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Kingdom of Sarawak 1848-1870 (Sarawak, Malaysia)

Last modified: 2023-06-03 by zachary harden
Keywords: sarawak | malaysia | cross (blue and red) |
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[Flag of Sarawak 1848-1870] 3:4   image by Jorge Candeias
Flag adopted 21st September 1848, abolished 7th May 1870

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In 1848 Sarawak had a national flag which also was civil and war ensign: the flag was yellow with a cross half dark blue (toward the hoist) and half red. This flag was hoisted on the British frigate Meander on 21 September 1848 when Sir Brooke returned to Kuching from England and was officially recognized by the British government on 20 June 1849. Proportion 3:4.
Mario Fabretto
, 18 September 1997

According to The Flag Bulletin the flag with blue-red cross had a ratio 3:4. Probably the ratio was changed 7 May 1870 to 5:7 when the cross was changed to black-red.
Jaume Ollé, 2 November 1998

I am a Sarawakian and recently did a bit of research about Fort Margherita and the different flags that have flown there. (...) In 1845, Sir James Brooke designed a flag which was eventually hoisted on 21st September, 1848. According to Sarawak Long Ago by W.J. Chater, Published by the Borneo Literature Bureau in 1969:

(...) the flag was designed by the Rajah himself and was said to have been made up from the half purple and the half red cross of his Armorial Bearings, on a yellow ground. Yellow was the royal colour of Borneo. But this statement is misleading since the colour of the cross in the Brooke Armorial Bearings was later described in a letter written by the second Rajah as blue and red".
A description of an eye-witness account by Mrs. McDougall, the wife of Bishop McDougall who was living in Kuching at that time quoted Mrs. McDougall as saying "The Sarawak flag is a purple and red cross, out of Sir James Brooke's armorial shield, on a yellow background". However, 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

The hoisting of the new flag on 21st September 1848 is recorded by Harriette McDougall on page 58 of Letters from Sarawak (and painted — reproduced on the cover of the Oxford reprint of 10 Years in Sarawak).
Martin Laverty, 20 July 1998
through Jennifer Watson, Rajah Brooke & 19thC Sarawak website editor