Skip to content
3 October 2011 / leggypeggy

Tibet—the land of prayer flags

Prayer flags are hung all over the mountain passes of Tibet, and anywhere else someone can reach.

Tibet is almost totally decorated with multi-coloured prayer flags. Wherever there’s even just a puff of wind, there are flags. The theory is that the winds will distribute the inscribed blessings across the land.

I was amazed to see exactly where the flags hang. In addition to festooning the outside of temples and monasteries, every mountain pass and most household rooftops, the flags are suspended across rivers and dangling from steep mountain tops. I have no idea how people got the flags where they are, but they add wonderful colour, spontaneity, spirit and peace to the countryside.

The normal order of colours for a single set of flags is supposed to be blue, white, red, green, yellow—representing, in order, the elements of space, water, fire, air, earth—but I have seen variations on this. Sometimes the flags are especially large—almost the size of banners—and in all one colour.

According to guidebooks, the flags are replaced annually, on the third day after the Tibetan New Year, but I doubt that. Some places have so many flags that it seems almost impossible to remove even a single one of them. Likewise, some flags are so faded and so tattered that they must have been hanging in place for quite a few years. For a very long time, I had a set strung across my own garden, but they disintegrated last year. Time to buy a new set from OxFam. I would have bought a set in Tibet, but we are travelling light and it will be nice to contribute the money through OxFam.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

One Comment

Leave a Comment
  1. Louise M Oliver / Oct 3 2011 9:13 pm

    Hi Peggy,
    Thanks for that. Whenever we see Tibetan people in the media they always come across as being so happy and friendly. All of those flags, irrespective of who placed them or when, confirm that, despite political difficulties, Tibet is a friendly and colourful place. The photo is lovely so thanks for that. And your garden seems an ideal place to have multi-coloured flags. Take care and ‘hello’ to Poor John.

    Best wishes


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: