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Myanmar (Burma): former flags

Last modified: 2002-06-28 by michael smuda
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A History of Burmese Flags

The history of Burmese flags is interesting, but not yet fully investigated. So I send you a list of my knowledge on this topic. After a look at the CISV archives I got the following for the period till 1945:

Burma, national flags till 1945

XVIII century - 1886

White, a peacock on a red disk or inside a red ring.

1886 - 1939

Member of India. The Indian flag flew on this territory. (But see note below for the period 1937-1939.)

9 February 1939 (introduced 6 February) - 1941

The Blue Ensign, Burmese badge on the fly (a golden disk, a peacock in proper colours superimposed). Also used 1945 - 1948.

March 1941 - 1942

Blue, a peacock in proper colours on a yellow disk amid.


[1942 Flag of Burma] Pier Paolo Lugli, 30 March 1998

The provisional pro-Japan government adopted the flag of the Synyethe - Wunthann party as the unofficial national flag (yellow, a green stripe atop, charged with a red roundel).

1 August 1943 - 1945

[1943 Flag of Burma] Pier Paolo Lugli, 30 March 1998

A triband, yellow green red from top to bottom, a yellow stylised peacock on a white disk overall. This was after the independentist party flag, its colours coming from the radical-national party flag of Doubama, 1930 - 1938 and attested in a flag flown from the liberation army, 1941. Does anybody have a good picture of this flag? I know it appeared on stamps, too.
Pier Paolo Lugli, 30 March 1998

The Burma-Japanese occupation flag is a horizontal tricolour of red, orange, green, with the Burmese peacock in full colour over all on a red disc in the center. The colours represented bravery, Buddhist faith, and agriculture.
Nozomi Kariyasu, 30 March 1998

1943 - 1945

the anti-Japan movement fought under a red flag bearing a white star on top hoist, later to be the basis for the modern national flag.

Pier Paolo Lugli, 30 March 1998


There is also an open issue: in a table published on the German magazine Signal (the last, special number for 1943, the Italian version) Burma's flag is red with, presumably, a peacock on it. This sounds similar to the 1941 - 1942 flag, but with a different background colour: does anybody have more information?

Burma was administratively part of the Indian Empire, but it seems that it was the undefaced Union Flag that was used until sometime in 1939. Burma was separated from Indian Empire 1st April 1937, but the Union Flag and Blue Ensign defaced with the peacock design was not approved until 9th February 1939.

From a newspaper cutting of this date. "King has approved national flag for Burma. Hitherto it has been the Union Flag. On the Blue Ensign; a peacock in natural colours on a circle with gold background. Governor's is the same on a Union Flag with garland. Date of use to be notified after international recognition."

The peacock design was taken from the silver coinage of King Mindon 1852.
David Prothero, 31 March 1998

Old flag of Burma (1948-1974)

[1948 Flag of Burma] Vincent Morley, 12 April 1997

The 1948 flag of Burma is red with a blue canton containing one large white star and five small white stars around it.

The older flag of Burma (taken from a book published in the early 1960's) has also been shown as all red with a gold star in the upper left and five smaller stars arrayed around it.

Dipesh Navsaria, 2 April 1996

[1952 Civil/Merchant Ensign of Burma] Vincent Morley, 23 April 1997

The former civil/merchant ensign of Burma was adopted in 1952 and, as far as I know, it continued in use until 1974 when the current flag was adopted - confirmation or correctionof that date would be welcome. This drawing is based on the illustration in Pedersen, 1971. Vincent Morley, 23 April 1997

Former War Ensign

[Former War Ensign of Myanmar] Ivan Sache, 29 January 1998

White ensign with arms in blue canton.

Ivan Sache, 29 January 1998

I have a 1954 edition of Jane's Fighting Ships, which shows three flags (in black and white line drawings) for Burma:

  1. The President's Standard: a peacock proper, in full plumage, centred on a saffron field (the colour of the field is noted in the text).
  2. The Naval Ensign: the canton is made up of six 5-pointed stars; white in colour, centred on a blue field. One of the stars is in the very centre of the field, and is much larger than the other 5, (roughly 2+ times the size of the others). All the stars are oriented with a single point up, and 2 points downward. The 5 smaller stars are placed around the large central star, at roughly the 1 o'clock, 4 o'clock, 6 o'clock, 8 o'clock, and 11 o'clock positions, (ie., centred in-between the 5 arms of the large central star). The rest of the ensign is identical to the British White Ensign, (i.e., a red Cross of St George, upon a white field).
  3. The National Flag; (Mercantile Ensign?): The canton is as for the Naval Ensign; the field is plain red.
Glen Robert-Grant Hodgins, 30 March 1998

Peacock flag

[Peacock flag of Myanmar] Steve Stringfellow, 20 August 1997

From a pre-1917 cigar box label insert.

In "A Pocket Dictionary of Flags" by John Gaunt Jr. published in 1876 [gau1876], the Burmese flag has a white field with a peacock in full color.

John Niggley, 25 January 1996

[Peacock flag of old Burma] Jorge Candeias, 4 October 1999

The burmese flag shown on an old flag plate is the old peacock on a white field. I've seen this design in several sources, always with a different peacock, though they all seem to be naturalistically drawn (and coloured). FOTW shows a scan of an old cigar box with this flag. However, Pier Paolo's short history of burmese flags does not include it, being the "White, a peacock on a red disk or inside a red ring." of until 1886 [being] the closest we can find. I think I've also seen this one, although the simply white one seems to be more frequently depicted. This doesn't mean, of course, that it was indeed in use.

To make the above GIF I simply took clipart and placed it on a white field. It is probably no more correct or incorrect than any other such representation. Which probably means that the accuracy relative to flags really used last century is pretty low. The proportions of the flag (overall, symbol to field, etc.) and the position of the peacock (facing the hoist) were taken from the image in the flagplate. [See below]

[Peacock flag of old Burma] Jorge Candeias, 4 October 1999

Jorge Candeias, 4 October 1999

Japanese Occupation

The Japanese created a puppet state in Burma on 1 August 1943. The flag is described in several forms, but probably was horizontally dark yellow, green and red, with a red circle containing the Burmese peacock in natural colours. In Dirk's collection a flag is shown green over yellow with a central red circle. This is perhaps a version of the flag of the Poor Men's Party, the political movement that opposed the puppet republic. The flag is described as green over yellow with a rising sun in the upper stripe. The rising sun is similar to the rising sun on the national arms; this is only half the sun with several narrow and short rays.
Jaume Ollé, 23 April 1997

Burmese Fin Flash

[Old Burma fin Flash] Dov Gutterman, 8 October 1999

Former Burma was of the exceptional states [with] its fin flash as nothing to do with the national flag. The Tambaw Lay used a square, vertical yellow/gold-white-blue (2:1:2) as its flash. Scan from Wheeler's book. Dov Gutterman, 8 October 1999

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