The Least Harmful Prayer Flags
Buddhist prayer flags originated in India 2500 years ago. They spread prayers through the wind.
Many prayer flags are still hung in Tibet.
Since the Chinese invasion, many Tibetan refugees spread around the world and with them Buddhism and the ditto prayer flags.
Prayer flags were originally made in Tibet with 100% natural materials.
With the advent of synthetic fabrics, paints and inks, natural materials are no longer used for the prayer flags, resulting in the continuous spread of harmful microplastics and chemicals. This causes unnecessary suffering; something that contradicts the Buddhist attitude to harm as little as possible in the broadest sense of the word. Questions such as 'Where does it come from?' and 'Where does it end up?' are essential. Also for prayer flags.
This motivation prompted us, in August 2020, to look for the possibility of making prayer flags completely natural and as sustainable as possible. Two years, five hundred and eighteen emails and four prayer services to remove obstacles later, the first flags were made.
The fabric for out prayer flags are made from certified organic cotton grown and woven in Turkey.
They are hand dyed with plant extracts at Tinctoria in Amsterdam. The plants that are used for the dye are grown in the Netherlands and France. We strive to only work with certified organic plant extracts. Currently only the blue prayer flags are dyed with organically grown polygonum.
The substance was brought to Belgium by train.
In Drongen, the fabric is laser-cut at Ingegno Maker Space with the support of their projects Spark & Buurtmakers .
The fabric is then stamped by hand in Watervliet.
The all-natural stamping ink is based on a medieval recipe.
The rubber stamps were made by Ingegno Maker Space.
The print depicts a 2500-year-old Buddhist Kalachakra mantra.
The mantra encompasses all the teachings of Buddha.
The colors symbolize the five elements:
blue: water element;
white: space element;
red: fire element;
green: wind element;
yellow: earth element.
(more details will follow later)
This is expressed very briefly, because the substantive meaning is very complex.
The emblem was drawn 500 years ago by the Buddhist scholar Jetsun Taranatha in Tibet.
Jo De Baerdemaeker, typeface designer and researcher (Studio Type) from Antwerp, has voluntarily taken on the graphic aspect. The Tibetan font 'Lungta' is a design by Jo De Baerdenmaker. 'Lungta' is the Tibetan word for prayer flags. Literally it means 'wind horse'.
Finally, the prayer flags are stitched with the sewing machine of my late grandmother, on a ribbon in Watervliet.
The ribbon to which the flags are stitched/attached is certified organic, neither dyed nor bleached. The yarn is certified organic and not dyed.
Then the prayer flags are blessed.
When the prayer flags are due for renewal, it is recommended to remove the blessings before composting them.
The hangtags are made of FSC® recycled paper and shipped in recycled paper envelopes.
We deliberately chose not to opt for GOTS certification because it allows the use of synthetic dyes.
Residual material remains after laser cutting. Small flags will be made of this for bicycles.
These all-natural prayer flags are a world first!
Our customer potential is spread all over the world.
I hope natural prayer flags will replace all synthetic prayer flags in the future.
Many thanks for the much appreciated help to:
Tulku Choekyi Nangpa
Khen SherabLa, the Jonang Monastery in Dharamsala, the Jonang Monastery in Shimla, Annik, Benny, Chimed, Cristina, David, Eric, Eva, Farrah, Geet, Jasmine, Jo, Karel, Ken, Kristof, Leentje, Lennert, Mama, Nic, Ninon , Ruthild, Taisha and Thupten