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Early Mongol flags

Last modified: 2017-11-11 by victor lomantsov
Keywords: mongol | chinghiz-khan | falcon | crow |
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Mongol Flag, circa 1310

[Mongol flag, circa 1310] by Phil Nelson

This flag is shown in Znamierowski's World Encyclopedia of Flags.
Phil Nelson, 18 February 2000

Flag of Chinghiz-khan

Modern 'scientists' have very many reconstructions of flag of Chinghiz-khan but all they are very doubtful. Ancient chronicles says about white and black banners of Chinghiz-khan with 9 tails. White colours was sacred in that times. Black colour was the colour of gods of death. May be it was real horse`s tails. May be it was cloth banner with 9 tails. The number of tails was showed the rank of commander. The symbol of Chinghiz-khan was a falcon with a crow in his claws. Poor ancestor of Chinghiz, Boduanchar, was the hunter. He made his job with tamed falcon. Source. V.Jan, novel 'Batu-khan' Mongol scientists think that the falcon was the main element of the white banner of Hiad-borjigin tribe (E.Har-Davan "Chinghis the Commander and His Successors"), father-tribe of Chinghiz-khan.
Victor Lomantsov, 22 April 2001

Flags of Mongol Empire

[Mongol flag] by Nozomi Kariyasu

[Mongol flag] by Nozomi Kariyasu

Scaned images of three flags (two different flags) from photo of 700th anniversary of birth of Mongol Empire Festival in Mongolia 2006. They used two flags:
1 blue triangle bearing white bird with red fringe
2 blue rectangle bearing white flame sun and moon like a part of soyombo with three red long tails.
Nozomi Kariyasu, 7 October 2006

[Mongol Empire Flag] by Eugene Ipavec

Mongol Empire Flag - white horse on blue rectangle flag. Image made after Nozomi Kariyasu photos made in Mongolian Military Museum in Uran Bator in June 2008.

[Mongol Empire Flag, XIV c] by Eugene Ipavec

Mongol Empire Flag, XIV c. - white bird on blue triangle flag. Image made after Nozomi Kariyasu photos made in Mongolian Military Museum in Uran Bator in June 2008.

[Mongol Empire Flag] by Eugene Ipavec

Mongol Empire Flag - yellow flame, sun and cresent on blue rectangle flag. Image made after Nozomi Kariyasu photos made in Mongolian Military Museum in Uran Bator in June 2008.

[Mongol Empire Flag] by Eugene Ipavec

Mongol Empire Flag - white flame, sun and crescent on blue triangle. Image made after Nozomi Kariyasu photos made in Mongolian Military Museum in Uran Bator in June 2008.

Another Mongol Empire Flag from Mongolian Military Museum - white bird on blue triangle.

Historical flags from Mongolian Empire festival book

Several flags from book:
"On-the-spot report of celebration ceremony in Mongolia"
Publisher: Huihueng Group Hongkong
Editor: 牧人 No English available on the book
Number of pages: 162
Size of the book: 27 cm X 26cm X 2.5 cm
ISBN: Not available
Date of publishment: Jun 2006

To celebrate 800th anniversary of rise of Mongol Empire Phoenix TV Hoingkong made documentary programme of Genghis Khan's festival in Mongolia and at the same time published the book. Chinese title cannot be found among Japanese-Chinese character. I bought this book in Ulan Bator. They call Gengis Khan rera flag as Sulde flags.
Nozomi Kariyasu, 26 August 2008. Images below:

[Festival book flag] by Eugene Ipavec

Gold bow arrow on blue triangle flag.

[Festival book flag] by Eugene Ipavec

Gold horse on blue triangle flag.

[Festival book flag] by Eugene Ipavec

Gold bird on blue triangle flag.

[Festival book flag] by Eugene Ipavec

Two white horses on blue rectangle flag.

[Festival book flag] by Eugene Ipavec

Soyonbo variant.

Flags in Catalan Atlas, 1375

In the Catalan Atlas, the distribution of flags of four main Mongol khanates is based mostly on the "Book of Marco Polo" and "Libro del conoscimiento de los reinos". In some cases, the flags above the cities are not the correct ones, considering the then state boundaries. It might be discussed if these flags were really used, although they might be partly based on real-life informations. Although other classifications are also possible (as noted below), all the flags are classified here as Mongolian, because the rulers of three western khanates were nominally vassals of the Grand Khan and the state boundaries generally do not allow identification of a khanate with a single modern state.

Description of the flags see below. Sources:
[1] Polo, Marco: Milion (Original title: Il Milione di Marco Polo) Zagreb: Mladost, 1954
[2] Enciclopedia universal ilustrada, vol. XXI, Espan~a Madrid: Espasa-Calpe S.A., 1968
[3] Istorija otkric'a i istraz<ivanja, vol. I: Poc<etak istraz<ivanja; Mladinska knjiga, Ljubljana, 1979; Original title: A History of Discovery and Exploration, vol. I: The Search Begins;(C) 1973 Aldus Books Limited, London
[4] Web page about Guyuan, Hebei (in Italian):
[5] "Book of Marco Polo" at Biblioteca Italiana (in Italian):\3
[6] Wikipedia page about the Timurid dynasty:
[7] Libro del Conoscimiento. Viajes medievales, vol. I Madrid: Fundacio'n Jose' Antonio de Castro, 2005 ISBN 84-96452-11-5 (complete edition) ISBN 84-96452-12-3 (vol. I) [e9s50]
[8] Apendices. (Ibid.)
[9] Complete photo of the Catalan Atlas at Wikimedia Commons:
[10] Catalan Atlas - image of the part showing central Asia:
Tomislav Todorovic, 21 April 2007

This book in our Biliography as [c2q75]:
Title: Mapamundi vol dir aytant com ymage del món … Medium: chart
Languages: Catalan; Latin
* Cresques Abraham / כרשכש אַבְרָהָם;
* Jafudŕ Cresques / כרשכש יְהוּדָה / Jehudŕ Cresques /
Jaume Ribes
Title in English: Mapamundi, image of the world and of the regions there are on Earth and the various peoples which inhabit it
Publisher: Corona de Aragó: Palma de Mallorca
Date: 1375
Edition: 1st
Height: 65 cm
Width: 50 cm
Pages: 6
Remarks: So called “Catalan Atlas” or “Charles Quint Atlas”.
António Martins-Tuválkin, 23 April 2007

Empire of the Grand Khan

[Grans Khan flag] by Tomislav Todorovic

The silver flag with engrailed fly, charged with three red crescents, is hoisted above numerous cities held by the Grand Khan. The name of the country, Cathay (spelled Catayo), is also inscribed on the map (so the flag might be classified as Chinese, too). The cities with the flag which can easily be identified are [1, 2, 3]: Cambaluc (spelled Chambalech), Grand Khan's capital (present-day Beijing); Zayton (present-day Quanzhou, Fujian province), the port from which Marco Polo eventually left China; Lop, off the Lop Nor lake, the westernmost city held by the Grand Khan; Camul (spelled Camull; present-day Khamil or Hami, in Xinjiang autonomous region), Sindaciu (spelled Sinacius; present-day Xuanhua, Hebei province) and Ciagannor (spelled Ciagamor; present-day Guyuan, Hebei province [4]), the cities which Marco Polo passed through on the way from Lop to Cambaluc; and Fugui, which might be a misspelling of Fugiu (Fuzhou, Fujian province [5]) - although there is also a city of Fugio (without the flag), Fugui is the one whose location seems to better correspond to the real city. About the flag itself, there seems to be no evidence that the Grand Khan had really used a flag with such design: it seems to be more appropriate to some of other khanates, whose rulers and their Mongol subjects had converted to Islam by the time when the Catalan Atlas was made. In Wikipedia, a black flag with three red discs, which is shown as the Timurid flag [6], seems to be erroneously derived from the Grand Khan's flag described here, whose silver field has darkened by age to almost black and crescents are no longer easy to be recognized as such. Nevertheless, all this seems to speak in favour of the suggestion that a flag of a Muslim khanate might have been attributed to the Grand Khan by the mapmaker.
Tomislav Todorovic, 21 April 2007

Ilkhanate of Persia

[Persia flag]

[Persia flag] by Tomislav Todorovic

The golden flag with the red square in centre is in fact the flag of Persia from the "Libro del conoscimiento de los reinos" [7] (so it might also be classified as Iranian). In the Catalan Atlas [2, 9], it is shown with engrailed fly, except above the city of Hormuz (spelled Hormissiom), where it is rectangular. Of other cities with the flag, those easy to identify are Kerman (spelled Creman), Qeshm (spelled Chesi), Bukhara (spelled Bocar) and Samarkand (spelled Samarchanti), although the last two were actually in the Chagatai Khanate. Curiously, Tabriz, the capital of Ilkhanate, is not shown in the map, although the Il Khan himself is depicted as "King of Tabriz" ("Rey del Tauris").
Tomislav Todorovic, 21 April 2007

Chagatai Khanate

[Chagatai flag]

[Chagatai flag] by Tomislav Todorovic

The flag of this khanate, whose ruler Kebek ("Lo rey Chabech") is depicted in the map, is white with a gold square in centre. It has engrailed fly, except above a city called Baldassia [2, 9, 10], where it is rectangular. Of other cities with the flag, those easy to identify are Khotan (spelled Cotani) and "Many cities built by Alexander the Great", in present-day Afghanistan and Tajikistan, which are represented by two cities only [2]. Unlike other Mongol flags in the map, this one is always shown with the sinister hoist (in the attached images as well). The design might be a combination of those of two flags from "Libro del conoscimiento de los reinos": the flag of Persia (see above) and a silver flag with a gold vertical stripe, which was attributed to the "Empire of Almalik" ("Imperio de Armalec"), named after a city, nowadays ruined, in Xinjiang, China, but said to have held northeastern parts of India as well; that flag was also attributed to several Indian states, most notably Sultanate of Delhi ("Reinado de Delini") [7, 8].
Tomislav Todorovic, 21 April 2007

Golden Horde

[Golden Horde flag] by Tomislav Todorovic

This flag has engrailed fly and two red charges on silver field (which was almost blackened by age until present time). One of the charges is a crescent and the other looks like a simplified form of the tamga from the flag of Idel Ural. On different copies of the flag, the crescent has different size and shape; it is often more straightened than shown here, sometimes even reduced into a simple oblique stroke, nearly conjoined with the other charge into a single symmetrical object; the other charge also sometimes lacks the oblique part or the top ring [2, 3, 9]. It was obviously difficult to draw the charges always the same way. The cities with this flag which are easy to identify are [2, 7, 8]: Sarai, the capital (spelled Sarra) - there is also a depiction of the ruler, "Jani Beg Lord of Sarai" ("Jambech senyor de Sarra"); Tana, present-day Azov, Russia; and Urgench, Uzbekistan (spelled Organci, with a cedilla under the c; nowadays ruined). This flag is a variant of the flag of "Emperor of Sarai" ("Emperador de Sara") from "Libro del conoscimiento de los reinos" [7] and might be the one that had really existed, considering the similarity of its charges with those from the flag of Idel Ural.
Tomislav Todorovic, 14 November 2015