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Persia (Iran) in the XIXth century

Last modified: 2011-06-11 by ian macdonald
Keywords: persia | lion (yellow) | sun (yellow) | herat | crescents: 9 (blue) | swrod (yellow) |
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National flag

Before first World War flags showing the lion and sun on a plain background seem to have served as national flags. I have found no reference to the swallow-tailed flag mentioned below.

Harald Müller, 14 May 1996

An old atlas (printed in the term of Chester A. Arthur, so 1881-4) depicts the flag of Persia as swallow-tailed, but with the angles at the fly sort of curved. It has five equal horizontal stripes: blue, yellow, green, yellow, blue. The green stripe is also the "tongue" of the swallowtail. On the blue stripes are three stars, with "parentheses" around the middle star. The yellow stripes have two red "four leaf clovers" each, and the green stripe has a sword pointing towards the fly and another star in parentheses at the fly.

Josh Fruhlinger, 11 May 1996

Imperial standard

[Persian Imperial standard] image by Jaume Ollé

The flag shows a yellow lion holding a sword with a sunbehind it and surrounded by a green wreath on a white field with a red triangle at each corner.


  • Flags and Signals of All Nations, by George C. Hounsell (1879)
  • Flags, by A. Macgeorge (1881) [mac81]

Nozomi Karyasu, 5 April 2001

One of three extracts from a memorandum sent to the Marine Department of the Board of Trade in connection with revisions to the pages of national ensigns in the International Code List published in 1879. [Public Record Office MT 9/183]


1873. When the Shah visited Britain, Her Majesty's Minister in Persia telegraphed a description of Persian Royal Standard and Ensign.

" both white with border of green all round, the Standard having upon it the Shah's crown with a portrait of Mohomed Shah and two lions with the rising sun behind each, the Ensign having upon it only one lion with rising sun behind."

This differs from the flags shown in Znamierowski's reproduction (page 21) of Colton's 1862 "Flags of All Nations" in which the royal standard has one lion, with rising sun behind and crown above, while the merchant ensign is plain white. Both flags have a red border outside the green border, but no border at all next to the staff.

David Prothero, 17 April 2001

Army flag

Battle of Heratby Pedram Kian

This flag was used by the Iranian Army during the siege of Herat (west of Afghanistan) in 1838. The Arabic script on the flag [نطر من الله و فتح لقريب, Natser min Allah wa-fatakh al-karib] means "With the Help of God, Victory is Near," in Arabic language.

Pedriam Kian, 14 October 1999

Unidentified flag

[Persian flag, 1876] image by Jaume Ollé

This "Persian flag" is shown on a Japanese flag plate dated 1876. It was probably not the Persian national flag, but perhaps the flag of a local ruler in Persian Gulf. The flag is also shown on other old plates.
Jaume Ollé
, 17 January 2000