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Making Torma (Butter and Roasted Barley Flour Sculptures) (activity)

Torma Offerings

Torma Offerings. June 24, 2006. Photograph by dharmaphotographs.

Making a Torma

Making a Torma

Finished Torma Example

Finished Torma Example

Torma Offerings
Making a Torma
Finished Torma Example

To create a sculpture in the style of Tibetan torma.

30 minutes

Torma, butter and roasted barley flour sculptures, are a uniquely Tibetan concept and are usually made by teams of monks in preparation for a religious festival. They are made by mixing a dough of barley flour and butter, and sculpting it on a form of wood and leather. Then they are painted in brilliant, symbolic colors. They are given as offerings to the deities. After the ceremony they are destroyed, like a sand mandala would be. The destruction is to remind us of the impermanence of things and help us overcome our attachment to things of this world, even those we love the most. (

Torma sculptures take many forms. Some look like stupas, others take the form of Penden Lhamo’s mule, others look like mandalas, others are abstract floral offerings, others are like flaming daggers. Students can take their inspiration from a Tibetan art work they have seen or create their own.

Materials: red, green, blue, yellow colored Playdoh (an approved substitute); video: His Holiness Karmapa Discusses Torma Shapes and Colors


  1. View the clips from the video His Holiness Karmapa Discusses Torma Shapes and Colors with your students
  2. Have students sketch/plan their ideas
  3. Mold the base with white Playdoh
  4. Add decorations with colored Playdoh
  5. Use toothpicks to attach decorations