Tibetan prayer flag

Tibetan prayer flag is used to promote peace, compassion, and wisdom.  As you arrive in Tibet, the first and foremost welcoming signs you would see in Tibet is a beautiful prayer flag. which we hang on our rooftop and the mountain pass. The flags are a very important cultural and religiously important to us. Tibetan prayer flags have inscriptions of auspicious symbols, Invocation, Sutra, and Mantras. This inscription believes in producing a spiritual vibration that is activated on the touch of the wind and carried on to the high distance. Whoever will be touch by the wind will get uplifted and become a little happier. Because these small prayers dissolved in the wind and extend to all space and benefit the entire sentence being.

The tradition of Prayer flags has a long and continuous history back to ancient India, Tibet, Persia, and China. Hence this tradition is now becoming very important for the mountaineering communities and Neo Buddhist around the globe. The meaning of the script on the prayer flag and symbols are indeed base on the most profound Buddhist philosophy.

The word for prayer flag in Tibetan is Dhar Cho, Dhar means increase, Increase of life, fortune, health and wealth. and Cho means all the sentient being. This simple device co-related the wind energy, harmonize the environment and bring happiness and prosperity to all the living.

History of Tibetan prayer flag

There are many concepts about how Tibetan prayer flag come into existence, some says the customs of prayer flags come from Nepal, there are other who says it dates back to Buddha times and many Tibetan scholars believe the culture of Tibetan prayer flags is homegrown during the pre-Buddhist era.

Here is some theory we firmly believe. One approach says legend ascribes the origin of prayer flags to Buddha himself, his prayer written on battle flags used by the devas against their adversaries. This tradition is later introduced in Tibet in 1040 with further modifications.

According to many Tibetan scholars, the origin of Prayer flags dates back the pre-Buddhist era. The Bon priest would use five color flags for healing ceremonies. each color is the representation of the different elements; space, air, fire, earth and water, the fundamental building blocks of nature.

Colored flags help to appease the local gods and spirits of steams, lake, valley and mountain. When provoked there elemental beings were thought to cause natural disasters and illness. Therefore balancing the outer elements and propitiating the elemental spirits with offering and rituals is the Bonpo way of calming the nature and invoking the blessing of the gods.

During the 8th century, Tibetan king invites guru Padmasambhava to Tibet for control the spiritual force preventing the spread to the new religion to Tibet. He bound the local spirits into the oath to become the protector deity to help spread and maintain Buddhism to the land of Tibet. He writes many of the Prayer as we use now.

Tibetan Prayer flag meaning:

These Tibetan Prayer flags are raised to spread the blessing and to prevent the misfortunes. They are different types of prayer flags for different Buddhas and gods.

The Prayer flags Types.

Tibetan prayer flags can be categories into two dozen types; half dozen of which comprise prayer flags we see nowadays.

Wind horse

(lung Ta) is the most common kind of prayer flags, so much that many people think the word itself takes place and meaning prayer flag. The purpose is to raid the energy of the good fortune of the beings in the vicinity of the Prayer flag. In the middle of the flag, we have a pictural form of the wind horse carrying the three precious jewels. On the four corners of the flags are always guarded by the four great animals; the Garuda, Dragon, Tiger and the Snow Lion. The Text of the flags differ, the Victory banner sutra is the most popular.

Victorious Banners:

Victorious Banner (the Sutra) is the most popular kind of prayer flag. This sutra is useful for overcoming obstacles and disturbances; Once Buddha Shakyamuni gave the sutra to Indra, the king of god realm. The prayer flag is displayed sutra along with symbol like wind horse, Auspicious signs, Possessions of Monarch and union of opposites. Special mantras are added too to increase harmony, health, wealth and good fortune.

Health and longevity flags:

This flag usually has a short version of Buddha’s long life sutra with mantra and prayer of long life and prayers. Amitayus, the Buddha of limitless life is in the center and other two long-life deities; white Tara and the Vijaya

The Wishi fulfilling prayer (Sampa Lhundrup):

Guru Padmasambhava wrote this prayer. It is relevant to this modern age, and it is suitable for protecting against war, famine, natural disaster, overcoming obstacles and swiftly attaining one’s wishes. This type of Flags has Guru Rinpoche in the center and repetitions of his mantra.

Praise to the 21 Taras:

Lord Atish translates this sutra in the 11th century. And the first of this prayer flag is attribute to him. This flag usually depicts Green Tara in the middle and conclude with her mantra. Spreading the compassionate blessing is the main purpose of the flag.

Other popular types of Tibetan prayer flags are; Avalokiteshvara – Bodhisattva of Compassion, The Warrior-King Gesar, The White Umbrella for Protection, the Kurukulle Power Flag, Manjushri- Embodiment of Wisdom, Milarepa – the Yogisaint, and the Vast Luck Flag.

How we make Prayer flag:

The crafts of Making making Tibetan prayer flags have changed along with the changes in technologies. Initially, Tibetan writes the prayer flags by the hand of the color clothes. Later with the introduction of wooden block printing. For many centuries, we print the prayer flags using the woodblock printing for more accuracy and durability.

The method of making Prayer flag using the wooden block is still a most preferred for it durability after posting it. But with the new development of easy screen printing, many of us often used Prayer flags printed using the screen printing.

After each flag is print, we will stitch together on a nylon rope for the longevity. The order of the prayer flag is; first the blue, white, red, green and yellow.

The travelers’ guide to Tibetan prayer flag:

It is one of the things to do in Tibet while you are in Tibet. So we have always ask my clients to buy some prayer flags and try to put it on the mountain pass and essential local like Mount Kailash and Mount Everest Base Camp. We hope you like my post about Tibetan prayer flags. if you do, Please do share and like this post. If you would like read more on topics related to Tibetan prayer flag, Tibetan religion and culture, click here and learn more about the Prayer flag on Wikipedia.

During your Tibet travel please do not forget to hand prayer flags in high mountain pass during your Tibet tour.

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