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Afghanistan October 1978 - April 1980

Democratic Republic of Afghanistan, Da Afghanistan Jamburiat Demokratik

Last modified: 2022-07-30 by ian macdonald
Keywords: afghanistan | wreath | star (yellow) | text: pashto | coat of arms | khalq | da saur enklab 1317 | sawr revolution |
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[Afghanistan 1978-1980] 1:2 image located by Zachary Harden, 4 March 2012
Source: Banner of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan ((1978/10/18) 1357/07/26)

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I believe this may have been the only version of the Afghani national flag which did not feature black in its design until the Taliban's white banner came into use.
Daniel S. Padovano
, 1 November 1997

The writing on the red flag [خلق] is pronounced Khalq meaning Masses. It is an Arabic word incorporated into the Dari and Pashtu languages. Khalq was the party that overthrew the Republic in 1973. Its two party and government leaders were Nur Muhammad Taraki and then Hafizullah Amin. After the Soviets invaded the country in December 1979, the flag changed back to the tricolor pattern.
Mir Hekmatullah Sadat
, 6 May 1999

A horizontal version of this flag is pictured in Smith 1981 with the emblem centered near the top of the flag.
Marcus Wendel
, 6 September 1999

According to Baert 2001, on 17 July 1973 Zahir Shah's cousin, Prince Mohammed Daoud, overthrew the King (...) and the Republic was proclaimed. Daoud was initially supported by Soviet Union, which was the first country to recognize the new Republic. On 27 April 1978, however, a coup overthrew Daoud and Afghanistan became a Marxist-Leninist state. Daoud was killed in his palace during the coup.

The new regime initially used the Republican flag, but without the emblem. New symbols were adopted on 19 October 1978. The national flag, also used as state and war flag, was a 1:2 red flag with a yellow Soviet-like emblem in the canton. Red symbolized the fight against imperialism, feudality and all other kinds of oppression.

The arms included the Pashtu word خلق (Khalq, the People), surrounded with a wreath of wheat spikes. The spikes were linked with a red scroll bearing in gold Da Afghanistan Jamburiat Demokratik (The Democratic Republic of Afghanistan) and Da Saur Enklab 1317 (The Revolution of April 1978). The five-pointed star placed on the top of the emblem symbolized the five nations of the country.

The flag was not welcomed by the Afghans since it did not include the traditional colours of the country. It was abolished on 21 April 1980. On 27 December 1979, the Soviet Army invaded Afghanistan. The new leader, Babrak Karmal, promised on January 1980 to re-establish the Islamic green on the national flag.

The image in Baert 2001 is similar to the one above.
Ivan Sache
, 12 April 2002

The April 1978 revolution in which the communists seized power is known in Afghanistan as the Sawr Revolution, because that was the month by the Afghan solar (not Islamic lunar) calendar in which it occurred. I would assume that the Sawr flag must have been one of the flags flown during the communist period.
Joe McMillan, 2 December 2005

[Afghanistan 1978-1980] 1:2 image located by Zachary Harden, 4 March 2012

At is "Decree 2-13 Banner of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan ((1978/10/18) 1357/07/26)". On page 1 of the PDF document (Pashtun), it shows the flag when it is reversed on a flag pole. The coat of arms is shown correctly like it would be on the observe of the flag. One key thing about the coat of arms is that, like that shown on a stamp the star has little cut outs in the middle that are the same red color of the flag. Page two has the details of the flag, but since I cannot read Pashtun, it would have to be translated by someone else.

[Afghanistan 1978-1980] 1:2 image located by Zachary Harden, 4 March 2012

The last thing about this decree is that a vertical variant is officially established on page 22 of the PDF. The coat of arms is placed in the center, but is placed slightly down the banner from the top.
Zachary Harden, 4 March 2012

Rendition on Afghan stamp

[Afghanistan 1978-1980] 1:2 image by António Martins-Tuválkin and Peter Laursen, 22 January 2008

However, the coat of arms depicted on this flag [at the top of this page] (based on a common source, Baert (2001), or possibly Smith (1975b)) differs in some details from the arms presented below. This coat of arms, including the black draw lines (which are doubtful for such a flag), is shown in an Afghan stamp at The image as shown on the stamp is sinister hoisted.

While Afghan (official) stamps show many variants of the flag of October 1978 - April 1980 (see and Richard Mallett's Flags on Stamps Web Site at, this one stamp consists of a large flat depiction, of the kind which usually convey specifications, even if often wrong. In this case, the flag is not 1:2 but 3:5, the emblem is set on the hoist but just a bit off set upwards (not really on the corner), and there are black draw lines. An officially sanctioned (though not necessarily authoritative and perhaps even mistaken) variant of a short-lived national flag.
António Martins-Tuválkin, 22 January 2008


[Afghanistan Sep.1928-Jan.1929, coat-of-arms]
(Click on image to see full size detail)
by Peter Laursen

Green flag?

Another flag might existed here. According to some contemporary news reports, the 1978-1980 red flag was replaced in late 1979 by a similar one with a green field, some time after the coup d'etat in which Hafizullah Amin replaced Nur Muhammad Taraki as the head of state and party, and that flag was replaced with the tricolor flag in 1980.

I have seen no online vexillological sources so far which would support the existence of a green flag in 1979-1980, but do remember having read several times about it, although I never saw any photo.
Tomislav Todorovic, 17 December 2014

Variant without text

[Afghanistan 1978-1980] image by BlinxCat, 1 June 2022

This variant of the 1978-1980 flag was produced by the Annin flag company, while they made full-sized versions of the flag appearing more "normal" and accurate to its specifications, the table flags and smaller flags on the other hand always lacked the text within the scroll on the bottom of the emblem, I'm unsure if this was to make the flag appear more simplified and avoiding the flag looking less cluttered but it seemed to have removed an important part of the emblem.
BlinxCat, 1 June 2022