Activity:

Tibetan Prayer Flags

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What You Need:

  • Internet access
  • 9" x 12" or smaller piece of smooth fabric (try reusing an old sheet or pillowcase) in blue, white, red, green, or yellow (see step 1 for the symbolism behind each color)
  • Fabric paint or fabric markers (Sharpies in various colors also work well)
  • Safety pins
  • Fishing line or other hanging string

What You Do:

  1. Before starting the project, talk about the symbolism and significance of prayer flags with your child and look online for examples. Prayer flags traditionally come in sets of five, using five different colors that represent the elements, arranged in a specific order:
    • Blue for sky/space
    • White for air/wind
    • Red for fire
    • Green for water
    • Yellow for earth
  2. A horse, symbolizing speed or transformation, is usually placed in the center of a prayer flag, with four other animals at the corners: dragon, garuda (similar to an eagle), tiger, and snow lion. Encourage your child to draw one or all of these images or an image of his own on the cloth using fabric paint or markers.
  3. Help him think of a "prayer" to write on his flag. Tibetan flags typically carry blessings for long life, good fortune, compassion, strength, or wisdom. Encourage your child to think of a goodwill message he would like to spread to the world.
  4. Find two trees or outdoor pillars where air flows freely and hang the prayer flag between them with fishing line or string, pinning the string to the flag using safety pins. Tibetans believe that when the wind blows on a prayer flag, its message is caught and carried on the wind and spread to the rest of the world. Good luck, and good wishes!

Did You Know?

 

The Tibetan word for prayer flag is lung ta, meaning "wind horse".

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