time you go to the countryside during harvest time, don't only pause, stay for a while and be part of a celebration beside a mandala - symbol of nature's bounty and man's thanksgiving. (Celebration of Life principle)
Here is a poem I wrote beside a mandala in Batac, Ilocos Norte, some years ago.

Whose hands shaped these giant mushrooms
dotting the fields far as one can see?
Helios' or Ceres' brooms 
or the busy hands of the bee?

Combed in a cone so perfect,
measured to shape by a gauge,
yet no burin or rule lies the secret,
but skill seasoned with age.

Totempoles of grassroots structure
are for toil and thanksgiving;
the rich panicles nurtured by nature
were earned by honest living.

Here lies the haystacks' might,
motionless and silent in a row;
within, like in the farmer, vibrates life,
life for him and the world tomorrow. ~

- Light in the Woods, AVR 1995

Left, Haystack by Claude Monet; Siesta by a Haystack by Vicent Van Gogh
 Haystacks, by other artists, capture as well the quaintness of the scene.  

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