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Tibetan Prayer Flags
Tibetan Prayer Flags are thought to promote peace, compassion, strength, wisdom, and good fortune, and to dispel danger. They are also said to bring happiness and good health for all who hang the flags as well as for their families, loved ones, neighbors, nearby strangers and even enemies.
Zanzibar carries over a dozen sizes and styles of prayer flags including ones made from paper, machine and hand-woven cotton and polyester, all of which are hand printed using traditionally hand carved print blocks. Some are produced by multi-generational families while others are produced by Tibetan Monks - please visit our gallery for the best selection.
Tibetan Prayer Flags are thought to promote
peace, compassion, strength, wisdom, and good fortune, and to dispel
danger. They are also said to bring happiness and good health for all who
hang the flags as well as for their families, loved ones, neighbors,
nearby strangers and even enemies. They traditionally are hung outdoors,
where the wind has the opportunity to move them and thus, release their
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 is an acknowledgement that all beings are part of a greater, on-going circle of existence.
To some people unfamiliar with the prayer flag tradition, the flags may at first seem a bit folksy or humble looking. Frayed edges as opposed to neat hemlines are typical, and are not a sign of poor quality. Rather the frayed edges are a part of the nature of the thin cotton gauze or polyester material. In fact, the impermanence of the flag is important to its function: as each thread is torn from the flag, it carries part of its message of peace to the air, sky and universe.
In Tibet, they are called “Lung-Tha,” which translates to “Windhorse,” and are traditionally hung around auspicious places such as temples, stupas, mountain tops and passes, as well as above homes and fields. The Windhorse rides on the breezes and carries prayers to the universe, to benefit all sentient beings.
The Windhorse is the power of strength, a subduer of evil and the vehicle of enlightenment. The central image is that of a horse bearing three flaming jewels, each representing the Tibetan Buddhist trinity; the triple refuge of the Buddha, the Dharma (Buddhist teachings), and the Sangha (Buddhist monastic community). It represents freedom from fear, and removes all obstacles. The flapping of the flags in a strong breeze sounds as the hooves of the Windhorse, galloping across the sky (thunder). Buddhists believe that those who have good Windhorse have good fortune, and good luck. If you are down on your luck, hang a prayer flag!
Along with the prayers, printed in Tibetan script, invocations and other traditional images include supernatural animals, saints, deities and powerful symbols such as Snows Lions, Milarepa, Tara and the Kalachakra. As the Buddhist spiritual approach is non-theistic, the elements of Tantric iconography do not stand for external beings, but present aspects of enlightenment (i.e. compassion, perfect action, fearlessness, etc). Displayed with respect, Dharma prints impart a feeling of harmony and bring to mind the precious teachings.
The color of a prayer flag and the symbols printed on it create a prayer or offering that the wind distributes to the world each time it brushes against the flag. The five flag colors represent the five Buddha families and the five elements: Blue – earth, White – water, Red – fire, Green – air or wind, and Saffron – infinite space.
The origin of Prayer Flags in Tibet is said to date back to 1042. While our flags vary in material (both cotton and polyester), size, and quality, they are all hand printed from hand-carved woodblocks in the traditional manner, and thus images may vary in quality. Some are created in Tibet, while Tibetan Buddhist monks and other Tibetan refugees in exile make others in Nepal or India, in small cottage industries or family run workshops.
Our flags fade gracefully when hung outdoors. Horizontal flags are intended to be mounted between poles, on the edge of a roof (similar to Christmas lights), between trees, or from a pole to another surface – but never the ground.
Because the symbols and mantras are considered sacred, please treat them respectfully. Do not allow them to touch the ground. When disposing of old flags, please burn them. Many Buddhists follow certain rites and ceremonies (including making incense or smoke offerings) when hanging flags. For complete instructions, visit our website at: www.zanzibar-trading.com/. To find informative articles, type in 'Prayer Flags' under the on-site search engine, or look under the 'ARTICLES' heading on the right side of the page.
It is generally accepted that it is GOOD LUCK to raise flags on Mondays and very auspicious on Fridays. Many Buddhists believe that you should not hang prayer flags on certain days (it is okay for flags that were raised prior to continue to fly on these days).
According to the Tibetan Calendar there are certain days when a "baden entity" is present. Those days are inauspicious for raising new prayer flags. A baden senpo is a demon of the naga class of elemental spirits. Raising flags when that energy is active can actually have a negative effect. This does not apply to prayer flags that are already up; it only applies to the raising of new flags. Fortunately the baden senpos are only active a few days a month.
The Dali Lama states that it is less important the day you hang the flags, than your good intentions. Thank you for your purchase of these Prayer Flags. We hope that they bring you peace and a new appreciation for the world. Hang them in good faith. Thank you for supporting traditional Buddhist families. We hope that they bring you peace and a new appreciation for the world. Hang them in good faith. Please burn your flags when they are removed and do not let them touch the ground.