Tibetan prayer flag

Tibetan prayer flag are 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 flags, we hung on our roof top and the mountain pass. The flags is an very important cultural and religiously important to us. Tibetan prayer flag are inscribe with auspicious symbols, Invocation, Sutra and Mantras. These inscription believes to produce a spiritual vibration that is activated on the touch of the wind and carried on to the great distance. whom ever will be touch by the wind will get uplifted and become little happier. A small prayers dissolved in wind and extend to all space and benefits the entire sentence being.

Tibetan prayer flag on pole

Tibetan prayer flag on pole

The tradition of Prayer flags has a long and continuous history back to ancient India, Tibet, Persia and China. Tradition is now becoming a 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. Cho mean all the sentient being. This simple device co related the wind energy, harmonize the environment and bring happiness and prosperity to all living beings.

History of Tibetan prayer flag

There are many concept 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 believes the culture of Tibetan prayer flags is a home grown during the pre-Buddhist era.

prayer flag on the roof top on Tibet

prayer flag on the roof top on Tibet

Here is some theory i strongly believes with. Once theory says, legend ascribe the origin to prayer flags to buddha himself, his prayer written on battle flags used by the devas against their adversaries. the traditions is later introduce 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 used 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 desaster and illness. balancing the outer elements and propitiating the elemental spirits with offering and rituals is the Bonpo way of pacifying the nature and invoking the blessing of the gods.

During the 8th century, Tibetan king invite guru padmasambhava to Tibet for control the spiritual force preventing the spread to new religion to Tibet. He bound the local spirits into the oath to becoming the protector deity to help spread and maintain buddhism to the land of Tibet. many of the Prayer as we use now are written by him.

Tibetan Prayer flag meaning:

This Tibetan Prayer flags are raise to spread the blessing and preventing the misfortunes. They are different types of prayer flags for different Buddhas and gods.

Different types of prayer flag.

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

Wind horse: (lung Ta) is the most common kind og prayer flags, so much that many people think the word itself takes the place and meaning prayer flag. the purposr is to raid the energy of the good fortune of the beings in the vicinity of the Prayer flag. In middle of the flag we have a pictural form of the wind horse carrying the three precious jewels. on the four corner 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) are the most popular kind of prayer flag. This sutra is used for overcoming obstacles and disturbances, 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 have 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): This prayer is written by Guru Padmasambhava. It is relevant to this modern age and it is good for protecting against war, famine, natural disaster, overcoming obstacles and swiftly attaining ones wishes. This type of Flags have Guru Rinpoche in the center and repetitions of his mantra.

Praise to the 21 Taras: this sutra is translated into Tibetan by Atisha in the 11th century. The first of this prayer flag is attributed to him. This flag usually depict Green tara in the middle and conclude with her mantra. The purpose of this flag is it spread compassionate blessing.

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.

Kailash and the Tibetan prayer Flag

Kailash and the Tibetan prayer Flag

Making Prayer flag:

The crafts of Making making Tibetan prayer flags has changes along with the changes in technologies. Initially the prayer flags are written by hand of the color clothes. later with the introduction of wooden block printing, for many centuries the prayer flags are printed using the wooden block 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.  Yet with the new development of easy screen printing many of us often used Prayer flags printed using the screen printing.

after each flags are print, we will stitch together on a nylon rope for the longevity. the stitching shall be be done in order; first the blue, white, red, green and yellow.

women walking infornt of Tibetan prayer flag in Bakhor in Lhasa

women walking infornt of Tibetan prayer flag in Bakhor in Lhasa

Travelers guide to Tibetan prayer flag:

Its is one of the things to do in Tibet while you are in Tibet. i have always ask my clients to buy some prayer flags and try to put it on the mountain pass and important local like Mount Kailash and Mount Everest Base Camp. I hope you like my post about Tibetan prayer flags. please do share and like this post. if you would like read more on topics related to Tibetan prayer flag and Tibetan religion and culture, click here and read more about Tibetan prayer flag on wikipedia



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