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Muang Thai, Kingdom of Thailand, Prathet Thai

Last modified: 2002-11-16 by santiago dotor
Keywords: thailand | siam | muang thai | prathet thai | buddhism | elephant | chakra | crown: thai | trairanga | thong chat thai | dhammakaya pagod | pagod | stripes: 5 | singha beer | asean |
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[Thailand] 2:3 | stripes 1:1:2:1:1
by Joan-Francés Blanc
Flag adopted 28th September 1917, coat-of-arms adopted 1910

See also:

Other sites:

The Trairanga or Tricolour

The current Thai National Flag or "Thong Chat Thai": It was King Vajiravudh -Rama VI- who, amongst other things, refashioned the flag of Siam in 1917, replacing the white elephant on a red field standard with the contemporary tri-color [or Trairong]. Although not an "official" interpretation of the Thai flag, the prevailing view is as follows: the central blue stripe represents the monarchy, the two white stripes are the Therevada Buddhist religion, and the outer red stripes represent the land or the nation.

Riley B. VanDyke, 22 June 1998

In Thailand (...) the Thai National Flag was used everywhere and every school day started with a flag raising and the singing of Thong Chat (The Flag) either assembled in the school courtyard or in the classrooms.

Phil Abbey, 17 September 1998

The flag of Thailand did not change during World War Two in spite of its being allied to Japan, and was the same as the present one.

Norman Martin and Jaume Ollé, 10 August 1999

Flag Usage

Thailanders display their national flag with as much frequency as folks in the United States. In fact, it is not at all unusual to see giant Thai flags flying over corporate buildings much like US car dealers fly giant American flags. There are small flag makers everywhere and buying a Thai flag is easy. Thai flags are usually made of light weight polyester or open weave cotton type bunting. Occasionally I could spot one made of broad cloth.

Thai folk are also proud of their history and demonstrate said pride by displaying historical flags. Virtually any old Thai flag with an elephant on it can be bought. Bangkok is also a good place to find flags of other countries. It is easy to find old flags off ships for sale on the streets.

Many international Thai firms will have multiple sets of flag poles up in front of their headquarters. It is very inexpensive to have foreign flags made up in Bangkok's flag shops, so flag display is popular.

Clay Moss, 4 July 2001

Flag on State Buildings

[Flag on State Buildings (Thailand)]
by Jaume Ollé

The Singha Beer Thong Thai Website

There is a website, apparently set up by a brewing company, with scores of Thai flags. More than 70 flags are depicted and described on this site. The images are rather small and poor, so it is difficult to see the details of the emblems. Dates are given in the Buddhist calendar.

Jan Oskar Engene, 13 August 1997

The Singha Beer website contains many Thai flags which are not still in FOTW. They are divided into:

The texts plus some selected images (those which have no similarity whatsoever to any other Thai flag in FOTW) have been added to the FOTW website. In all the images, please note that the narrow, dark blue border matches the webpage background and is not part of the flag.

Santiago Dotor, 26 October 1999

Definitely, someone must have drawn the flags without the full descriptions which appeared close to them in the website; the Commander's Flag should be 2:5 and appears as 3:4, the Commander-in-Chief of the Army flag should be a 5:6 flag whereas the image is 7:10, etc. Those flags which also appear in Flaggenbuch 1939 follow the ratios of the descriptions. So I guess the descriptions are more precise as reference.

Santiago Dotor, 5 November 1999

One more thing. The Thai equivalent for "fleet" has been wrongly translated as "frigate". Thus, the Commander of the Fleet Flag is said to be that of a "Frigate Commander" and about the Pu Yai Flag it says "high ranking officers from a frigate were on board that particular vessel".

Santiago Dotor, 12 November 1999

Thai Buddhism Flag

Dharma Wheel Flag or Thong Dhammacak

In Thailand there were often two flags used in parades and other celebrations. The Thai National Flag was used everywhere (...). The other flag was saffron coloured with a red wheel similar to the wheel on the Indian flag except much larger. It was explained to me that it symbolized Buddhism, the national religion; or the Chakri (Royal) family; or loyalty to the King. Given the colour of the field I would bet on the Buddhism theme. My wife claims that she never saw it although there is one hanging in her mother's sitting room.

Phil Abbey, 17 September 1998

The flag Phil Abbey mentioned is Thong Dhammacak (Dharma Wheel Flag) — yellow flag with a red Dhammacak at the center. This the flag for Thai Buddhism.

Wisarut Bholsithi, 29 October 1999

Political Parties

The emblems of ten Thai political parties can be found at this page.

Franc Van Diest, 3 January 2000

All emblems and two more on a page in Thai language at the Thai Parliament Official Website. As far as I could find out the extra emblems have filenames "thai" (Thai party) and "thai-sa" (Thai Democratic Party).

Jarig Bakker, 3 January 2000

I understand these are simply emblems not flags. Actually some contain the Thai flag itself.

Santiago Dotor, 3 January 2000

Boy Scouts' Flags

From the Singha Beer source:

The Flags of various Boy Scout Troops
This is the flag King Rama VI ordered to be conveyed to the boy scouts as a symbol of himself as their King. Each member of the troop, therefore, had to swear an oath to protect the flag at all costs — even at the cost of his life. Consequently, each individual troop in the provinces had to note the date on which the flag had been delivered to them and memorize the words of advice given to their unit by His Majesty so that they would always be reminded of their mission.

King Rama VI started the Boy Scouts' movement and from B.E.2458 [1915 AD] onwards presented Boy Scout troops from various regions with their own individual flags. King Rama VII added to each one so that at the First Jamboree of Thai Boy Scouts in B.E.2470 [1927 AD] every region had its very own flag.

This is followed by 14 regional flags:

  • Pattanee Region
  • Nakornsrithammaraj Region
  • Phuket Region
  • Bangkok Region
  • Nakornchaisi Region
  • Ratchaburi Region
  • Ayudhya Region
  • Pitsanulok Region
  • Phayap Region
  • Chandraburi Region
  • Nakornratchasima Region
  • Nakornsawan Region
  • Prajin Region
  • Udon Region

Santiago Dotor, 29 October 1999

Dhammakaya Pagod Flag

[Dhammakaya pagod (Thailand)]
by Ivan Sache

A paper in Courrier International, translated from Asiaweek (Bangkok) is illustrated by a picture of the Dhammakaya pagod, in the North of Bangkok. The picture shows the pagod in the background, monks in meditation in front of it and two identical flags in foreground. Identification of the flag is quite easy from the picture.The flag is a 1:2 saffron field with the solid silhouette of the pagod in yellow.

Ivan Sache, 31 July 1999

Another Dhammakaya flag at the Dhammakaya Foundation website.

Gvido Petersons, 16 December 1999

Flags in The King and I Movie

I recently watched the remake of The King and I (was that the original English title?). Many flags could be seen in the movie, the most frequent being of course the pre-1916 Siamese flag of red with a white elephant. The King (Mongkut or Rama IV, as he was designated long after his death) and the Crown Prince (the future Chulalongkorn or Rama V) themselves give an explanation to Anna Leonowens of the meaning of the flag, "red is for courage, white for compassion; the white elephant is a very rare species and hence a sign of good luck and an excellent present". Actually later in the film the King needs to disseminate the purported appearance of a white elephant, and everybody in Bangkok is shown waving small national flags.

At the royal palace and in royal processions, the national flag is only shown flanking the king. The most common flag shown in palace is a red triangular flag with a golden border with flammules. The bottom side is horizontal, like in other ancient Far Eastern royal flags. However, once or twice other triangular flags with flammules are shown (this time white flags with multicoloured designs and flammules) with a horizontal upper side. Maybe this is a mistake?

During a night party in palace, the only flag displayed is dark blue with a red border on all sides. This could well be 1891-1910 Royal Flag, wrongly attributed to a former date (the action takes place in the early 1860s).

Finally, as the royal family is fleeing to a refuge in the jungle using a ship, this displays the national flag on the mizzenmast but as ensign it carries a blue flag with a white (and as far as my eyes could tell, not caparisoned) elephant [similar to the Flag on State Buildings].

Santiago Dotor, 17 January 2000

That movie is pure entertainment and that's all — there was no Chinese Community by the City Wall (the Chinese live in Sampheng-Yaowarat area which is outside the city wall), Wat Phrakaeo has no Buddhist monks (except during Royal Buddhist ceremonies) etc. Therefore, it is quite moronic to beleive that "red is for courage, white for compassion". The white elephant reference is quite close to the actual meaning. White elephants are auspecious creatures which are bounded to the life of kings. If the elephants died (in the case of the only white elephants during his reign), it meant that the king passed away or forever lost his power to rule the country.

The flag waving is quite a modern thing that never appear[ed] during the reign of King Mongkut and King Chulalongkorn even though some degree of Thai nationalism began to emerge. As for other flags (triangular flags), they are merely signs to the subjects that the king is coming. Ajarn Phaothong Thongjuea work[ed] is a Thai professor who worked as a consultant for 20th Century Fox for this movie and might give further explanations.

Wisarut Bholsithi, 17 January 2000

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