News and Views on Tibet

Opinion: The Tibetan flag and its Brief History

Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
The Tibetan National flag

By Sharpa Rinpoche

The Tibetan national flag is intimately connected with the authentic history and  royal lineages of Tibet which are  thousands of years old. In the Tibetan Royal year 820 or  in the seventh century, at the time of the Tibetan  religious King Songtsen Gampo, large expanse of land was divided into large and small districts. From these large and small  districts, a strong army of 2,860,000 men was recruited  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 Yoeru Toe  had a military flag with a pair of snow-lions facing each other; that Yoeru Mae had a snow-lion with a bright upper border; and the flag of Yoeru Toe had a white flame against a red background, and so forth.  In this way, the regiments of each area had its own individual military iconograph.  Continuing with that tradition into 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, the great Statesman 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 defense establishments.  Since the time of that  proclamation, all Tibetan regiments have likewise adopted this flag as their standard.

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

(Views expressed are his own)

The author is the translator of Trijang Rinpoche’s Autobiography “The Magical Play of Illusions”. He lives in Madison, Wisconsin. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *