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Alleged Kham flag (Tibet)

Eastern Tibet

Last modified: 2020-07-11 by ian macdonald
Keywords: tibet | kham |
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Here is flag I found on wikipedia, which is said to represent Kham or Eastern Tibet.
To be honest, I find this flag particularly dubious for various reasons:

- first, it is an obvious copy of the flag of the Karma-Kagyü school of Tibetan buddhism (in particular the erroneous depiction shown here, see the correct one here), with the yellow part becoming red and a yellow sun added in the upper left.

- second, Kham didn't really exist as an identity unit. Historically it was an area made of of several small kingdoms, principalities and lordships regularly if not constantly at war with one another. It was regrouped as a Chinese province for a short time between the 30s and the 40s by the nationalist governement (which doesn't means China controled this area, it was more on the paper than reality), under the name Xikang, but soon it became integrated to the Sichuan province. The lands which formed Xikang were then called Ganzi prefecture. Even in the 50s, peoples used to identify themselves from their particular birthplace, not from the whole area.

- third, the two previous reasons make it so that Kham was religiously heterogeneous. While Tibetan buddhism was largely dominant, the area was shared by its various schools and sub-schools (which, by and large, came there to be sheltered from the grasp of the Lhasa-based Gelug school). Therefore, using a flag so directly inspired by a single sub-school smells quite fishy to me.

I may be wrong, but I have never seen any photograph of this flag, therefore I would consider it very cautiously.
Corentin Chamboredon, 02 September 2014