Wind-Horse Flag

Updated: 2007-07-24 08:38

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When a traveler sees flags of various colors, shapes and designs blowing in the wind on high mountain passes and roof-tops or above rapids in mountain streams, bridges and monasteries, they know they are somewhere near a Tibetan. The Prayer Flag, or Wind-Horse Flag, can be seen hanging throughout the Tibetan Plateau and indeed, anywhere Tibetans live, such as Sichuan, Qinghai, Gansu and Yunnan provinces as well as in countries neighboring Tibet: Nepal, Sikkim and Bhutan.

These flags, "Lung Ta" in Tibetan, are called "prayer flags" or "wind-horse flags," a literal translation of "Lung Ta": "Lung" meaning wind and "Tu" referring to horse in Tibetan.

Wind horse of the early stages referred to fleeces hung on the trees or brushwood. Nowadays, the skeleton heads of flocks and herds can still be found among the Mani piles. In the mind of the Tibetans, wind horse refers to mankind's destiny and fortune, and in some special cases it points to the five elements (metal, wood, water, fire, and earth. held by the ancients to compose the entire physical universe, and later used in traditional Chinese medicine to explain various physiological phenomena). If a wind-horse flag is placed at the convergence of nimbus, the symbols on it will create an offering or prayer, which the wind distributes to the world every time it brushes against the flag. This is believed to be useful for the realization of a person's dreams.

Just like any other art form in Tibet, the creation and distribution of prayer flags is promoted by its religious motif, and at the same time, acts as a medium for religious followers to communicate with the world of spirituality and divinity.