I have recently discovered prayer flags and the ways quilters and fiber artists are making and using them to carry a message, oftentimes of hopes for peace and prayers of comfort.
The Prayer Flag Project was started by Vivika Hansen DeNegre when she invited people from around the world to join her in making prayer flags. According to the project notes: “Each flag is created in the artists own style, then hung outside for a while, its words and sentiment dissolving into the wind and being spread to all whom the wind touches. They are a living, breathing, kinetic journal of our hopes, dreams and concerns. You can read more about the Prayer Flag project at http://www.theprayerflagproject.blogspot.com and join, if you wish.
Prayer flags come from mainly a Buddhist tradition, and according to Wikipedia: “Traditionally, prayer flags are used to promote peace, compassion, strength, and wisdom. The flags do not carry prayers to gods, which is a common misconception; rather, the Tibetans believe the prayers and mantras will be blown by the wind to spread the good will and compassion into all pervading space. Therefore, prayer flags are thought to bring benefit to all.” The traditional colors for these flags are flown in order, with blue on the left for space, white for air, red for fire, green for water, and yellow for earth, symbolizing the five elements.
Prayer flags have been made, for example, at a very personal level, as comfort for a friend going through cancer treatment, or on a more public level in response to a tragedy such as in memory of the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing. Each prayer flag is unique and is a reflection of the intention of its maker.
You can make a prayer flag in whatever shape and form you wish. In the beginning, the first call for prayer flags being submitted for a specific cause had the following guidelines: Using materials of your choice, start with a 5″ x 11″ piece of fabric, turn down the top 3″ for a hanging sleeve. Choose a theme for your flag. Sign and date it. You can make a string of prayer flags for your house or garden, to give to a special person, or participate in a special prayer flag project and contribute your flag to be used in a larger flag exhibit.
A miniature flag project is recommended as a way for members of a group to celebrate special events or help provide support in sadder times, with each member making a string of five miniature flags with a special theme. The miniature flags can also be displayed in a picture frame.
I am excited about all the possibilities for making prayer flags, and hope to have my own first string of prayer flags hanging in my garden, before summer’s end.