Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Prayer Flags

photo by broken sphere

I've been fascinated by prayer flags from the moment I first learned of them. Typically associated with Tibet,  these flags are hung outside and carry prayers - for protection, health, good fortune, compassion.  Each flag is printed with a combination of text and symbols. The text may be a mantra, a sutra (excerpt from a sacred Buddhist text) or a prayer.

photo by babasteve 

photo by markus koljonen

The aspect that really intriques me is the idea that as the flag becomes weathered, small pieces of the flag are carried off by the wind, spreading the prayers throughout the world. The prayers are also thought to purify and cleanse the air that blows through them. People often hang multiple flags and it is common to see both new and old flags hanging side by side. What a wonderful representation of the cycles of life, young and old side by side.  An acceptance of the natural life cycle, that as something dies and decomposes, it is providing benefit and sustenance for another being.

I have created several prayer flags this year.  My interpretation is quite different from the traditional version. The first had no text, only symbols I created to represent my prayers for the world.  The second set has no symbols, only text.  They both carry prayers for peace, joy, love, compassion and health.

This flag was made from hand-dyed linen that was then brayer printed.  A small bit of metal leaf was added to each piece.

These flags are made from silk/cotton voile.  I used the technique from Vibrant Color, I added powdered dyes to soy wax and applied that to the fabric, then handpainted over it. The prayers are screened in metal leaf.


  1. How beautiful, Lisa! Are you going to hang them outside??

  2. Yes, definitely! I want to share those blessings.

  3. I love the flags. Gorgeous work as always.

  4. I hand dyed old bedsheets and tablecloths a couple of Christmas' ago for a gift to my wife. I boiled the cloth in big stock cooking pots. Unfortunately after about a year the color had all washed out in the Michigan winters.

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