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Fictional/Erroneous Flags (Thailand)

Last modified: 2011-08-26 by Zachary Harden
Keywords: thailand | elephant |
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Erroneous Flag at Thailand/Myanmar Regional Meeting, 2006

[Erroneous Thai Flag at Thailand/Myanmar Regional Meeting, 2006] image by Eugene Ipavec

As seen in a Wikipedia photo of the signing of a memorandum of understanding on Thailand/Myanmar cross-border cooperation, during a June 2006 Regional Border Committee meeting in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The Trairanga in the photo clearly has equal stripes. Vaguely reminiscent of the infamous French thin-stripe presidental flag, though this is almost certainly unintentional, probably the consequence of a manufacturing error.

Note, however, a similarity to the 1910-1917 Civil Ensign.
Eugene Ipavec
, 27 Mar 2007

This is not all that unusual for Thai flags. I'm in Thailand a good bit and see Thai flags in all sorts of sizes that have equal-width stripes. Officially it's not correct, but Thailand is one of those situations where if the basic design is in place, that's enough. It's also not uncommon to see a really wide variety of blue coloring used in Thai flags. I have seen flags with blue stripes as light as UN blue. They weren't faded. It was simply the color that the manufacturer chose to use on that day.
Clay Moss
, 28 Mar 2007

Flags in the Movie "The King and I"

I recently watched the remake of The King and I (was that the original English title?). Many flags could be seen in the movie, the most frequent being of course the pre-1916 Siamese flag of red with a white elephant. The King (Mongkut or Rama IV, as he was designated long after his death) and the Crown Prince (the future Chulalongkorn or Rama V) themselves give an explanation to Anna Leonowens of the meaning of the flag, "red is for courage, white for compassion; the white elephant is a very rare species and hence a sign of good luck and an excellent present". Actually later in the film the King needs to disseminate the purported appearance of a white elephant, and everybody in Bangkok is shown waving small national flags.

At the royal palace and in royal processions, the national flag is only shown flanking the king. The most common flag shown in palace is a red triangular flag with a golden border with flammules. The bottom side is horizontal, like in other ancient Far Eastern royal flags. However, once or twice other triangular flags with flammules are shown (this time white flags with multicoloured designs and flammules) with a horizontal upper side. Maybe this is a mistake?

During a night party in palace, the only flag displayed is dark blue with a red border on all sides. This could well be 1891-1910 Royal Flag, wrongly attributed to a former date (the action takes place in the early 1860s).

Finally, as the royal family is fleeing to a refuge in the jungle using a ship, this displays the national flag on the mizzenmast but as ensign it carries a blue flag with a white (and as far as my eyes could tell, not caparisoned) elephant [similar to the Flag on State Buildings].
Santiago Dotor
, 17 Jan 2000

That movie is pure entertainment and that's all – there was no Chinese Community by the City Wall (the Chinese live in Sampheng-Yaowarat area which is outside the city wall), Wat Phrakaeo has no Buddhist monks (except during Royal Buddhist ceremonies) etc. Therefore, it is quite moronic to beleive that "red is for courage, white for compassion". The white elephant reference is quite close to the actual meaning. White elephants are auspecious creatures which are bounded to the life of kings. If the elephants died (in the case of the only white elephants during his reign), it meant that the king passed away or forever lost his power to rule the country.

The flag waving is quite a modern thing that never appear[ed] during the reign of King Mongkut and King Chulalongkorn even though some degree of Thai nationalism began to emerge. As for other flags (triangular flags), they are merely signs to the subjects that the king is coming. Ajarn Phaothong Thongjuea is a Thai professor who worked as a consultant for 20th Century Fox for this movie and might give further explanations.
Wisarut Bholsithi
, 17 Jan 2000

Flag in Principal Nations of the World Flag Chart, 1837

[Erroneous Flag in 1837 Flag Chart (Thailand)] image by Francisco Gregoric, Željko Heimer and Eugene Ipavec

The Flags of the Principal Nations of the World 1837 flag chart, printed by Hinnman and Dutton, shows Siam with a red field and a white disk in the center. Upon the white disk is a simple drawing of a sun with a face upon it. The identical sun drawing appears in the canton of the flag of Uruguay, to the hoist side of the central white stripe of the flag of Buenos Ayres (sic) and in the middle of the vertical red-white-red flag of Peru. I would not judge the Siam drawing to be authentic as it differs from Crampton's description. The flag next to Siam in my chart is Burma – a red field with a white elephant facing the fly. If anyone has a copy of Norie and Hobbs 1848 (or the German reprint, Norie and Hobbs 1971) they should check Siam out.
Nick Artimovich
, 3 Apr 1998

Fictional/Erroneous Flag in Novel "Swallows and Amazons"

[Fictional/Erroneous Flag in Arthur Ransome Novel (Thailand)] image by Jaume Ollé and Eugene Ipavec

I'm chairman of fan club of British writer Arthur Ransome. In one of his books is written:

"Just look at his flag", said Roger, who, as usual, was at his post in the bows. They had passed the point, and could see into Houseboat Bay. There lay the hauseboat, moored to her big barrel buoy, and on her little flagstaff of a mast, accustomed to carry the red ensign, was a large and most unusual flag, blowing out finely in the wind. It was green flag, and in the middle of it was a huge white elephant. The Houseboat Man, Captain Flint, had dug it out for the occasion.

"I know what it is", said John. "It's the Siamese flag."

"Ive seen it before", said Mate Peggy. "He brought it back from the East last year".

I searched for flag like this, but the only similar is the flag of the province Nakhon Nayok. But the story is from the year 1929, and I suppose this flag is much newer. Do you know about some suitable flag with a green background and a white elephant, or it is the mistake of author? I find only flags with red, blue or three colour background.
Miroslav Vaverka, 23 Jul 2005

Miroslav mentions fruitlessly searching the Thai historical pages for a green flag I did this myself, so the green elephant flag is a mystery. Possibly it was an invention of the author's; on the other hand it is remotely possible that he had himself bought such a flag (made for tourists perhaps?) while in Bangkok.
Mike Oettle
, 29 May 2008