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Sudan - historical flags

Last modified: 2023-01-21 by bruce berry
Keywords: sudan | africa | arab | mahdi | crescent and spear | lado | rivers | customs | magen david |
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National flag (1956 - 1970)

[National Flag and Civil and State Ensign] 1:2 Image by Željko Heimer, 24 Jan 2003

First flag of independent Sudan was a blue over yellow over green tricolour was officially adopted at independence on 01 January 1956 although the flag had been use since 1954.
Jaume Ollé, 03 Mar 1996

The Egyptian Constitution of 1948 made provision for the  incorporation of Sudan.  However, Sudan became a kingdom after 1951 when Faruk was proclaimed King of Sudan.  In opposition to the proposed incorporation into Egypt, Great Britain defended the right of self determination in Sudan. After the revolution of 1952, the new government agreed on the issue of Sudanese independence and autonomy was established in 1953. Parliament was opened 1954 and later announced that independence would be proclaimed on 01 January 1956.
Jaume Ollé, 03 Oct 1999

There was a hijacking of a Sudanese airliner to Stansted airport here in England recently. In one newspaper report there was a colour photo of the airliner on the ground at the airport, and whilst it had the current Sudanese flag (in the "Arab Revolt" colours of red, white, green and black) painted on the fuselage by the cockpit, the "flash" (or what I believe is called the "cheat line") of the airline's livery along the length of the aircraft was clearly in the colours of the old blue over yellow over green flag used from independence in 1956 until 1970.
Roy Stilling, 03 Sep 1996

Try to see my page about Sudan in Historical Flags.
Jaume Olle, 17 Oct 1998

Naval ensign (1956 - 1970)

[Naval Ensign] 1:2 Image by Željko Heimer, 24 Jan 2003

Pre-1969 naval  ensign was white with the national flag in canton.
Jaume Ollé, 03 Mar 1996

Anglo-Egyptian Condominium (1899 - 1956)

During the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium (1899 until 1956) there was no individual flag for Sudan.  Instead the two flags of Egypt and the United Kingdom were used, with the British flag taking precedence.

  Image by Clay Moss, 16 Dec 2006

       Images by Željko Heimer

The Egyptian flag changed three times during the Condominium period: up until 1914 it was red with a crescent and star (as for the Ottoman Empire); between 1914 and 1923 it was red with three crescents and three stars; and finally between 1923 and 1954 it was green with one crescent and three stars.  I believe that although the Condominium ended in 1956, the blue-yellow-green flag of Sudan was hoisted in 1954.  Flags Through the Ages and Across the World (1975) by Whitney Smith [sme75b] has a photo (p.153) of the two flags with the following text: 'Therefore the flags of these two countries were flown jointly, with the Union Jack always taking precedence - except in the city of Suakin, where Egyptian flag flew alone'. Why was Suakin an exception?
Željko Heimer, 06 Oct 1996

In my Allers Illustrerede Konversations-Leksikon, Copenhagen 1906-10, I found an article on Suakin. It seems that the city itself (lying on an island) belonged to Egypt, while the hinterland and the mainland town, El Kef (Gef), belonged to Anglo-Egyptian Sudan which probably explains why only the Egyptian flew in the city.
Ole Andersen, 04 Jan 1999


Fictitious Flag attributed to Anglo-Egyptioan Sudan

image sent by BlinxCat, 05 Dec 2022


Some sites attribute the flag illustrated above as being an ensign for Anglo-Egyptian Sudan but I cannot verify the sources.
BlinxCat, 05 Dec 2022


This flag is completely fictitious, although it has been sold by some flagmakers since at least 2013.

Some sources attribute the design to the period from 22 October 1952 to independence on 01 January 1956. It is claimed to have been the flag of the State of Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, something that did not exist. Self-government was proposed for Sudan in 1952 but Egypt objected to the arrangements and it was not until January 1954 that self-government was achieved as part of a three year transition to independence.


image sent by Ralph Kelly, 05 Dec 2022

The design is from the Khedive's Sudan Medal of 1911 - 1926.
Ralph Kelly, 05 Dec 2022

Interim Flag (1955)


Image by Nozomi Kariyasu, 15 Jan 2021


For a short period before the adoption of the new flag on 01 January 1956, a white flag with "Sudan" in red in the centre was used.  This flag was displayed during Afro-Asian Conference (18-24 April 1955) in Bandung (Indonesia) where 29 countries participated.
Nozomi Kariyasu, 15 Jan 2021


This flag was created solely for the Afro-Asian Conference in April 1955 in Bandung, Indonesia at which the Sudan was represented. The organisers wanted to display the national flag of each of the  countries attending and since there was no flag for the Sudan, they just made up a flag with the word SUDAN in red on a white background, to fill the gap in the flag array.  It had no official status in the Sudan and, I believe, it was not used at any other location or event prior to independence when the blue, yellow and green horizontal tricolour was adopted.
Ralph Kelly, 05 Dec 2022

Flag of the Governor-General of Anglo-Egyptian Sudan

Image by Jaume Ollé, 03 Oct 1999

The Governor-General of Anglo-Egyptian Sudan's personal flag when afloat was the Union Jack with the standard white disc and laurel leaf garland and the words
on the white disc as no Arms or badge existed for the Condominium.
David Prothero, 30 September 1999

Flags of the Mahdi

G.W. Stevens in his With Kitchener to Khartoum refers to a few Mahdist flags. At the battle of Omdurman, he mentions the "black banner of the Kahlifa's brother" and the "blue and white banners of his son". Khalifa Abduallah el Taashi was successor to the Mahdi. War artist H.C. Seppings Wright (who was at the battle of Ombdurman, I think) has done a painting of the aftermath of the massacre in which the dead Mahdists are still holding upright the Kahlifa's black flag.
T.F. Mills, 06 Aug 1996

Image by Mark Sensen, 06 Aug 1996

Image by Mark Sensen, 06 Aug 1996

I have a copy of a letter dated 11 September 1952 from the Sudan Government Civil Secretary's Office, Public Relations Branch to Dr Ottried Neubecker with a drawing of the Mahdists' flag hoisted over the party headquarters.  The standard version of the flag is a horizontal black-red-green tricolour  with a white crescent (pointing upward) and spear overall in the center. Another version had the crescent and spear in the black stripe at the fly.
Mark Sensen, 06 Aug 1996

"Le Quotidien du Pharmacien", 20 February 2006, has a report entitled "Dans le nord du Soudan - Sur les traces des pharaons noirs" (In the north of Sudan - On the steps of the black pharaohs". The report ends with a quote from a traveler from the XIIIth century (therefore long after the pharaohs!):

"Dongola has seven impregnable stone walls, wide streets, churches with frescos and paintings on fabric. The king's house is very high, with red brick domes. His Majesty has a white flag charged with the cross and excellent horses; its army uses russet dromedaries."

Dongola, aka Dunqulah, is located on the Nile, 500 km north-north-east of Khartoum; it is the capital city of the province of Ash-Shamaliyah (North).

The aforementioned article gives also details on the Mahdi, whose flags are shown above.

Muhammad Ahmad ibn Abd Allah (1844-1885) proclaimed himself the Mahdi in 1881. In the Islamic tradition, the Mahdi, lit., the Well Guided, shall be sent by God at the end of the times to restore faith and justice on the Earth. The Mahdi stirred up the country against "the infidel foreigners" (the British) and "the impious Turks". General Charles Gordon (1833-1885, aka Gordon Pasha), Governor of Sudan in 1877-1880 was called back from Britain to restore law and order. He was surrounded and killed in Khartoum in 1885. The Mahdi died six months later.

Twelve years later, Britain sent an expedition involving 25,000 men in order to control the Nile and to get rid of the Caliphate, a self-proclaimed religious and military dictatorship of Mahdist origin. The expedition was related by Winston Churchill in his book "The River War". The British armies defeated the Mahdists in Omdurman and Atbara. Lord Herbert Kitchener (1850-1916) was ordered to exhume the Mahdi's body and to behead it. The head was sent to Queen Victoria, who was offended by the present.
Ivan Sache, 21 February 2006

Lado enclave (1894 - 1906)

Image by Jaume Ollé, 19 Nov 1996

The Lado territory was a British possession which the British government rented to the Congo Free State in 1894. It was returned to Sudan in 1910.
Jaume Ollé, 19 Nov 996

The flag of the 1924 revolt

Image by Jaume Ollé, 03 Oct 1999

The flag of the 1924 revolt is white with the Egyptian flag in canton showing a map of the White Nile, Blue Nile and Atbara rivers in the fly. The flag was used by the nationalist movement called "White Flag League" which was very active in the 1920s (Source : Yuri Kurasov in Flaggenmitteilung 29 [fml].
Jaume Ollé, 03 Oct 1999