PRAYER FLAG HISTORY
Prayer flags originate centuries ago from the Bön tradition in Tibet, where they are hung to remove obstacles and bring good fortune. Later with the advent of Buddhism, the practice of offering prayer flags was adapted with the printing of specific Buddhist prayers. The offering of prayer flags is now a common practice across Tibet and the Himalayas. This practice has proliferated around the world.
Prayer flags (Tibetan: དར་ལྕོག་) are printed in five colors – blue for the sky, white for air/wind, red for fire, green for water and yellow for earth – and are traditionally woodblock-printed with sacred images and text. The center of the flag often depicts a lungta (Tibetan: རླུང་རྟ་) meaning wind horse, a symbol of speed and transformation of bad fortune to good, bearing three jewels on its back that represent the Buddha, Buddhist teachings and the Buddhist community. Images of four sacred animals – dragon, garuda, tiger and snow lion – can appear in the corners. Covering the rest of the flag are versions of many mantras (powerful ritual utterances) and prayers for peace and harmony.
Tibetan and Himalayan peoples believe that when the wind breezes the flags, it spreads the blessings, good will and compassion embodied in the images and writings across the land. Eventually, the prints fade and the prayers become part of the universe, and the prayer flags are renewed.