The Tibetan flag, which is also known as the Snow Lion flag, is a powerful symbol of Tibetan national identity but is banned in Tibet under Chinese rule. More than six million people face brutal imprisonment for owning, waving or flying their national flag. It is censored from any media in China. Today, the flag is an enduring symbol of the Tibetan people’s struggle for freedom.
The design of the Tibetan flag represents all aspects of Tibet in its symbolism which includes the geographic features of the snowy land of Tibet, the religion, customs and traditions of Tibetan people and the political administration of the Tibetan government:
- In the centre stands a magnificent snow mountain, which represents the great nation of Tibet
- Across the dark blue sky there are six red bands which represent the original ancestors of the Tibetan people and the six tribes called Se, Mu, Dong, Tong, Dru and Ra
- At the tip of the snow mountain, the sun with its rays brilliantly shining in all directions represents the equal enjoyment of freedom, spiritual and material happiness and prosperity by all beings in the land of Tibet
- On the slopes of the mountain there stand a pair of snow lions which represent the country’s victorious accomplishment of a unified spiritual and secular life
- The three-sided yellow border represents the flourishing of the Buddha’s teachings and the side without a border represents Tibet’s openness to non-Buddhist thought
- The three coloured jewel held aloft represents the ever-present reverence respectfully held by the Tibetan people towards the Three Supreme Jewels (the Buddhist objects of refuge: Buddha, Dharma and Sangha)
- Finally, the two coloured swirling jewel held between the two lions represents the peoples’ guarding and cherishing the self-discipline of correct ethical behaviour.
The design of the Tibet Balloon faithfully follows the symbolism of the flag in a three-dimensional form. In fact the Tibet Balloon is actually two flags which means that the design can be seen from all angles. The images below show how the one-dimensional building plan transforms into a three-dimensional balloon.