This page is part of © FOTW Flags Of The World website

Myanmar (Burma): 1948-1974

Last modified: 2019-01-04 by zachary harden
Keywords: myanmar | burma | peacock | star: white | stars: 6 | federalist party of burma |
Links: FOTW homepage | search | disclaimer and copyright | write us | mirrors



[1948 Flag of Burma] 5:9
Image by Zachary Harden, 4 December 2018

See also:


Overview

The 1948 flag of Burma is red with a blue canton containing one large white star and five small white stars around it. The older flag of Burma (taken from a book published in the early 1960's) has also been shown as all red with a gold star in the upper left and five smaller stars arrayed around it.
Dipesh Navsaria
, 2 April 1996

The big star was meant for the Union, and 5 smaller stars were for 5 states. This is the first flag of the independent modern Burma (Myanmar), which was adopted with the Constitution of 24 September
1947 and was proudly first hoisted at 4:25 a.m., 4th January 1948.
Dov Gutterman
, 30 July 2000

This is the flag of independence ('Union of Burma, Chans and Karens'), the first national flag. The largest star in canton recalled the flag used by the Anti-Fascist League of Burmese People, a red field with a white star in canton. The five smaller stars, white for honesty, represent the five main ethnic groups: Burmese, Chans, Karens, Chins, and Kachins.
Ivan Sache
, 28 January 2001

Evans (1970) wrote that "Burma" "based its new flag on the emblem used by the resistance movement during the Japanese occupation. Its national flag is red, with a blue canton on which appears a large white star surrounded by five smaller stars.
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 6 July 2002

A picture in the NY Times today from AFP shows "Opponents of Burma's government demonstrat[ing] in Seoul, South Korea, yesterday." They are holding a six-starred (1948-1974) flag. I assume they want to return to the old flag.
Nathan Lamm, 4 June 2003

Specifications

The proportions of 5:9 with a canton occupying half the width of the flag and in a ratio of 5:8 was laid down for this design by Section 215 of the 1947 Constitution which stated that "The dimensions of the Flag shall be nine feet by five feet, and the canton shall be four feet by two and a half feet".
Christopher Southworth, 19 January 2007

There is one thing that is not quite certain from the text description - the position of the smaller stars. I set them so that the centers of the circles circumscribing them are located on the circle circumscribing the large star (which is centered in the center of the canton, of course).
Željko Heimer, 19 January 2007

I found an English translation of the 1947 Constitution that talks about the national flag at the time. It answers the questions of where the stars are placed (somewhat) and the size of them were laid out in the text. The text, as follows:

"CHAPTER XIII. General Provisions. 215. The National Flag shall be rectangular in shape and red in colour with a canton of dark blue. In the canton shall be a five-pointed large white star with five smaller similar stars between the points. One of the five points of each star, large or small, shall direct upwards. The dimensions of the Flag shall be nine feet by five feet and the canton shall be four feet by two and a half feet. The size of the large star shall be such that a circle draw through the five points shall have a diameter of eighteen inches and the smaller stars nine inches. National Flags of other sizes shall conform as nearly as possible to the above proportions."
Zachary Harden, 15 November 2018

A document showing the protocol on using the flag does not answer the question precisely. From what I understand, the smaller stars are tucked into the gaps of the bigger star at 72-degree angles and the invisible pentagon around the big star serves as a guide of where to place the smaller stars.
Zachary Harden, 4 December 2018


Former civil/merchant ensign

[1952 Civil/Merchant Ensign of Burma] 5:9
Image by Zachary Harden, 4 December 2018

The former civil/merchant ensign of Burma was adopted in 1952 and, as far as I know, it continued in use until 1974 when the current flag was adopted - confirmation or correction of that date would be welcome. This drawing is based on the illustration in Pedersen, 1971.
Vincent Morley
, 23 April 1997

I do not have any contemporary sources from Burma for this specific flag, yet I do have a contemporary source from the former Soviet Union. From the book/standard I have "GOST 8498-73 - Flagi Morskie" (pg. 89), it details this flag as "merchant" and gives not only a color drawing but a schematic on how to make the flag in various sizes. It does show the flag as a 5x8.89 (close to the 5x9 ratio) with the drawings so I have confidence that this flag did exist in reality.
Zachary Harden, 4 December 2018


Government Ensign 1952-1974

[1952 Government Ensign of Burma] 5:9
Image by Zachary Harden, 4 December 2018

Used from 1952 to 1974 by vessels in Government service other than warships.
Ivan Sache, 2 May 2002


Former War Ensign

[Former War Ensign of Myanmar] 5:9
Image by Zachary Harden, 4 December 2018

White ensign with arms in blue canton.

Ivan Sache, 29 January 1998

I have a 1954 edition of Jane's Fighting Ships, which shows three flags (in black and white line drawings) for Burma:

  1. The President's Standard: a peacock proper, in full plumage, centred on a saffron field (the colour of the field is noted in the text).
  2. The Naval Ensign: the canton is made up of six 5-pointed stars; white in colour, centred on a blue field. One of the stars is in the very centre of the field, and is much larger than the other 5, (roughly 2+ times the size of the others). All the stars are oriented with a single point up, and 2 points downward. The 5 smaller stars are placed around the large central star, at roughly the 1 o'clock, 4 o'clock, 6 o'clock, 8 o'clock, and 11 o'clock positions, (i.e., centred in-between the 5 arms of the large central star). The rest of the ensign is identical to the British White Ensign, (i.e., a red Cross of St George, upon a white field).
  3. The National Flag; (Mercantile Ensign?): The canton is as for the Naval Ensign; the field is plain red.
Glen Robert-Grant Hodgins, 30 March 1998

I was able to confirm through a video from Thai vexillologist Mai Lertrattipong that this flag indeed exists. From the 1960 (BE 2503) state visit to Burma by the late Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama 9), this ensign can be seen on a warship that was protecting King Bhumibol and President Win Maung (both were on the "Maykhalar").
Zachary Harden, 4 December 2018


Former Air Force Ensign

[Former Air Force Ensign of Myanmar] 5:9
Image by Zachary Harden, 4 December 2018

See also: current air force ensign

Light blue field with national flag in canton and the roundel (blue-white-gold triangle) at the lower fly. Sources: Fachinger (1974), Pedersen (1970).
Marcus Schmöger
, 11 November 2001

In use 1952-1974. The flag is based on the British model.
Ivan Sache, 2 May 2002

Variant/Possible Air Force Ensign

[Former Air Force Ensign of Myanmar] 5:9
Image by Zachary Harden, 4 December 2018

I believe there might have been an early variant of the air force ensign. On a Burmese Facebook page there is an old record cover that shows the flags of the three armed services (Army, Navy and Air Force). This cover shows the six-star pattern of the national flag on a light blue background (presumably) with the roundel in the fly (the pattern for that we see to this day). Did this flag exist in cloth? I have no evidence if it has (along with the army flag on this cover). However, seeing information like this from Burma during this time frame is not easy to get.
Zachary Harden, 4 December 2018


Possible Army Flag

[Former Air Force Ensign of Myanmar] 5:9
Image by Zachary Harden, 4 December 2018

I believe there might have been an early variant. On a Burmese Facebook page there is an old record cover that shows the flags of the three armed services (Army, Navy and Air Force). This cover shows a tri-bar of red/blue/red with a white star in the center (presumably). Did this flag exist in cloth? I have no evidence if it has (along with the air force flag on this cover). However, seeing information like this from Burma during this time frame is not easy to get.
Zachary Harden, 4 December 2018