Prayer Flags

For the month of September, you will be making prayer flags that will be strung together and hung.

Using real objects and textured materials to create a layered collage create a prayer flag inspired by Tibetan prayer flag. Typically, the composition of a prayer flag has an image in the center with a written mantra repeated around it like a repeating word or prose that speaks to a state of mind or something you learned or an aspiration or an affirmation.

Crate your own prayer flag that encapsulates an idea/message either for yourself, someone you care about, community, or world. Your flags should have or be made from positives intentions and can be representational or non-representational in visual arrangement.

Suggested Materials: Nature (leaves, rocks, sticks that will dry nicely); keepsakes; any materials you want to use that can be sewn together or glued.

History | General Info |Visual Examples

A Tibetan prayer flag is a colorful rectangular cloth, often found strung along trails and peaks high in the Himalayas. They are used to bless the surrounding countryside and for other purposes.

Traditionally, prayer flags come in sets of five: one in each of five colors. The five colors are arranged from left to right in a specific order: blue, white, red, green, and yellow. The five colors represent the five elements[2] and the Five Pure Lights. Different elements are associated with different colors for specific traditions, purposes and sadhana. Blue symbolizes the sky and space, white symbolizes the air and wind, red symbolizes fire, green symbolizes water, and yellow symbolizes earth.[2] According to Traditional Tibetan medicine, health and harmony are produced through the balance of the five elements.[2]

Traditionally, prayer flags are used to promote peace, compassion, strength, and wisdom. The flags do not carry prayers to gods, which is a common misconception; rather, the Tibetans believe the prayers and mantras will be blown by the wind to spread the good will and compassion into all pervading space. Therefore, prayer flags are thought to bring benefit to all.

By hanging flags in high places the Lung ta will carry the blessings depicted on the flags to all beings. As wind passes over the surface of the flags, which are sensitive to the slightest movement of the wind, the air is purified and sanctified by the mantras.

The prayers of a flag become a permanent part of the universe as the images fade from exposure to the elements. Just as life moves on and is replaced by new life, Tibetans renew their hopes for the world by continually mounting new flags alongside the old. This act symbolizes a welcoming of life’s changes and an acknowledgment that all beings are part of a greater ongoing cycle.

According to traditional belief, because the symbols and mantras on prayer flags are sacred, they should be treated with respect. They should not be placed on the ground or used on clothing. Old prayer flags should be burned.

Some believe that if the flags are hung on inauspicious astrological dates, they may bring negative results for as long as they are flying. The best time to put up new prayer flags is in the morning on sunny, windy days.

In Tibet, old prayer flags are replaced with new ones annually on the Tibetan New Year.

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