Tag Archives: Windhorse

Tibetan Windhorse Prayer Flags

About Tibetan Buddhist Prayer Flags

Tibetan prayer flags are used to promote peace, wisdom, and compassion. The bright cloth flags are printed with auspicious symbols, invocations, prayers, and mantras. Tibetans believe that the prayers will be spread by the wind, bringing goodwill and auspiciousness to all beings.

Tibetan prayer flagsThe hanging of prayer flags is a tradition dating back thousands of years to ancient Buddhist India and to the Bon tradition of pre-Buddhist Tibet. Tibetans hang prayer flags at mountain passes and at temples, stupas, and other sacred structures so their prayers can be released.

Sadly, Chinese authorities have recently ordered the destruction of prayer flags in many areas of Tibet in what has been called “one of China’s most direct assaults to date on visible symbols of Tibetan culture and religious belief”.

Meaning of the Tibetan Prayer Flag Colors

Tibetan prayer flags are rich in symbolic meaning. The flags come in sets of five and are hung left to right in this specific order: blue, white, red, green, and yellow. Each of the colors represents an element. Blue symbolizes the sky and space, white symbolizes the air and wind, red symbolizes fire, green symbolizes water, and yellow symbolizes earth.

windhorse prayer flags, A Tibetan Buddhist nun hangs windhorse prayer flags at the nunnery

A Tibetan Buddhist nun hangs windhorse prayer flags at Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute. Photo courtesy of Olivier Adam

You don’t have to be a Buddhist to hang prayer flags, but they should be handled with respect. As you hang them, you should have good motivation, keeping in mind the flags’ ultimate purpose to spread positivity far and wide.

The square-shaped, horizontally strung prayer flags are the most common, but there are also vertical prayer flags mounted on poles.

Windhorse Prayer Flags

The wind horse or lungta is the most prevalent symbol used on Tibetan prayer flags. These are the most popular prayer flags sold in our online store. All the prayer flags sold by the Tibetan Nuns Project are handmade and blessed by the Tibetan Buddhist nuns at Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute in India. Proceeds from the sales help fund education, food, shelter, clothing and health care for over 700 nuns at seven nunneries in India.

In the center of the windhorse prayer flag is the image of a powerful horse called a lungta or རླུང་རྟ in Tibetan. On its back, the horse bears three flaming jewels which are the cornerstones of Tibetan philosophical tradition. These jewels represent the Buddha, the dharma (the Buddhist teachings), and the sangha (the Buddhist community). The horse (ta orརྟ in Tibetan) is a symbol of speed and the transformation of bad fortune to good fortune.

red windhorse Tibetan prayer flag showing symbols and prayers

Surrounding the windhorse or lungta are mantras or prayers written in Tibetan. Clockwise starting from the top left corner of the prayer flags are images of four powerful animals, also known as the Four Dignities: the garuda, the dragon, the snow lion, and the tiger.

Together the Four Dignities represent the attitudes and sacred qualities that Bodhisattvas develop on the path to enlightenment – qualities such as fearlessness (garuda), gentle power (dragon), clear awareness (snow lion), and confidence (tiger).

On both sides of the prayer flag are the eight auspicious symbols of Buddhism which represent the offerings made to the Buddha when he attained enlightenment:

  • The Precious Parasol
  • The Vase of Great Treasures
  • The White Conch Shell
  • The Victory Banner
  • The Two Golden Fish
  • The Lotus Flower
  • The Eternal Knot
  • The Eight Spoked Wheel

Windhorse prayer flags made by the nuns are available in three sizes. You can buy Windhorse Prayer flags here.

Hanging prayer flags at your home or business brings a feeling of harmony and calls to mind the teachings of the Buddha. Proper motivation is important when raising prayer flags. You should hang them with the wish that all beings everywhere will find happiness and be free from suffering.

Tibetan prayer flags made and blessed by nuns

The Tibetan Nuns Project sells Tibetan prayer flags made and blessed by the Tibetan Buddhist nuns at Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute, near Dharamsala, northern India.

The nuns have been making prayer flags for many years now and the sale of these specially blessed objects helps provide food, health care, shelter and education for the over 230 nuns who live at the nunnery, as well as help support around 500 nuns at 6 other nunneries in India.

nun making Tibetan prayer flags

Making Tibetan prayer flags at Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute. Sales of prayer flags through the Tibetan Nuns Project online store benefit the nuns at Dolma Ling as well as six other nunneries in India.

Traditionally, prayer flags come in sets of five, with one flag in each of five colors, left to right in this specific order: blue, white, red, green, and yellow. The five colors represent the elements: blue symbolizes the sky and space, white symbolizes the air and wind, red symbolizes fire, green symbolizes water, and yellow symbolizes earth.

Prayer flags are used to promote peace, compassion, strength, and wisdom. Tibetans believe the prayers and mantras will be spread by the wind and bring good will and compassion to benefit all beings.

Prayer flags are made of block-printed fabric using traditional printing techniques going back hundreds of years.

When raising prayer flags it is important to have a good motivation. One should not have selfish or limiting thoughts; when hanging prayer flags one should wish that all beings everywhere will benefit and find happiness.

Tibetan tradition considers prayer flags to be holy. The flags contain sacred texts and symbols and should be treated respectfully. They should not be placed on the ground or put in the trash. When disposing of old prayer flags one should burn them so that the smoke may carry their blessings to the heavens.

You can buy Tibetan prayer flags through the Tibetan Nuns Project online store. They come in a variety of types and sizes of prayer flags as follows:

mini Tibetan prayer flagsMini Prayer Flags

These are perfect for small spaces such as above a desk or computer or in a kitchen window. Each mini flag in the set of 5 has one symbol and one syllable of the mantra OM MANI PADME HUM on it. Probably the oldest Buddhist mantra and still the most widespread among Tibetans is this six-syllable mantra of Avalokiteshvara, the Bodhisattva of Compassion. This mantra sends blessings of compassion to the six worldly realms. Buy mini prayer flags here.

Windhorse Tibetan prayer flagsWindhorse Prayer Flags

The Wind Horse or Lung-ta is the most prevalent symbol used on prayer flags. In the center of the prayer flag is a powerful horse (lung-ta) bearing three flaming jewels on its back. These jewels represent the Buddha, the Dharma (Buddhist teachings), and the Sangha (Buddhist community) which are the three cornerstones of Tibetan philosophical tradition. The horse (Ta) is a symbol of speed and the transformation of bad fortune to good fortune. Surrounding the Lung ta are mantras and Buddhist sacred symbols. In the corners of the prayer flags are images four powerful animals, also known as the Four Dignities: the dragon, the garuda, the tiger, and the snow lion. Windhorse prayer flags made by the nuns are available in three sizes. Buy Windhorse Prayer flags here.

Tara Tibetan Prayer flagsTara Prayer Flags

Tara represents virtuous and enlightened action. It is said that her compassion for living beings is stronger than a mother’s love for her children. She also brings about longevity, protects earthly travel, and guards her followers on their spiritual journey to enlightenment. The Tara prayer flags have a lovely image of Tara in the center.  You can order Tara prayer flags in three sizes here.

Guru Rinpoche prayer flagsGuru Rinpoche Prayer Flags

Padmasambhava, the renowned saint of the eighth century, was a central figure in shaping Buddhism’s history in Tibet. Revered as the second Buddha, Guru Rinpoche (Precious Guru) conquered the local deities and demons of Tibet and bound them by oath to become guardians of Buddhism. Purchase Guru Rinpoche prayer flags in three sizes here.

Gyaltsen Tsenpo Tibetan Prayer flagsGyaltsen Tsenpo Prayer Flags

This is a common prayer flag, especially at New Year, symbolizing new ventures and beginnings. Gyaltsen Tsenpo prayer flags are printed with sutras bestowed by Lord Buddha to Indra, king of the gods to overcome his enemies and achieve victory. Order Gyaltsen Tsenpo prayer flags in three sizes here.