Myanmar, flag of

Myanmar, flag of

▪ Flag History

      national flag consisting of a red field (background) with a blue canton bearing, in white, a circle of stars, a cogwheel, and ears of rice. The flag has a width-to-length ratio of 5 to 9.

      In many Asian countries the earliest flag representing the ruler had a plain background with a distinctive national animal in the centre. In Myanmar the peacock was that central emblem, introduced in 1757 by King Alaungpaya (Alaungpaya). The peacock, symbolic of the sun and of Buddhism, was also said to stand for happiness and unity. Under the colonial rule of the British (1886–1948), when the country became known as Burma, there was a special Blue Ensign with a gold disk bearing the peacock, although for most of the years of British rule the Union Jack (United Kingdom, flag of the) alone was displayed.

      In August 1943 a Japanese-sponsored puppet regime established a horizontal tricolour of yellow-green-red bearing a white disk with a gold central peacock. The regime was opposed by the Anti-Fascist Organization (later the Anti-Fascist People's Freedom League), whose red banner with a single white star in the upper hoist corner inspired the national flag of Burma at the time of its independence (January 4, 1948). That new flag was red and had a large white star on a blue canton; the star had five smaller stars between its points, representing the different ethnic groups of the country. A new regime changed the national flag on January 3, 1974. The stars for the ethnic groups were replaced by 14 stars for the states and other divisions of the country, and instead of the large star there was a cogwheel for industrial workers, framing two ears (and four leaves) of rice, a symbol of the peasantry. The blue in the flag is for truthfulness and strength; red is for bravery, unity, and determination; and white is for truth, purity, and steadfastness.

Whitney Smith
 

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Universalium. 2010.

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