Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Making Tibetan Buddhist flags in geography class on Thurs
A prayer flag is a colorful panel or rectangular cloth often found strung along mountain ridges and peaks high in the Himalayas to bless the surrounding countryside or for other purposes, says Wikipedia.
There are two kinds of prayer flags: horizontal ones, called lung ta (meaning "Wind Horse") in Tibetan, and the vertical Darchor. "Dar" translates as "to increase life, fortune, health and wealth", "Cho" translates as "all sentient beings".
Traditionally, prayer flags are used to promote peace, compassion, strength, and wisdom. The flags do not carry prayers to 'gods,' 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.
Lung Ta (horizontal) prayer flags are of square or rectangular shape and are connected along their top edges to a long string or thread. They are commonly hung on a diagonal line from high to low between two objects (e.g., a rock and the top of a pole) in high places such as the tops of temples, monasteries, stupas or mountain passes.
Traditionally, prayer flags come in sets of five, one in each of five colors. The five colors represent the elements, and the Five Pure Lights and are arranged from left to right in a specific order. Different elements are associated with different colors for specific traditions, purposes and sadhana:
* Blue (symbolizing sky/space)
* White (symbolizing air/wind)
* Red (symbolizing fire)
* Green (symbolizing water)
* Yellow (symbolizing earth)
The center of a prayer flag traditionally features a "Ta" (powerful or strong horse) bearing three flaming jewels (specifically ratna) on its back. The Ta is a symbol of speed and the transformation of bad fortune to good fortune. The three flaming jewels symbolize the Buddha, the Dharma (Buddhist teachings), and the Sangha (Buddhist community), the three cornerstones of Tibetan philosophical tradition.
Surrounding the Ta are various versions of approximately 400 traditional mantras (powerful ritual utterances).