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Jomhuri-ye Eslami-ye Iran, Islamic Republic of Iran

Last modified: 2008-02-16 by ian macdonald
Keywords: coat of arms | allahu akbar | tulip | koran | triband: horizontal (green white red) |
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[Iran] 4:7 by Antonio Gutiérrez, 27 January 2008

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Description of the Flag

Horizontally divided green-white-red with a red emblem in the center and stylized writings on the horizontal edges of the white stripe. The hoist of the Iranian flag should be at the viewer's right, as it is the case for Saudi Arabia and Iraq, two other flags featuring writing which reads from right to left.

Approximate specifications (as given in Album des Pavillons 2000:

  • Red: Pantone 186 c / CMYK (%) C 0 - M90 - Y 80 - K 5
  • Green: Pantone 355 c / CMYK (%) C 100 - M 0 - Y 95 - K 5

Use: on land, civil, state and war flag, at sea, civil, State and war ensign.

I visited the Islamic Republic of Iran embassy in Mexico City and I asked about the Iranian flag and emblem. I got the ratio as 3:5 and the approximate colors (PMS) as Pantone hexacrome green C, white, and Pantone Warm Red C.
Manuel Gabino Villascán, 3 February 2003

Is this ratio based on numbers you read in a text of law or did you measure it yourself on a "piece of cloth?"
Armand Noel du Payrat, 4 February 2003

The ratio is based on measurements taken from a desk flag, a "hall" flag, and from the brochures provided by the embassy.
Manuel Gabino Villascán, 4 February 2003

Construction sheet

[Iran construction sheet] image by Juan Manuel Villascan, 3 February 2003

Construction sheet based on a 3:5 dimension flag, as seen in the Iranian embassy in Mexico City.
Juan Manuel Villascan, 3 February 2003

[Iran consturction sheet] image by Juan Manuel Villascan, 3 February 2003

Detail of the Allahu Akbar lettering.
Juan Manuel Villascan, 3 February 2003

A detailed construction sheet is also available at (in Farsi).
Zachary Harden, 24 June 2006

Color Symbolism

The colours of the Iranian flag are traditional, probably dating from at least the 18th century, and they can be interpreted as representing the Islamic religion (green), peace (white), and courage (red). They were first designed in tricolor form in 1907. The flag's centerpiece formerly comprised a lion with a sword standing before a rising sun, with a crown above, but all traditional flags and banners were abolished after the abdication of the shah in 1979.
Source: Shaw, 1994
Carlos de Noronha, 28 March 1998

Central Emblem

The symbol consists of four crescents and a sword. The four crescents are meant to stand for the word Allah (there is indeed some resemblance to the Arabic writing of it). The five parts of the emblem symbolize the five pillars of Islam. Above the sword (central part) is a tashdid (looks a bit like a W). In Arabic writing this is used to double a letter, here it doubles the strength of the sword.
Harald Müaut;ller, 14 May 1996

Looking at the explanation of reading of the symbol, it seems that the entire symbol together reads simply Allah.
Željko Heimer, 8 February 2003

The shape of the emblem is chosen to recall a tulip, in memory of the (young) people who died for Iran. It is an ancient belief in Iran, dating back to mythology, that if a young soldier dies patriotically, a red tulip will grow on his grave. In recent years it is considered as the symbol of martyrdom.
M. N., 7 June 1999

Allahu Akbar

There are Arabic writings in the border line of the stripes. These are 22 copies of the main Islamic phrase Allahu Akbar meaning "God is greater (than everything)". They are written in a beautiful ancient manner dating back to the first centuries of Islam. You can find the same way of writing (which is called Kufic from the city of Kufa, now in Iraq) on old mosques throughout Iran.

According to the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the number 22 was chosen because the Islamic Revolution (known as the 1979 revolution in western chronology) overthrew the previous regime on the 22nd of the 11th month of the Iranian Calendar. The Iranian Calendar is based on Zodiac signs. The year begins on March 21st and the 11th month coincides exactly with Aquarius. So we have 11 green repetitions on the top and 11 red repetitions on the bottom of the white strip.
M.N., 7 June 1999

M.N. mentions that the flag of Iran has Arabic writing. It doesn't. It has Persian (or Farsi) writing. The alphabets are very similar, but not identical and as Iran is a Persian, not Arabic, speaking country...
Irving Birkner, 26 September 2003

It depends on what is meant by "Arabic writing." If it means "Arabic script," then the current quote is correct, as the usual name for that particular script used for the usual Arabic, Persian (and many other) orthographies is indeed "Arabic script." (Just like the Latin script, used to write Latin and many other languages too.) On the other hand, the specific character reportoire and other orthographic features are not 100% the same for Arabic and Persian, and therefore we can tell apart subsets of the Arabic script and call them the "Arabic alphabet" and the "Persian alphabet". Note that this distinction between "alphabet" and "script" is not clear cut and indeed these words are interchangeable or synonyms in some contexts. Finally, while certainly Persian (Farsi) is the national language of Iran and and native to most of its population (minorities include Arabic speakers in Khuzestan), I'd bet, whithout looking it up, that the 22 times repeated writing on the national flag of Iran is indeed in Arabic language, being a religious utterance.
António Martins-Tuválkin, 27 September 2003

The Kufic script used on the Iranian flag is one of two main branches of Arab scrips. It is mainly used for monumental inscriptions on buildings, tombstones, etc. Some experts distinguish the Kufic script as an independent script. Both are developed from the Nabatean script in the 4th-7th centuries. As to the Iranian Iranian flag, the phrase is in Arabic, and we cannot tell if it is the Persian script or a Persian variation of Kufic script, or just Kufic.
Gvido Petersons, 29 September 2003

António is correct that the inscriptions are Arabic, as I just confirmed with an Iranian-born colleague of mine. Farsi pronunciation of the words would vary slightly from standard Arabic, but he said there is no doubt that the inscriptions on the flag are in Arabic.
Joseph McMillan, 29 September 2003

No half-masting of Iranian flag

A government directive, issued on July 18, 2007, banned executive organs from flying Iran's national flag half-mast as a gesture of respect and sympathy on mourning occasions. Vice-President Parviz Davoodi said in his directive that flying the flag for two-third of the way up the flagpole would be disrespect for the holy word, 'Allah' (God), which appears in central part of the three-colored national flag. The notice, a copy of which was made available to IRNA on Saturday, suggested the organs raise more than one flag -- the second one being black at half-mast point- for the purpose on the occasions.
Pascal Vagnat, 23 July 2007


[Iranian jack] image by Miles Li, 30 July 2004

The current jack of the Iranian Navy.
Source: Jane's Fighting Ships 2002-03

Coat of arms

[Coat of arms of Iran]by Željko Heimer

The coat of arms is made of the emblem which appears on the flag, but in green instead of red.