Friday, April 17, 2015


While virtually wandering Bhutan for the April 2015 Virtual Paintout I saw what looked like a lot of laundry fluttering in the breeze.  Buddhism is the major religion in Bhutan and prayer flags are used there to bless the surrounding countryside and for several other purposes.  These colorful pieces of cloth are strung from homes and monasteries, and I also saw countless prayer flags hung on the river bridges.

According to Wikipedia,  “...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 will be blown by the wind to spread good will and compassion into all-pervading space.”

 I found a large building I’m guessing was a monastery with rows of flags hung on lines and larger ones hung on vertical poles.

Some of them were faded but I brightened up the colors in my painting to match the traditional sets of five in the order of blue, white, red, green and yellow which represent the five elements.  Blue symbolizes the sky; white: air and wind; red: fire, green: water; and yellow symbolizes earth. According to their traditional medicine, health and harmony are produced through the balance of the five elements.

There was much more to learn about the prayer flags.  I just hope my painting is a reflection of respect for the traditions surrounding them.

The link to the Google Street View location used for my painting:

1 comment:

laurak/ForestWalkArt :) said...

your painting is awesome and definitely respectful of the prayer flags. beautiful!!!!

(i watched this documentary a while back on an expedition to the summit of Everest. the Sherpas (buddhist mountaineers) assisting with the ascent, carried the prayer flags...blessing the mountain all the way up & down)