These traditional prayer flags are made by Nepali Buddhists using cotton fabric usually block printed and cut into squares. The number of individual prayer flags on the cord varies, from 5 to 25 and they come in horizontally strung or vertical one piece flags to be attached to a pole or stick of bamboo. Traditionally prayer flags are strung along mountain ridges and peaks to bless the surrounding countryside or to send the messages of hope and peace written on the flags out on the wind over the whole world.
The colours of Tibetan prayer flags are significant because they symbolise each of the five elements. Blue for the ether or wind element, white symbolises air, red stands for fire, green symbolises water, and yellow the earth. These five colours also represent the five directions, North, South, East, West, and Centre. Additionally, the five flags represent the five wisdoms of compassion, harmony, wisdom of sight, kindness and perfect wisdom.
Prayer flags should be placed in a high part of the house or between flag poles or tied to trees. Ideally prayer flags are best exposed to the elements and seasons and allowed to whip in the wind. As they fade and fray they are a reminder of the impermanence of all things.
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