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Day 6 of 30 Days of Create With Gina: Design a Prayer Flag

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Art Therapy Life Coach, Artist, Photographer, Designer—Gina believes that the purpose of the arts is to enrich and heal lives.

Prayer Flags from Paper

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What is a Flag?

Before I dive into what a Prayer Flag is, and how to make one, I first felt that I needed to understand what a flag is.

So what is a flag?

According to Wikipedia, a flag is a piece of cloth or similar material, typically oblong or square, attachable by one edge to a pole or rope and used as the symbol or emblem of a country or institution or as a decoration during public festivities.

From the skull and bones at the top of a pirate ship to a white flag on a battlefield, a single piece of fabric can be interpreted in a multitude of ways. Depending on where they fly, flags can represent freedom or control, danger or safety.

In the context of modern times, flags are best known as national symbols — and they’re used to air a country’s past, present, and future vision all rolled into one.

The Flag of the United States of America

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A Short History Behind the Flag of the United States of America

Between 1777 and 1960 Congress passed several acts that changed the shape, design and arrangement of the flag and allowed stars and stripes to be added to reflect the admission of each new state.

Today the flag consists of:

  • 13 horizontal stripes, seven red alternating with six white. The stripes represent the original 13 Colonies
  • 50 stars representing the 50 states of the Union.

The colors of the flag are symbolic as well:

  • red symbolizes hardiness and valor
  • white symbolizes purity and innocence
  • blue represents vigilance, perseverance and justice.

Have You Ever Made One?

No? What are you waiting for? Here is your opportunity to make a simple one.

I have always been intrigued by flags. I love to know the meaning behind the colors on a flag and the history behind the design of a flag,

Prayer flags are a wonderful way to share your dreams, inspirations, and even your concerns.. Whether you love to quilt, love to embroider, or love to experiment with surface design techniques, you’re sure to enjoy making prayer flags.

Nautical Flags and Their Meanings

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You Can Put Your Own Spin on the Design of the Prayer Flag.

Prayer flags have been around for thousands of years, but today’s fiber artists are putting their own spin on the ancient tradition. A growing number of artists are using these small but meaningful flags as an outlet for expressing their hopes, dreams, and concerns—and the design possibilities are endless.

The Definition of a Prayer Flag.

The definition of a prayer flag, in this context is:

  • a piece of cloth approximately 5″ × 8″
  • decorated with an image(s) and/or text that has special meaning to the maker.

Making and hanging the flags is a way of speaking an intention out loud and expressing it visually, tangibly—a way to keep the important things in life within view. The flags hang outside for a period of time, and I love how they fade, and get frayed and tattered as they are affected by the wind, sun and rain.

Tibetan Prayer Flags Are Said to Carry Love and Compassion.

There's a special meaning behind the colors of the Tibetan Prayer Flags.

There's a special meaning behind the colors of the Tibetan Prayer Flags.

Meanings and Symbolisms of the Prayer Flag.

1. Each color of the flag symbolizes an element.

  • White symbolizes air
  • Red is fire.
  • Green is water.
  • Yellow is earth.
  • Blue is wind.

They also represent directions – North, South, East, West and Center.

2. ‘Om Mani Padme Hum’ has a very deep meaning.

  • Om- The sacred syllable
  • Mani- Jewel
  • Padme – Lotus
  • Hum – Spirit of enlightenment

This mantra is a combination of values like compassion, ethics, patience, diligence, renunciation and wisdom. It is said that if you recite the mantra during meditation, it can cure pride, jealousy, ignorance, greed and aggression.

3. Buddhist prayer flags should never be still.

The reason why they are put high above the roof is so that they flutter in the wind. It is said that they emit positive spiritual vibrations and that the prayers are carried by the wind like silent prayers.

4. Getting prayer flags as a gift from someone and not buying them is how you should acquire a prayer flag.

5. There are two kinds of flags – horizontal and vertical.

The horizontal ones are called Lung Dar and the vertical ones are Dar Cho.

6. It is considered disrespectful if the Buddhist prayer flags touch the ground.

7. Color fading from the flags is considered a good thing because it means that the prayers were carried by the breeze.

8. The best time to put up a prayer flag is during the Chinese New Year.


You're Only As Limited As Your Imagination.

When it comes to prayer flags you’re only as limited as your imagination. They can be made in the time you have, whether it’s less than an hour, several weeks, or even months, with items you have on hand. Even though you can buy premade prayer flags, you can make your own in any shape or size you wish;

Do a Quick Sketch of What You Want Your Prayer Flag to Look Like.

I made my prayer flag from paper, but most prayer flags are made from fabric and hung in the wind.

I made my prayer flag from paper, but most prayer flags are made from fabric and hung in the wind.

To Make the Paper Prayer Flag, Fold a Sheet of Paper as Seen in the Image.

Fold in half.  Then fold in half again.  Then fold in half, again.

Fold in half. Then fold in half again. Then fold in half, again.

Cut the sheet of paper into 8 equal parts. There are only six shown here, but you should have 8.

Cut the sheet of paper into 8 equal parts. There are only six shown here, but you should have 8.

Fold about a 1/4" over the back of each piece of paper.  This will  enable it to hold onto the cord or wire that you will attach the papers to.

Fold about a 1/4" over the back of each piece of paper. This will enable it to hold onto the cord or wire that you will attach the papers to.

My Completed Paper Prayer Flag

I used a piece of ribbon.  Simply staple the  pieces of the prayer flag over the ribbon.  You can also glue them down.  Mine hangs on the wall, as that is why I designed it.  You will find info below for making one from fabric.

I used a piece of ribbon. Simply staple the pieces of the prayer flag over the ribbon. You can also glue them down. Mine hangs on the wall, as that is why I designed it. You will find info below for making one from fabric.

You Can Add Temporary Tattoos.

Seed of life temporary tattoo

Seed of life temporary tattoo

This One Was Painted.

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Tissue Paper is a Great Tool to Work With.

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Choose the Words or Prayers That You Want to Send Out.

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How to Make a Fabric Prayer Flag.

1. Cut pieces of fabric to 5″ × 11″. Use materials you already have on hand.

2. Create a 3” hanging sleeve by folding one short end over (to either the back or front) and press, making a rectangle 5″ x 8″. Sew the sleeve down by machine or by hand, 1/4″ from the short raw edge.

3. Chose a theme for your prayer, and embellish your flag with painting, stitch, embroidery, buttons, etc.

4. Add words, journaling, or symbols as desired, using free motion stitching, hand stitching, or simply by writing in a permanent marker. Don’t forget to sign and date your flag.

5. Thread the flags onto a string or cord and hang them outdoors so the breeze will catch them and spread your intentions.

Make a flag every day, once a month, or just when the spirit moves you.

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Watch the Video For More Inspiration and Details.

Are Prayer Flags Just For Buddhists?

I couldn't end this article without addressing something which I know will most likely come up.

Prayer flags and Christians?

There are many Christians, myself included, who make prayer flags. We may prefer to call them worship flags, praise flags or prayer banners, terms which immediately make the flags acceptable to any church gathering. Mine hangs on the wall, but I have made fabric ones designed for hanging in the wind, like the Tibetan ones.

I see this as being a very beneficial prayer tool for Christians.

I would love to hear your thoughts on the topic, so please join the conversation and add them to the comment section

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Gina Welds

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