Bhutan Prayer Flags: Lung Ta & Darchor

Per legend, prayer flags originated when Buddha’s prayers were written on battle flags used during a conflict between deities. The earliest use of prayer flags can be dated back to 800 CE; they have been a part of Bhutanese tradition for centuries. The purpose of the flags is to bless the surroundings and promote peace, compassion, strength and wisdom. Prayer flags are hung outside homes and places of spiritual importance to carry their blessings to all, as the wind passes through them, spreading mantras (sacred chants) through the air.


Bhutan’s prayer flags are rectangular cloths imprinted with sacred Buddhist mantras. Prayer flags are hoisted high because Buddhists believe that the wind carries the printed mantras into the world and sends blessing throughout the land. There are two types of prayer flags:

(1) “Lung Ta” is the horizontal five-colored prayer flag commonly seen strung across monasteries and mountain passes. They are also called “Wind Horse” because the wind will blow the prayers in all directions at the speed of a horse.

(2) “Darchor” is the vertical prayer flag made of a large, banner-shaped cloth attached to a pole. “Dar” means “to increase life, fortune, health and wealth” and “Chor” translates to “all sentient beings,” and thus is commonly planted in the ground or raised on rooftops to spread its meaning.


It is common belief that prayer flags embody the Ku (speech), Sung (body) and Thu (mind) of holy beings and carry strong spiritual powers. Generally, the colors used are yellow, red, blue, green and white, symbolizing the elements of the planet. These colorful and meaningful flags can be spotted all over Bhutan, a clear signal of the abundant Buddhist faith in the country.