Last modified: 2008-08-09 by ian macdonald
Keywords: nepal | star | crescent | triangle | face |
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5:4, image by André Coutanche
Flag adopted 12 December 1962, coat of arms adopted 16 December 1962.
According to the very precise construction details contained in the Nepalese
Constitution, the proportions of the flag are 4:3 plus width of the blue border
(which makes the upper pendant longer than the lower because of its sharper
Christopher Southworth, 13 May 2003
The moon in the upper part represents the royal house. The sun in the lower part symbolizes a branch of the Rana family, members of which acted as prime ministers until 1961.
The charges are now said to represent the hope that Nepal itself will last as long as the sun and the moon. The style of these heavenly bodies was streamlined on December 16, 1962. The coat of arms still portrays these charges with facial features. Crimson is deemed the national color.
Motto on their coat of arms: "The mother and the Mother Earth are more important than the heavenly kingdom."
Alter (1986) Banderas y escudos del mundo (Flags and coats of arms of the world). Madrid: EASA (1986).
Flags. Philadelphia: Running Press (1994)
The Observer's Book of Flags. London: Frederick Warne & Co. Ltd. (1966)
Juan Vaquer, Jr., 25 February 1999
The faces were removed in 1962, I believe.
John Ayer, 30 September 2000
Some other attributions have been reported to FOTW concerning the origin and meaning of the flag:
Prior to the adoption of the present national flag on Dec16 1962, flags with faces were used in Nepal:
Image based on Flaggenbuch:
image by Jaume Ollé, 27 June 2001
Image based on Flags of All Nations:
image by Jaume Ollé, 27 June 2001
Nozomi Kariyasu, 27 June 2001
Information on a more ancient representation of the Nepali flag can be found in M. Lupant's book:
The first reproduction of the Nepali flag found by M. Lupant is shown in
a book published by Perceval Laundon in 1928 (Nepal, vol. 1, pp.
233-236, Constable, London). The flag was crimson with a green border.
It was made of two superposed isoceles triangles. The two points could
have symbolized the royalty and the Rana family. The moon symbolized the
King and the sun symbolized the Rana family. Moon and Sun expressed the
hope that the Nation shall live as long as them.
The faces are both shown with ears and a symbol in the middle of the
forehead (probably one of the coloured spots used by Hinduists, whose
name I forget), and the face in the upper triangle has a small neck
putting it above the moon.
Ivan Sache, 27 June 2001
Probably the answer is easier, if the question is asked the other way round:
Why are all national flags (except for the Nepali one) rectangular?
The pretty uniform shape of the national flag can be probably explained by the fact that the national flag has its origin in a limited area (Europe and Mediterranean), as ship flags. Certainly there had been different shapes in the early times, but rectangular clothes of an approximate proportion of between 1.5:1 and 2:1 seemed the most practical ones, so the countries "standardized" this shape. Afterwards the ship flags had been adapted for terrestrial use. National flags of countries outside Europe only developed after European national flags had standardized their shape, so they were imitating the rectangular shape as well as some of the symbolic elements (vertical/horizontal stripes, for instance). Older national symbols were transformed to the "European" flag shape, for instance in Ethiopia, where the originally separated red, yellow and green pennants were transformed into a horizontal triband of rectangular shape. Nepal retained the original shape of its flag (basically two pennants one above the other). The first origin of this flag is probably elusive. However, other flags in the Indian area also showed non-rectangular, often pennant-like shape, see in-princ.html#alpha. The Nepali flag is probably the only one surviving, something like a "living fossil". Usually living fossils survive in rather secluded areas, such as Nepal (not having coastal access, and being mountainous) or Switzerland (the same), still sticking to the square shape of its flags.
Marcus E.V. Schmöger, 17 July 2004
The triangular shape reflects the historical shape of flags used by kingdoms
on the Indian subcontinent. Even today the flags flown on the masts of temples
in India are predominantly triangular.
Armano Grande, 19 March 2008
image by Jan Oskar Engene, 20 December 2006
Nepal has seen political turmoil for some time, the latest developments seeing
the King hand over his powers to a parliamentarian government and the government
signing a peace treaty with Maoist rebels. Apparently searching for a new
national emblem has formed part of these developments. The front page of "The
Rising Nepal" newspaper reported on December 18 that a new national emblem
"incorporating national unity and people's sovereignty" has been adopted.
According to the newspaper, the new emblem "reflects spirit of loktantra marked
by inclusiveness and gender parity." The description of the emblem is as
follows: "It is round in shape with national flag on the top of its centre
encircled by rhododendron, the national flower. Inside the circle lies Mt.
Everest, hill, map of Nepal and handshake of a man and a woman. Below the circle
reads the Sanskrit verse 'janani janmbhumisch sworgadapi gariyasi' which means
the 'mother and the motherland are greater than heaven'."
Three artists are named as the people behind the new emblem: Nabindra Man Rajbhandari, Himalaya Gautam and Krishna Shrestha.
It seems clear, then, that the national flag is not undergoing any changes.
Jan Oskar Engene, 20 December 2006
The coat of arms in use before 30 December 2006 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Coat_of_arms_of_Nepal.png)
consists of a white cow, a green pheasant (Himalayan Monal), two Gurkha soldiers
(one carrying a kukri and a bow, and the other a rifle), peaks of the Himalayas,
two crossed Nepalese flags and kukris, the footprints of Gorakhnath (the
guardian deity of the Gurkhas) and the royal headdress. It also contained the
same red scroll with the national motto. This coat of arms was preceded by the
Emblem of Nepal.
Esteban Rivera, 20 January 2008
image by Ivan Sache, 4 March 2007
On the "United
We Blog! for a Democratic Nepal" blog, Prakash Bom explains that the
national flag of Nepal should be changed for the design proposed by Shree
Shreshta. The main idea supporting the change is the need to remove the
connotations with the Hindu nationalism and the royal values. Accordingly, the
proposed flag is rectangular, red with the 12-pointed star of the present flag
The comments left by the blog's readers do not really support the change. Gus Tracchia and Peter Ansoff have added vexillologically oriented comments, whereas most other comments are politically based. Anyway, it seems from that limited sample that the Nepalese do enjoy their national flag and do not want to change it.
Ivan Sache, 4 March 2007
Two major Nepali newspapers -
Gorkhapatra and Nepali
Times - report today that on May 28 (2008), at the first seating of the
Constitutional Assembly, the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal would be
officially declared, before any other business on the agenda. Also, the royal
flag would be removed from atop the Narayanthiti Palace and replaced with the
national flag, presumably unchanged yet.
Chrystian Kretowicz, 23 May 2008
May 29 2008: The flag of Nepal's 240-year-old Shah dynasty has been taken
down from the palace in Kathmandu, after legislators abolished the world's last
Kathmandu - The flag of Nepal's 240-year-old Shah dynasty was taken down from the main palace in Kathmandu on Thursday after legislators abolished the world's last Hindu monarchy, officials said. "The royal flag was replaced by Nepal's national flag inside the palace on Thursday morning," a palace official said on condition of anonymity. Thursday and Friday were declared public holidays in the new republic. The king has been given 15 days to vacate the sprawling pink palace at the heart of Kathmandu, which will now be turned into a national museum. "The flag has been changed as part of the government decision to implement a republic," the palace official said.
Bruce Berry, 29 May 2008
image by Eugene Ipavec, 30 May 2006
Red six-pointed star (like a Magen David, filled)
bordered white and containing a black trident. national flag on the fin.
Željko Heimer, 3 July 2002
The Royal Nepalese Army, Air Wing, was formed in the mid 1960's and became
the Royal Nepal Air Force in July 1979 when it adopted the marking.
Dov Gutterman, 20 June 2004
image by Roman Kogovsek, 9 July 2005
I have seen this flag across Nepal and in Darjeeling. I was told that it is a
Peace flag. It has 16 red rays on a yellow field with a yellow circle and eight
pointed star in the middle. The script is in English and in Nepali: Supreme
Roman Kogovsek, 9 July 2005