tibetan prayer flags | Ancient Chinese Culture

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Tibetan Prayer Flags

The prayer flags, called “Lung ta” or “wind-horse flags” in Tibetan, are colorful rectangular cloth often found hung in strings on the tops of temples, mountains, the roofs of the houses, etc. Buddhist scriptures or mantra are pressed on these colorful flags. Tibetan people believe that scriptures or mantra on the flags will create an offering or prayer and the wind will distribute it to the world every time it brushes against the flag.

In Tibet, there spread many beautiful legends regarding the origin of the prayer flags. Among them, the most popular one goes that, once upon a time, Buddha was thinking deeply with his eyes closed. Suddenly, the scriptures on Buddha’s hands were broken into pieces by a strong wind and carried by the wind to all corner of the world. All the people who got the fragment of scriptures also got happiness. Therefore, people made prayer flags to thank the Buddha’s gifts, hoping to get peace, long life, prosperity, happiness, etc.

Traditional Tibetan Prayer Flags feature five colors, representing the five elements. Their order is strictly followed from left to right or top to bottom:

Blue – sky
White – clouds
Red – sun/fire
Green – vegetation/water
Yellow – earth/soil

The prayer flags mean a great deal to the Tibetan people and as a symbol of good luck, they are renewed on a certain date of each year. On that day, most Tibetan people will dress up in traditional costumes to attend a grand ceremony which is held to renew the prayer flags.

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