Exploring the ecological impact of Himalayan prayer flags

March 7, 2024

At the end of  February, Yale Institute of Sacred Music hosted a group of scholars, practitioners, and artists whose work focuses on the ecological impact of Buddhist prayer flags in the Himalayan region.

In a panel discussion on the first day of their visit, Kalzang Dorjee Bhutia, Ang Dolma Sherpa, Pasang Yangejee Sherpa, and Amy Holmes-Tagchungdarpa, shared about their practical and scholarly work focused on recovering traditional practices of making biodegradable prayer flags. These days, flags are now overwhelmingly made of synthetic materials, which is creating significant plastic pollution, especially because prayer flags cannot be thrown away.

The four guest speakers also held two workshops in a print studio at the Yale School of Art (pictured below) where they taught participants to make their own prayer flags using a block printing method. Participants made at least five flags each—one for each of the five elements—that they were able to take them home at the end of the workshop. The events were sponsored by the ISM’s Religion, Ecology, and Expressive Culture Initiative

Photos: Ryan Darr