Tibetan Prayer Flags: Spreading Blessings on the Wind

Tibetan Prayer Flags: Spreading Blessings on the Wind

If you were to visit any of the many remote villages dotted throughout Tibet, high up in the Himalayan mountains where the Earth meets the clouds, you’d likely come across hundreds of strands of colorful flags laced across the rocky mountain landscape. These Tibetan prayer flags, or peace flags, can be found strung across mountain walkways, temples, and outdoor spaces, dotting the rugged terrain with brilliant colors.

Prayer flags are auspicious symbols intended to spread blessings of peace, wisdom, and compassion. Typically, a strand of Tibetan flags is composed of a number of small, colorful cloth squares strung together in a row. Prayer flags traditionally feature sacred imagery and text, often hand-printed with sacred symbols, mantras, and deities.

History & Symbolism

Prayer flags are deeply intertwined with Tibetan Buddhist practices; the dominant religion of the Tibetan region. Members of the Buddhist community in the Himalayas will hang Buddhist prayer flags as a way to spread blessings and the teachings of Buddha, which are carried on the wind and spread into the universe. The origin of these flags is believed to be based in the ancient Bon religion - the indigenous, shamanistic religion of Tibet - which is still practiced by around 400,000 Tibetans today.

Many Himalayan prayer flags feature motifs of horses (like these blank prayer flags). In Tibetan culture, this horse is known as the wind horse, or lungta/ lung ta (རླུང་རྟ) in the Tibetan language. According to legend, this swift and mighty steed carries prayers, just as the wind does. In the broader sense, lungta is viewed as a representation of the human soul, or qualities that bring positivity and success throughout Tibetan culture - a concept that predates Buddhism in the region. The windhorse functions as the vessel in which these positive attributes are spread, just as the wind carries them via prayer flags.

Strands of Tibetan prayer flags can come in a variety of colors, such as the 7 chakra colors, but the most common palette features red, blue, green, yellow, and white. These 5 colors correspond with the elements, as follows: 

Blue = Sky

White = Air

Red = Fire

Green = Water

Yellow = Earth

Authentic Tibetan Prayer Flags for Sale | DharmaCrafts

Pictured: Small Deities Prayer Flags

Incorporating Prayer Flags in a Backyard Meditation Space

Outdoor prayer flags can serve as a meaningful addition to any Buddhist meditation garden or outdoor meditation space where the wind will reach them. We recommend seeking the prayer flags which resonate the most with you. Would you like to invoke the blessings of the Buddha of medicine? Or perhaps the compassionate mantra of TaraWhen creating your DIY outdoor meditation space, hanging a few strands of prayer flags helps to imbue the surroundings with sacred blessings and auspicious energies.

Small Chakra Prayer Flags | DharmaCrafts

Pictured: Small Chakra Prayer Flags

As you assume your favorite meditation position in your backyard meditation space, take a moment to pause and watch the vivid colors of the prayer flags flutter in the wind. Consider the blessings each flag is decorated with, whether they be of healing affirmations, or powerful compassion mantras. Let their sacred symbolism wash over you, immersing you in radiating wisdom and compassion as you begin your daily outdoor meditation practice.

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