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Sudan - historical flags

Last modified: 2008-02-09 by zeljko heimer
Keywords: sudan | africa | arab | mahdi | crescent and spear | lado | rivers | customs | magen david |
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Former flag, 1956-1970

[Flag of Sudan, 1956-70] [National Flag and Civil and State Ensign] 1:2
by Željko Heimer, 24 January 2003

First flag of independent Sudan, blue over yellow over green tricolour was adopted 1 January 1956. Ratio 1:2.

Jaume Ollé, 3-MAR-1996

There was a hijacking of a Sudanese airliner to Stansted airport here in England recently. In one newspaper report there was a colour photo of the airliner on the ground at the airport, and whilst it had the current Sudanese flag (in the "Arab Revolt" colours of red, white, green and black) painted on the fuselage by the cockpit, the "flash" (or what I believe is called the "cheat line") of the airline's livery along the length of the aircraft was clearly in the colours of the old blue over yellow over green flag used from independence in 1956 until 1970.

Roy Stilling, 3-SEP-1996

Try to see my page about Sudan in Historical Flags.

Jaume Olle, 17 October 1998

I have 1959 rather than 1956 for the adoption date of the tricolour, but since I don't have an original copy of the law it could well be a misprint?

Christopher Southworth, 30 December 2003

Former naval ensign, 1956-1970

[Naval Ensign of Sudan, 1956-70] [Naval Ensign] 1:2
by Željko Heimer, 24 January 2003

Pre-1969 war ensign was white with the national flag in canton.

Jaume Ollé, 3-MAR-1996

Customs flag, 1956-1970

[Customs Flag of Sudan, 1956-70] by Paige Herring, 24 May 1998

Sudanese customs used a blue flag with two white equalateral triangles charged with a red triangle. One triangle was inverted on top of the other. I believe that this flag's usage was discontinued when the new national flag of Sudan was adopted in 1970.

Source - Barraclough, Flags of the World (1969).

Paige Herring, 24 May 1998

My source (including a black and white illustration) is Carr 1961 [car61], p. 250. It shows much thicker red lines, so that the white ones are a fimbriation.
Santiago Dotor, 15 April 2003.

Anglo-Egyptian condominium

[Governor-General's flag during the Condominium] by Jaume Ollé, 03 October 1999

The Governor General's personal flag when afloat was the Union Jack with the standard white disc and laurel leaf garland and

on the white disc.

David Prothero, 30 September 1999

During the Anglo-Egyptian condominium there was no flag for Sudan, but the two flags (Union Jack and Egyptian) were used at all places. The Egyptian flag changed three times: until 1914 it was red with a crescent and star (as for the Ottoman); during 1914-1923 it was red with three crescents and three stars; and during 1923-1954 it was green with one crescent and three stars. I believe that the condominium finished in 1956 but the blue-yellow-green flag of Sudan was hoisted in 1954. W. Smith's 1975 book has a photo of the two flags with the following text: 'Therefore the flags of these two countries were flown jointly, with the Union Jack always taking precedence - except in the city of Suakin, where Egyptian flag flew alone'. Why was Suakin an exception?

Željko Heimer, 6-OCT-1996

In my Allers Illustrerede Konversations-Leksikon, Copenhagen 1906-10, I found an article on Suakin. It seems that the city itself (lying on an island) belonged to Egypt, while the hinterland and the mainland town, El Kef (Gef), belonged to Anglo-Egyptian Sudan. I don't know when Suakin became Sudanese...

Ole Andersen, 4 January 1999

I can say that the Egyptian constitution of 1948 prepared the way for incorporate Sudan.
Sudan was a kingdom after 1951 when Faruk is proclaimed King of Sudan.
But against the annexionist policy, Great Britain defend the right of the self determination. After the revolution of 1952 the new government is agree with the sudanese independence and 1953 autonmy was stablished. If flag was used I don't know. Paliament was opened 1954 and later proclaimed the independence that was efective 1-1-56. Perhaps the independence flag was already in use before but I don't have confirmation.

Jaume Ollé, 3 October 1999

Flags of the Mahdi

Some years ago I saw a movie about the Mahdiya revolution and I seem to recall that a black flag with white Shahada (or white flag with black Shahada) was used. Does someone know if the flag in the movie was the mere imagination of the director or really the flag of the Mahdi?

Jaume Ollé, 4-MAR-1996

Indeed, the flag of the Mahdi is always said to be black. Since the colors have a deeper religious meaning, any white flag should be out of question (my guess). It is, however, an Arab tradition to write religious statements on flags. So, for once, the flags in the movie could very well have had a historical background.

Harald Müller, 5-AUG-1996

G.W. Steevens in his With Kitchener to Khartoum refers to a few Mahdist flags. At the battle of Omdurman, he mentions the "black banner of the Kahlifa's brother" and the "blue and white banners of his son". Khalifa Abduallah el Taashi was successor to the Mahdi. War artist H.C. Seppings Wright (who was at the battle of Ombdurman, I think) has done a painting of the aftermath of the massacre in which the dead Mahdists are still holding upright the Kahlifa's black flag.

T.F. Mills, 6-AUG-1996

[Mahdist flag] by Mark Sensen, 6-AUG-1996

[Mahdist flag] by Mark Sensen, 6-AUG-1996

I have a copy of a letter (11 September 1952) from the Sudan Government Civil Secretary's Office, Public Relations Branch to Dr Ottried Neubecker with a drawing of the Mahdists' flag hoisted over the party headquarters, regarded as the standard version: horizontal black-red-green, with a white crescent (points upward) and spear overall in the center. Another version had the crescent and spear in the black stripe at the fly.

Mark Sensen, 6-AUG-1996

"Le Quotidien du Pharmacien", 20 February 2006, has a report entitled "Dans le nord du Soudan - Sur les traces des pharaons noirs" (In the north of Sudan - On the steps of the black pharaohs". The report ends with a quote from a traveler from the XIIIth century (therefore long after the pharaohs!):

"Dongola has seven impregnable stone walls, wide streets, churches with frescos and paintings on fabric. The king's house is very high, with red brick domes. His Majesty has a white flag charged with the cross and excellent horses; its army uses russet dromedaries."

Dongola, aka Dunqulah, is located on the Nile, 500 km north-north-east of Khartum; it is the capital city of the province of Ash-Shamaliyah (North).

The aforementioned article gives also details on the Mahdi, whose flags are shown above.

Muhammad Ahmad ibn Abd Allah (1844-1885) proclaimed himself the Mahdi in 1881. In the Islamic tradition, the mahdi, lit., the Well Guided, shall be sent by God at the end of the times to restore faith and justice on the Earth. The Mahdi stirred up the country against "the infidel foreigners" (the Brits) and "the impious Turks". General Charles Gordon (1833-1885, aka Gordon Pasha), Governor of Sudan in 1877-1880 was called back from Britain to restore law and order. He was surrounded and killed in Karthum in 1885. The Mahdi died six months later.

Twelve years later, Britain sent an expedition involving 25,000 men in order to control the Nile and to get rid of the Khalifate, a self-proclaimed religious and military dictatorship of Mahdist origin. The expedition was related by Winston Churchill in his book "The River War". The British armies defeated the Mahdists in Omdurman and Atbara. Lord Herbert Kitchener (1850-1916) ordered to exhume the Mahdi's body and to behead it. The head was sent to Queen Victoria, who was offended by the present.

Ivan Sache, 21 February 2006

Lado enclave, 1894-1906

[Lado enclave 1894-1906] by Jaume Ollé

The Lado territory was a British possession which the British government rented to the Congo Free State in 1894. It was returned to Sudan in 1910.

Jaume Ollé, 19-NOV-1996

The 1924 revolt

[Flag of the 1924 revolt] by Jaume Ollé

The flag of the 1924 revolt is white with the Egyptian flag in canton and the White Nile, Blue Nile and Atbara. The flag is the one of the nationalist movement called "White flag League" very active in the 1920s.
Source is Yuri Kurasov (Flaggenmitteilung 29)

Jaume Ollé, 3 October 1999