Flag and National Anthem
After 1979, Recognized by the United Nations
2. First animated figure on the Flag in
3. Addition of the sun
4. Safavids Flag
5. Nadir Shahs choice of Flag
6. The Rectangular Flag of the Qajar
7. Amir Kabirs Flag
8. The Constitutional Revolution and the
9. The Iranian Flag in the Post-Islamic
Feridoun later ordered the auspicious leather standard
to be cased in rich brocade of yellow, red and pink colors and jewels hung upon it . He
also decreed the flag to be called The Royal Darafsh (flag in Old Persian), hence,
Darafsh-e Kaviyan. As such, there was no figure, of any kind, on the flag. It was just a
colorful combination of yellow, red and pink silk which, based on historical evidences,
remained the national and military flag of Iran in the times of the Achaemenians and
king would add to the jewels attached to the darafsh. When Arab Muslims invaded Iran, the
darafsh was seized in a bloody battle fought around Nahavand (a city with the same name in
todays Hamadan province in the mid-western Iran) and taken, among many other war
spoils including the well-known Baharestan Rug, to the headquarters of Omar-ibn-e Khatab,
the second Caliph of Muslims after the demise of Muhammad. Astounded by the great number
of precious stones and jewels attached to the darafsh, he ordered his soldiers to burn it
after removing off the priceless staff.
For the next 200 years, with Arab occupiers of Iran imposing a religious ban on the
depiction of any animated figure and prohibiting the drawing of any pictures, Iranians did
not have a flag of any type. The only exceptions to this, were two Iranian rebel leaders,
Abu Moslem and Babak who came to pick black and red flags, respectively, as their
resistance banners. The terms, The Black Clad, and The Red Clad,
have been employed by historians to refer to the followers of these two resistance
The second theory is based upon the fact that the ancient Iranian religion,
Mitraism, would regard the sun as sacred. Iranians, therefore, chose to have the sun on
their flag and coins to glorify their magnificent culture.
Among the Safavids, who ruled Iran
over 220 years, only two kings, namely King Ismail I and King Tahmasb I, did not have the
lion and the sun figures on their flags. The former opted for a solid green with a full
moon at the top, while the latter replaced the lion with the lamb, which represented his
birthday month, Farvardin the first month of the Iranian year (Aprl. 19th Mar. 20th)
and Hamal in Syriac calendar.
In the remaining years of the Safavid rule, green was the official color of the flag with the lion and the sun emblems gold-embroidered on it. Although the lion was the inseparable part of the flag throughout the Safavid years, its posture changed many times. Often it appeared in a sitting posture, and occasionally in profile. The sun, too was sometimes attached to the lion and sometimes positioned right above and away from it.
Based on a French tourists account of the time, thin and sharp-pointed standards with Koranic verses and the figure of Zolfaghar (the name given to the two-edged sword of Imam Ali, the first imam of the 12- imam Shitte sect of Islam) were also very popular during the Safavid times.
It seems, Iranian flags, similar to Arab flags, were always of triangular shape.
Nadir Shahs choice of flag
King Nadir, the founder of Afshari dynasty and a self-styled ruler who salvaged Iran from a feudalistic state to form a unified country, made giant military advances toward India and China (on the eastern frontier), Khwarizm and Samarkand (located on the northern part of Iran), and Kirkuk and Bagdad in todays Iraq. As such, flags, especially military ones, would come to signify a lot during all these grand scale military adventures.
Nadirs royal flag was made of yellow and red silk with the traditional sun and lion figures. National flag, on the other hand, was of three colors : green, white and red and a lions profile in a walking posture with a half-risen sun, in the radius of which was a Koranic verse meaning, the Earth is His.
It can safely be concluded that Nadirs choice of three colors of green, white and red was a groundbreaking decision in the formation of the modern Iranian flag. Since then, these colors have been the official colors of the Iranian flag, either royal or national.
Agha Mohammad Khan, the founding father of the Qajar
dynasty, brought about some basic changes in the shape and color combination of the
Iranian flag. For the first time the shape of the flag was changed from triangular to
Out of personal vendetta with Nadir Shah, he ordered the established colors be
removed, and replaced with a solid red color
as the background and a white circle in the middle with the sun and the lion. What was
outstandingly different here was a sword placed in the hands of the lion. Later, FathAli Shah Qajar,
devised two rather different flags suitable for war and peace purposes. A totally red flag
with a sitting lion and the sun on its back served as the war flag; while a green flag
with basically the same figures, was used as peace flag. Surprisingly, the lion on the
peace flag was raising a sword!
It was also during FathAli Shah that a white flag would be utilized for diplomatic and protocol purposes. In a painting depicting the Iranian special envoy to the Russian royal court, Abolhassan Shirazi, having audience with Czar, a white flag with the lion, sun and sword figures, is carried by the Iranian delegation. FathAli Shah is also credited with the introduction of a crown figure positioned on top of the sun.
The great Iranian reformist and chancellor of the Qajar dynsty (during Nasirodin Shah's rule), Mirza Taghi Khan, known better as Amir Kabir, adopted the flag used by Nadir Shah with the exception of its triangular shape. He ordered a ten centimeter green band be patched on top of the flag and a red one at the bottom. Though the three figures of the lion, the sun and the sword were kept, he removed the crown figure placed on the top at the behest of FathAli Shah.
lack of specifications was partly due to the presence of some Muslim clergies in the
Parliament, who would deem using any animated figure against the Islam. The secular MPs
had to resort to some lengthy justifications to convince the fundamentalist MPs to finally
ratify the clause. Green, as the favorite color of Islam, red a symbol of the blood of
martyrs, and white the universal symbol of peace and the favorite color of the
Zoroasterianism, the ancient religion of the pre-Islamic Iran were easily ratified.
were also made to the importance Iranian people attach to the month of Mordad,
corresponding to Asad in Syrian calendar and Imam Alis title (Asadullah,
the lion of God).
1957 (1336 H.J.), Manouchehr Ighball, the prime minister of the time, issued a directive
setting standards for the flag's exact measurements.
Article 18th of the Constitution of the
Islamic Republic of Iran, passed on in 1979 (1358 H.J.) states: The official flag of
the Islamic Republic of Iran is composed of green, white and red colors with the special
emblem of Islamic Republic in the middle together with the motto.