Tibetan Prayer Flags (17 Amazing Facts)

Tibet is a land of customs and traditions.

In its sky hangs a deep air of spirituality which never fails to delight tourists who discover the country for the first time.

This country, the roof of the world, is known for its special rituals, its unique belief system and its original religious accessories.

When we think of Tibet, things like snow-capped mountain peaks, monasteries… and of course the famous Buddhist prayer flags come to mind.

These flags, in fact, are not simple decorations. The inhabitants of the Himalayas hang them with very specific intentions in mind, spiritual, energetic, even downright magical intentions.

Contents :


1. The prayer flag: a Tibetan cultural marker

2. Lung-ta vs Dar Cho, square vs rectangular

3. Buddhist flags: 5 colors, for 5 senses

4. Description of these five colors

5. Other Theories About Buddhist Prayer Flags

6. The most common religious symbols to decorate this Tibetan lucky charm

7. The power of mantras in Buddhism and Tibet

8. A lucky charm that has become global

9. A legend from Buddhism specific to Tibet

10. Origin of the Tibetan prayer flag

11. Bön and shamanism

12. An unexpected messenger

13. The power of intention when hanging…

14.. ..and dropping out!

15. A very codified calendar in Tibet!

16. Saga Dawa: an essential festival of Tibetan Buddhism

17. Tibetan prayer flags: a global phenomenon


A Tibetan flag, a prayer wheel and a phurba used for Buddhist ceremonies and rituals

Knowledge and spirituality of Tibet

thanks to the esoteric tools of the Himalayas



Tibet is one of the most mysterious regions in the world. We have also dedicated an entire collection to Tibetan lucky charms.

Tibetan flags are traditionally hung high to catch the wind.

Thus, the powerful words written there can be spread by the gusts, and carried to the ears of all living beings in the surrounding area.

Here are some examples of sentences that can be written on this Tibetan lucky charm:

“Let the rain fall at the right time.

May crops and livestock be plentiful.

Let there be no disease, famine and war.

May all beings be well and happy."

After much research on Tibetan Buddhism, and its famous prayer flags, we have made some discoveries which we will now present to you.

Tibetan Buddhism lucky flags in front of the Himalayan mountains

1) The prayer flag: a Tibetan cultural marker

Tibetan flags are squares of colored fabric hung outdoors.

They are used to promote values ​​like compassion, peace, strength and wisdom, but also to carry prayers and mantras through the wind.

We can usually see it on mountain peaks and around shrines linked to Tibetan Buddhism.

If we find them in such special places, it is because the Tibetans believe (and we do too!) that these Buddhist flags have the power to bless the surroundings of the place where they are located.

The flags are actually used in groups, and attached to a wooden pole ranging from 1 to 20 meters high.

These, once planted in the ground, will allow you to locate Buddhist temples, or other sites worth the detour.

We can often see them here and there while hiking in Tibet

It may therefore be wise for a tourist to use this type of Tibetan lucky charm to help them find their way during their walks and hikes.

Since Buddhist flags have sacred mantras and respected symbols on them, they are considered equally sacred and are treated with the utmost respect.

The Tibetans are continually adding new flags alongside the old ones. This symbolizes how new lives take precedence over old ones.

Tibetan flags, according to Buddhism, are also believed to be able to guide souls towards the path of Nirvana.

We are therefore dealing with a lucky charm with multiple interests.

Rectangular flags in front of branches

2) Lung-ta vs Dar Cho, square vs rectangular

There are two different types of Tibetan flags : the Lung-ta, which means "wind horse", and the Dar Cho which could be translated as "fortune for all living beings".

The Lung Ta flags are horizontal while those of Dar Chog are vertical.

The former are mainly hoisted atop monasteries, temples and stupas while the latter generally adorn mountains and hillocks.

Although square-shaped, horizontally strung flags are arguably the most common, they are not the only type of Tibetan lucky flag you will see used at sacred sites.

For example, there are certain types whose shape is much more elongated.

Here you can see what these rectangular prayer flags look like.

Five color flags in front of a beautiful blue sky

3) Buddhist flags: 5 colors, for 5 senses

Tibetan flags are beautiful and can decorate a garden in a very spiritual way, but their colors aren't just there for show.

Tibetans are very particular about the color and order of placing Buddhist flags.

As is often the case, randomness and chance have no place here. The technique is rigid when it comes to putting the prayer flags in the correct order.

Each of the colors has a special meaning and the order itself alludes to a particular belief from Tibetan Buddhism.

Tibetan flags traditionally form a set of five, one for each of the five colors.

We find in order (from left to right): blue, white, red, green and yellow.

Multitudes of small Tibetan prayer flags on several lines

4) Description of these five colors

According to the most common explanation, each hue represents an element, so that they form a coherent whole when together.

Here is an explanation for each of them:

  • Blue represents the sky. It symbolizes the immensity of space. It is said that this color has the ability to calm disturbed souls, help them meditate and thus welcome wisdom within them. This color therefore represents the purity of Buddhism, and reminds us of the benefits that meditation can have.
  • White represents symbolizes the wind element. In Tibetan tradition, it is the color of knowledge. It therefore has the power to ward off all curses arising from ignorance, while illuminating our existence with the light of knowledge.
  • Red is associated with fire. It brings together the life force that drives us to fight for ourselves and our loved ones. These are very important values ​​in Tibet.
  • Green represents the water element. This color is there for fraternity, peace and harmony of the heart.
  • Yellow is associated with Earth. It symbolizes renunciation. One of the keys to understanding that comes from enlightenment is that everything on Earth is equal, regardless of apparent differences.

Health and happiness result from the state of harmony that arises from the union of these five elements.

This is perhaps why life is so good in Tibet.

Note also that, according to the original Buddhist tradition, flags must be hung horizontally in groups of five.

Tibetan Buddhist stupa with prayer flags hanging on it

5) Other theories about Buddhist prayer flags

Some less widespread Buddhist traditions claim that the five colors represent five elemental spirits of nature. Others speak of “five pure lights”.

The colors on Tibetan flags may also represent the five dhyani Buddhas (or meditation Buddhas): Akshobhya Buddha, Vairocana Buddha, Amitabha Buddha, Amoghasiddhi, and Ratnasambhava Buddha.

This set of five colors, also known as " Pancha Varna " can influence the way our meditations take place.

Focusing on a particular color is actually a widespread practice in Tibetan Buddhism.

Raven on a rock next to Buddhist prayer flags, a Tibetan good luck charm

6) The most common religious symbols to decorate this Tibetan lucky charm

Tibetan Buddhist flags are often blessed with prayers, sacred mantras, and other Tibetan good luck charms.

One of these main symbols is the figure of the Lung Ta : a powerful wind horse carrying three flaming jewels (called "jewels of enlightenment") on its back.

This sacred horse symbolizes speed and luck.

Tibetans believe that, depending on whether the Lung Ta is placed right side up or upside down, its effect will be marked with a few different nuances.

Traditionally, Buddhism encourages the use of this type of symbol on flags to bless the lives of people throughout Tibet.

To accompany the Lung Ta, the four corners of the flag are often decorated with the " Four Dignitaries ": the sky dragon, Garuda, snow lion and tiger.

The “ Tashi Targye ” is a group of eight figures that is often drawn on Tibetan prayer flags.

These symbols include the parasol, vase, conch shell, golden fish, lotus, victory banner, endless knot and dharma wheel.

All of these symbols have distinct connotations and meanings, and deserve an article of their own. (Besides, don’t hesitate to tell us if this tells you that we are interested!)

Close-ups of mantras written on a white Tibetan prayer flag

7) The power of mantras in Buddhism and Tibet

This type of Tibetan lucky charm is always decorated with sacred mantras, which are then inscribed on them.

We can highlight the mantras of Padmasambhava, Avalokiteshvara and Manjushri which are often each inscribed several times on these flags.

Tibetan flags often carry the following anthem: “ Om mani padma hum ”. (Om = holy, mani = jewel, padma = lotus, hum = enlightenment)

Together, these words are not intended to form a particular logic, but rather to combine the powers associated with them in order to cleanse man of his vices and errors by giving him perseverance, intelligence, wisdom, compassion and renunciation to the ephemeral.

Thanks to the wind then, these mantras will be blown into every corner of the world, thus spreading spirituality and goodwill absolutely wherever it goes.

Landscape seen from the top of a mountain and showing the whole world, with prayer flags in the foreground

8) A lucky charm that has become global

All over the world, but especially in Asia, we can find Buddhist flags in ridges, mountain passes, between trees, rocks, on top of monasteries, stupas and temples…

This Tibetan lucky charm has been exported and conquered the hearts of millions of people, going well beyond the borders of Nepal or Bhutan.

A bit like the singing bowl, the region's incense or the tantric tradition of the mandala: prayer flags have an intrinsic power which makes them necessarily appreciable.

Asian cities like Beijing and Shanghai place them to decorate their main squares (alongside other decorative garlands, it is true)... but so does the West!

Tibetan Buddhist temple on which thousands of flags hang

9) A legend from Buddhism specific to Tibet

According to a Buddhist myth, the first prayer flags were used by Siddharta Gautama, the Boddhistava/Buddha himself, to inscribe the teachings on which his religion is based.

Devas, a type of non-human god-like entity, are said to carry such flags to draw upon the power of Buddhist precepts in their battle against asuras, a type of demonic demigod.

The Green Tara, the White Tara, the thousand Buddhas or the Tathagata are all mythological figures associated with them. And it is not uncommon for an augury or healing session to involve them.

In short, our flags are deeply inscribed in Tibetan folklore.

(In Buddhism as in Hinduism, there are thousands of different types of gods and deities )

Prayer flags hung on a war fork and used as standards

10) Origin of the Tibetan prayer flag

Prayer flags actually predate Buddhism in Tibet.

Although flags are most often associated with this country, it was, in all likelihood, India where their powers were discovered.

The inhabitants of the Himalayas were therefore in contact with these flags for centuries before integrating them into their culture.

Historians estimate that it was in the 11th century CE that the use of this Tibetan lucky charm began to really spread in the region.

They were in fact initially used more as standards, and were hung on the banners carried by the warlords of the Himalayan region.

Originally they were hand painted one by one. They therefore had to be ordered well in advance and their high prices reserved them for the richest men.

They gradually lost their warrior sense to symbolize (and therefore encourage) values ​​such as peace, strength, compassion and wisdom.

Today, Tibetan flags are decorated with prayers, mantras and Buddhist symbols using a woodblock printing method, making it easier to manufacture and therefore obtain.

Shamanist altar made of small piles of stones used to honor the spirits of Bön.

11) Bön and shamanism

Bön is the traditional shamanic religion formerly practiced in Tibet, and more precisely throughout the Qinghai region.

Based on animist and shamanistic beliefs, this spirituality encompassed magical practices, rituals close to witchcraft and songs comparable to the recitation of mantras.

If we talk to you about Bön, it is for a simple reason: practitioners of this religion already used prayer flags.

According to specialists, their purpose was to honor the deities and spirits of nature and, more precisely, to keep the elements of the universe in balance.

It was only later, when Buddhism arrived in Tibet, that the flags were covered with religious symbols, sacred prayers, etc.

When we think about it, it actually helps us understand what Tibetan Buddhism is: a learned synthesis of primitive shamanic beliefs and the dharmic and karmic principles of Indian Buddhism.

Prayer flags waved in the wind in front of the mountains of Tibet

12) An unexpected messenger

Many Tibetans believe that Buddhist flags raised by a pure-hearted person will carry their message directly to the deities.

The flag would somehow sing a prayer deeply marked by the ideals of happiness, longevity and peace... directly to the ears of the universe.

This is a common idea in Tibet, but it is nevertheless false: the mantras printed on the flags are instead carried by the wind, which is then supposed to spread benevolent intentions and positive energy wherever it goes.

It is therefore not the gods themselves who carry the mantras written on Buddhist flags.

It is interesting to note that when Tibetan prayer flags are torn by the wind and fade into the world, this is considered a good omen, and a sign of the effectiveness of the ritual.

The prayers are then transported throughout the world, well beyond the Tibetan community.

Buddhist flags with winter frost on them

13) The power of intention when hanging…

As Tibetan flags are sacred, they should not be used for purposes other than spiritual ones.

They should never be kept on the ground, and your feet should never touch them.

In Tibet, the state of mind when hanging the flags on the poles is very important. This requires some awakening for the blessing to work.

It is not necessarily necessary to follow the precepts of Buddhism to hang Tibetan flags, but be aware that there is a very codified way to put them up.

While hanging your Tibetan flags where you have chosen they would be most at home, it is important to keep motivational and altruistic ideas in mind.

This will keep you in line with the flags' primary purpose, which is to spread positivity on a larger scale.

For example, if when hanging his Buddhist flags, the individual thinks deep in his soul: "May all beings, everywhere in the world, receive these benefits and find happiness", the virtue associated with such motivation will greatly increase the power of prayers.

Large number of Tibetan flags lying on a table

14) …and dropping out!

The same goes for their destruction. As Buddhist flags are torn apart by the wind, they become a part of the universe.

In each monastery, old flags are replaced with new ones on the Tibetan New Year.

Due to the absolutely sacred nature of the inscriptions found on Buddhist flags, they should neither be used in clothing nor thrown into the trash.

If they really have to be removed for one reason or another, the old Tibetan flags will have to be burned according to a very specific ritual of Tibetan Buddhism supposed to carry prayers to the sky.

Tibetans believe that burning old Buddhist prayer flags will, through the smoke, bring blessings to the rest of the world one last time.

In the same way as for hanging, old flags must therefore be replaced with unfailing respect.

Rope of prayer flags in winter and covered in snow, in front of a snowy Himalayan valley

15) A very codified calendar in Tibet!

As is often the case in Tibetan Buddhism, the rituals linked to prayer flags are highly codified.

Based on the Tibetan calendar, we can say that certain days are auspicious (and therefore others are bad) for hanging Buddhist flags.

According to legend, if you hang them at the wrong time, you will receive not the blessings that come with your flags, but the exact opposite, or even more disastrous results.

Thus, Tibetans generally hoist Buddhist flags in the early morning. It must also be a day when the sun is warm and shining over the Tibetan mountains.

Here is a list of bad dates according to the Tibetan calendar:

  • 10th and 22nd of the first, fifth and ninth months
  • 7th and 19th of the second, sixth and tenth months
  • 4th and 16th of the third, seventh and eleventh months
  • 1st and 13th of the fourth, eighth and twelfth months

Monday, in general, is a good day to hang Tibetan flags and Friday is downright excellent.

Additionally, prayer flags are hoisted taking into account wind speed. It's generally a good idea to place your flags on windy days so that the mantras written on them have a chance to travel the world from the start.

These conditions are therefore necessary for this jewel of purity to shine, for its blessings to help us escape samsara (the infernal circle of reincarnations) and to grant our wishes.

Thousands of prayer flags from the Saga Dawa festival

16) Saga Dawa: an essential festival of Tibetan Buddhism

The festival named “ Saga Dawa ” takes place every year in Tibet.

Undoubtedly the most important religious gathering in the country, it is of course linked to Buddhism.

This event takes place to commemorate the moment when Sakyamuni (a nickname for the Buddha) achieved enlightenment, and is generally observed by visiting temples, lighting lanterns, and practicing sharing and generosity.

One of the most important events in the Dawa Saga is the replacement of the Tarboche Flagpole, a pole covered with Tibetan flags that stands on the sacred mountain of Kailash (also called "Gang Rinpoche" in the Tibetan language.

Other cities in the country are obviously seeing festivities take place. Lhasa, Shigatse and Chamdo in particular see major celebrations taking place.

In short, it is the first day of the Tibetan lunisolar calendar that this festival is celebrated. On this day therefore, the old Tibetan flags are dismantled and, as previously indicated, they are burned as part of a very codified ceremony.

If these celebrations are so important for Tibetans, it is undoubtedly because the People's Republic of China's repression against them has only recently eased, leaving this autonomous region only recently to celebrate its religious festivals.

Some Buddhist flags under the blue sky of the world

17) Tibetan prayer flags: a global phenomenon

All the rituals revolving around Buddhist flags show the spirituality of the people of Tibet, which are largely based on a belief system that has been unchanging for centuries.

What seems to us to be just common flags turn out to be almost miraculous tools for others. Our karma is a precious spiritual asset, and each mantra written on these pieces of fabric is there to improve it.

The Tibetan people believed in their power so strongly that it impressed the rest of the world. Seeing monks pray for hours over them convinced us of the power of the sacred formulas inscribed. The Dalai Lama (like his branch of Buddhism, Lamaism) also contributed greatly to sharing prayer flags with the world.

Therefore, it often happens that even non-believers end up being convinced of the effectiveness of Buddhist flags.

Tibetan flags hung in the Himalayan highlands


Tibetans consider receiving prayer flags as gifts a good sign.

For them it is a bit as if a divinity had sent them blessings in the form of flags.

If hope and belief are the main forces on this Earth, then prayer flags hold within them the hope and aspirations of an entire people.

It is therefore a leading Tibetan lucky charm.

The people of the Himalayas know that whatever the problem, a flag fluttering in the wind will save them from all dangers.

Therefore, whenever you travel to Tibet, do not hesitate to provide yourself with Buddhist flags so that you too can benefit from their powers.

If you don't have the opportunity to visit this wonderful country, don't worry: we offer you original Tibetan prayer flags.

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Lucky charm featured in this article

Rectangular Tibetan Prayer Flags

Rectangular Tibetan Prayer Flags

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author picture(Cyril Gendarme)

Discover the author: Cyril Gendarme

Cyril Gendarme is a writer whose website "The Lucky Door" ("La Porte Du Bonheur" in French, his native language) has become a reference in the field of esotericism. Born in Belgium, Cyril has been attracted to the mysteries of the world since he was a child. When his interest in occultism was awakened, a particular subject caught his attention: lucky charms.

After years of study and in-depth research on esoteric traditions from around the world, Cyril decided to share his knowledge with the public through the internet. In 2019, he launched "The Lucky Door," a website dedicated to exploring lucky charms, magical symbols, and esoteric arts.

The Lucky Door is much more than just a showcase for those curious about magic, divination, or tradition. It is the result of Cyril's passion for researching and understanding the mysteries of the universe. Every piece of information available on the site testifies to his dedication to sharing his knowledge of the most hidden symbols and their unique powers.

In addition to his online work, Cyril regularly organizes workshops and conferences in different countries. His presence on social media is also highly appreciated, where he offers personalized advice and happily answers questions from his community.