Prayer Flags

Throughout Bhutan in high mountain passes, rooftops and lowland prayer flags flutter in the wind to send a steady stream of mantras to the deities. As the air passes over the printed surface of the flag, it is sweetened and purified to benefit all sentient beings in the area. A typical prayer flag has at its central image a horse bearing three flaming jewels on its back. The horse is known as “wind – horse” and the three jewels symbolize Buddha, the Buddhist teachings and the Buddhist Community.

Together, these symbols make up the equivalent of a Bhutanese Trinity. The five colors of prayer flags symbolize five earthly elements : blue for water , green for wood , red for fire , yellow for earth and white for air. On the tip of the prayer flag , the knife represents the Buddha of knowledge (Jampelyang) , which repels ignorance and the wheel represents the lotus-born saint , Guru Rinpoche.

On the four corners of the flag are printed pictures of tiger, snow lion , a Garuda and a water dragon , which represent the four elements : air, fire, earth and water. In the middle of the flag, a horse carrying wish – fulfilling jewels refers to the nature of the space. Beneath each animal, specific prayers and wishes are inscribed. Diagrams sings are also printed for good luck.

When the flag flutters in the wind, positive energy is generated converting misfortune into good fortune. Also, prayers are sent to the deities for long life and good fortune of the person who erects the flag.