Tibetan culture: The national flag of Tibet

Did you know?

The Tibetan flag is one of the most contentious and dangerous images in occupied Tibet. Adopted by the 13th Dalai Lama in 1916, the flag was used in Tibet until 1959. It is now an emblem of unity and protest for Tibetans around the world.

Discover the iconography that makes up this important symbol …

Open golden border: the spread of the “golden ideals of Buddhism” unbounded by space and time

12 rays: the six red rays on the dark blue sky symbolise the six ancestors of the Tibetan people from whom the 12 descendants were born. The two colours also refer to the two guardian deities who protect the flag and Tibet.

Central white triangle: a snow covered mountain, alluding to Tibet’s location in the Himalayas

Two snow lions: the harmony between Tibet’s secular and spiritual life

Sun: symbol of freedom, happiness and prosperity. The 12 rays again refer to the 12 descendants of the six aboriginal Tibetan tribes.

Three coloured flaming jewel held above the snow lions: Buddha (God), Dharma (the Doctrine), and Sangha (the saints – guardians of the doctrine)

Swirling jewel held between the snow lions: the Tibetan people’s commitment to ethical Buddhist behaviour

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