The Tibetan National Flag

[Tibetan Flag]


"The Tibetan national flag is intimately connected with the authentic history and royal lineages of Tibet which are thousands of years old. Furthermore, in the Tibetan Royal year 820 or in the seventh century of the Christian era, at the time of the Tibetan religious King Song-tzan Gampo the Great extensive land of Tibet was divided into large and small districts known as "gö-kyi tong-de" and "yung-g'i mi-de". From these large and small districts, an army of 2,860,000 men was chosen and stationed along the borders of Tibet, and the subjects thus lived in safety. The bravery and heroism of the Tibetan people at that time in conquering and ruling even the adjacent empire of China is well-known in world history.

"At that time, it is recorded that the regiment of Yö-ru tö had a military flag with a pair of snow-lions facing each other; that Yä-ru mä had a snow-lion with a bright upper border; that of Tzang Ru-iao, had a snow-lion standing upright, springing towards the sky; and the flag of ü-ru tö had a white flame against a red background, and so forth. In this way. the regiments of each area had its own individual military standard. Continuing with that tradition up to the beginning of the twentieth century, various regiments within the Tibetan army have had military flags with either a pair of snow-lions facing each other, or a snow-lion springing upwards and so forth.

"In the latter part of this period, during the rule of His Holiness the Great Thirteenth Dalai Lama, this eminent spiritual and temporal ruler of Tibet enacted many modifications in administrative policies in accordance with international customs. Based on the formats of previous Tibetan military flags, His Holiness improved upon them and designed the present, modern national flag. With an official proclamation, He declared that this would be the uniform, standard flag to be adopted by all Tibetan military defence establishments. Since the time of that proclamation, all Tibetan regiments have likewise adopted this flag as their standard.

"The colour scheme of the Tibetan national flag gives a clear indication of all aspects of Tibet in its symbolism such as the geographic features of the religious. snowy land of Tibet, the customs and traditions of Tibetan society, the political administration of the Tibetan government and so forth.

"History attests to the fact that Tibet is one of the most ancient nations of the world. Therefore, in all the three regions of Tibet, irrespective of caste and creed, this national flag inherited from our ancestors is universally accepted as a common, peerless treasure and even today still continues to be highly respected and esteemed as in the past."

Quoted from "Tibetan National Flag" © Copyright 1980 Library of Tibetan Works and Archives.

An Explanation of the Symbolism of the National Flag of Tibet

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Image scanned and edited by Sönam Tenzin. The explanation of symbolism was translated from the Tibetan in the grade 5 school text book published by the Tibetan Cultural Printing Press, Dharamsala 1989. Comments and suggestions for improvements are welcome--Sönam Tenzin. Last updated 1 July 1995.