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Kingdom of Sarawak 1870-1946 (Sarawak, Malaysia)

Last modified: 2013-11-20 by ian macdonald
Keywords: sarawak | malaysia | cross (black and red) | crown: antique | rajah | swallowtailed |
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[Sarawak 1870-1946 (Malaysia)] 5:7?   image by Uros Zizmund
Flag adopted 7th May 1870, abolished 1946



See also:


Description

The flag includes the yellow of Southeast Asian royalty — note yellow, black and white in the Brunei flag [and the Thai royal flags].
Željko Heimer

I made the GIF according to the drawing in Talocci 1991.
Uros Zizmund, 16 September 1997

Gordon 1915 does not include the crown in his description of the Sarawak flag. National Geographic 1917 shows the version with the crown, and no mention of the merchant flag. National Geographic 1934 shows the old Sarawak Merchant Flag minus the crown. The text reads, "The merchant ships of Sarawak, whose present Rajah is Sir Charles Vyner Brooke, fly this striking combination of yellow, red, and black". Pedersen 1971 says the flag derives from the arms of the Brooke family, and does show the crown in the flag.
Nick Artimovich, 17 September 1997

On 7 May 1870 Sarawak changed into black the dark blue in the national flag and two days later adopted a State flag, which was also war ensign. This added an old style golden crown to the national flag. The design of the crown was, from the beginning, like the one used from 1963 until 1973. With British Admiralty permission of 20 June 1884, the Rajah's standard was modified. All these flags remained in use until 1946 when Sarawak became a colony.
Mario Fabretto, 18 September 1997

I am a Sarawakian and recently did a bit of research about Fort Margherita and the different flags that have flown there. (...) On 7th May, 1870, the first official notification regarding the Sarawak flag was issued by the second Rajah which contained the sentence "Black bunting to be used in place of blue".
Caroline Christina Teo, 6 March 1998

Flaggenbuch 1939 shows the government ensign with the same pattern, yellow field with a centered cross vertically divided red and black and a golden crown in center, but with a larger cross [and the crown somewhat different]. Proportions 7:11.
Ivan Sache, 17 January 2000

According to Flaggenbuch 1939
[Flag 1870-1946 according to Flaggenbuch (Sarawak, Malaysia)] 7:11   image by Ivan Sache

Quoting Dennis Wong, "New Straits Times", 28 October 2006:

"KUCHING: The flag that was draped over the casket of the last White Rajah, Sir Charles Vyner Brooke, has returned home. The Sarawak flag was taken to England by then Deputy Defence Minister Horace Edgar Hamilton Elam, before the Japanese invasion in 1941. After his death in 1982, his children, Susan, 64, and Bruce, 61, kept their fatherís prized possession until they decided to return it. "The flag belongs to Sarawak. My family has kept it long enough and it is time for it to return home," said Bruce after presenting the flag to the Sarawak Museum director Sanib Said here yesterday. The old Sarawak Flag was in service from 1870 until 1946 and had a red and black cross with a five- pointed crown, symbolising the then five divisions of Sarawak. Elam, who came to Sarawak in 1939, was the Mukah District Officer and in September 1941, with the threat of Japanese invasion, was seconded to the Punjab Regiment with the rank of second lieutenant and was based in Batu Kitang, 20km from Kuching. He was later appointed Sarawak Deputy Defence Minister. On Dec 24, 1941, as Japanese bombardment became intense, they were ordered to retreat and among the orders given to Elam was to retrieve all valuable defence documents and materials, including the flag. Elam and several other colonial officers retreated to Bau from Kuching and escaped to Pontianak before heading to Jakarta and then to Australia. Sanib said the flag would be one of the exhibits at the Sarawak War Museum to be located in Dewan Tun Abdul Razak."
Ivan Sache, 30 October 2006


Rajah's Standard 1884-1946

[Rajah's Standard 1884-1946 (Sarawak, Malaysia)] 5:7?   image by Jorge Candeias and Uros Zizmund

With British Admiralty permission of 20 June 1884, the Rajah' standard was modified, becoming similar to the State flag but swallowtailed.
Mario Fabretto
, 18 September 1997

The Personal Flag of the Rajah was swallow-tailed with crown and had parallel top and bottom edges with the fork of the swallow tail reaching back to the fly edge of the vertical arm of the cross. The red horizontal arm was split along both edges of the fork, diminishing in width to a point at the ends of the swallow tail.
Mario Fabretto, 2 October 1997
quoted by David Prothero, 22 July 1998

Flaggenbuch 1939 shows the Standard of the Rajah with the same pattern, yellow field with a centered cross vertically divided red and black, forked with red triangles along the fork mouth and a golden crown in center, [but the crown somewhat different]. Proportions 7:11.
Ivan Sache, 17 January 2000

According to Flaggenbuch 1939
[Rajah's Standard according to Flaggenbuch (Sarawak, Malaysia)] 7:11   image by Ivan Sache


Civil Flag

[Civil Flag 1870-1946 (Sarawak, Malaysia)] 5:7?   image by Jorge Candeias

Flaggenbuch 1939 shows the government ensign with the same pattern, yellow field with a centered cross vertically divided red and black, but with a larger cross. Proportions 7:11.
Ivan Sache
, 17 January 2000

According to Flaggenbuch 1939
[Civil Flag 1870-1946 according to Flaggenbuch (Sarawak, Malaysia)] 7:11   image by Ivan Sache


Specifications

During the time the proportions of the flag changed so it is not possible to give them precisely.
Mario Fabretto
, 18 September 1997

Probably the ratio was changed 7 May 1870 to 5:7 when the cross was changed to black-red. Mauro Talocci [Talocci 1982?] reports the flag adopted in 1870 as having a ratio 1:2.
Jaume Ollé, 2 November 1998

In 1906 the complete set of flags for Sarawak was (sizes in inches):

  1. 36" x 54"        [91.44 cm x 137.16 cm]
  2. 54" x 81"        [137.16 cm x 205.74 cm]
  3. 72" x 108"      [182.88 cm x 274.32 cm]
  4. 108" x 162"    [274.32 cm x 411.48 cm]
  5. 144" x 216"    [365.76 cm x 548.64 cm]
  • Commercial flags; all five sizes.
  • Government flags; sizes 2 and 3; iron crown in the centre of the cross.
  • Rajah's personal flag; size 2 with forked tail; iron crown in the centre of the cross.

    The width of the cross was, in all cases, one third the width of the flag. The iron crown was a very dark yellow, nearly brown. Not the same yellow as the field of the flag. Source: Answer to an Admiralty questionnaire in PRO [Public Record Office] document ADM 116/1063D.
    David Prothero, 14 October 1999

    Editor's note: all the above dimensions give the same proportion 2:3, neither 5:7 nor 1:2.