Monday, October 26, 2009

Tibetan Prayer Flags

Internal peace is a central theme in Tibetan art, where a main focus of the Tibetan Buddhist religion is to strive for peace with the universe (nirvana), free of anger and other afflictive states. Prayer flags are one form of Tibetan art that focus issues of peace. Prayer flags -- special flags that are block printed by Buddhist Masters with matras, prayers, and good luck symbols and words -- have been made in Tibet for thousands of years. They are planted to bring happiness and peace to those around. The flags are hung outside where they can blow in the wind. It is said that the wind carries the prayers out over the countryside and brings goodwill to everyone around. Prayer flags always come in groups of five, in colors symbolizing the five elements: yellow = earth; green = water; red = fire; white = air; and blue = space.

Global Explorers Kids has adapted the idea of Tibetan prayer flags, helping children to create "Flags of Peace." The children design images of peace for the world, then block print them on cloth flags. The children at Waters Elementary School printed their flags, then hung them in the school garden during a simple ceremony where they shared their thoughts on peace, then sampled some Asian snacks. The photo above shows some of their flags hanging in the garden.

Sand mandalas are another form of Tibetan art that focuses on internal peace. Mandala means circle, polygon, community, or connection in Sanskrit, the ancient language of India. Mandalas are special symmetric circles with geometric designs that represent the universe. They are used by Tibetan Buddhists as an aid to meditation. Mandalas made from sand are unique to Tibetan Buddhism. They are said to have positive healing energies, which extend to the whole world. After a sand mandala is completed, it is swept up and dispersed into flowing water – to symbolize the impermanence of life and further spread its healing energies. Students can explorer the idea of the mandala by creating geometric patterns within a circle, or try their hand at creating patterns with sand.

Tibetan Resources

Tibetan Vocabulary
Hello tashi delek goodbye kaley shu peace zhi bde

Online activities and resources
Video slideshow of Tibetan Prayer Flags
Online interactive Mandala
Video – Global Grover in Tibet
Greatest Places: Tibet
Video slide show of Tibet
Video of creation of a sand mandala
Video of Tibetan monks chanting over sand mandala
Tibetan folktales

The Mountains of Tibet, by Mordicai Gerstein
Favorite Children's Stories from China & Tibet, by Lotta Carswell Hume and Koon-Chiu Lo
Where is Tibet? by Gina Halpern
All The Way to Lhasa: A Tale from Tibet, by Barbara Helen Berger
Tibetan Tales for Little Buddhas, by Naomi C. Rose
The Boy Who Had a Dream: A Nomadic Folk Tale from Tibet, by Ringu Tulku Rinpoche and Pankaj Thapa
The Three Silver Coins: A Story from Tibet, by Veronica Leo, Tashi Daknewa
Tibet: The Land; Tibet: The People; Tibet: The Culture, three books by Bobbie Kalman

Eternal Journey: Authentic Music from Tibet, Various Artists
Tibet Tibet, Yungchen Lhamo
Voice of Tibet, Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche
Tibetan Sacred Temple Music, Eight Lamas from Drepung

Around Town
Tibet Center Chicago, 6073 N. Paulina, Chicago, IL 60660, sometimes hosts special events.

No comments: