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Egypt in Ottoman Empire

Last modified: 2011-06-11 by ian macdonald
Keywords: ottoman | khedive | crescent (white) | crescents: 3 | star: 7 points (white) | stars: 3 (white) | mameluk |
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Old flags from uncertain sources

[Flag of Egypt in XIXth century?] image by Mario Fabretto

The knowledge of old Turkish flags isn't very clear even if we know that a lot of flags were used. This flag is quite common on flag books and charts from the middle of 18th century and until the middle of the 19th century. Among them I remember Norie and Hobbs (1848) [noh48], Rosenfeld (1883), Flaggen Almanack (ca. 1844). The flag didn't appear on Le Gras (1858) so I think that its use ended in the first half of the 19th century. The only thing we can say is that flags with many stripes and irregular shape were quite common for the merchant ships sailing from north African ports. From many captured flags we also know that similar flags were used on land also, but with different colors and arrangements. The particular use of them is obscure.
Mario Fabretto
, 13 July 1997

I read that the green, yellow, green triband is the traditional flag of the Mameluks. The Mameluks were defeated by Bonaparte (1798), but came back after some years (1808) and were again defeated and massacred by Mehmed Ali (1 March 1811). The greater part of the Mameluks were ethnical Cherkess.
Jaume Ollé
, 9 July 1997

I found in my old (1884) atlas:
Egypt: Horizontal tricolor with three equal stripes green, yellow, green.
Josh Fruhlinger
, 11 May1996

[Flag of Egypt in 1711 book] image by Tomislav Todorovic, 22 December 2008

In the flag chart created by Dutch cartographer Pieter Schenk in 1711, which was published in the atlas by Guillaume Delisle of France in 1730 (reissued in 1739 as the "Nouvel atlas" by Covens & Mortier of Amsterdam), Egypt is represented by a green-yellow-green horizontal triband, which is titled "Mamelik". This "Mamluk" flag is grouped with those of the Ottoman Empire, reflecting the then political status of Egypt. It is obviously the predecessor of the similar flag of Egypt from the 19th century, from which it differs by simpler shape.
Source: Allen, Phillip, The Atlas of Atlases, London: Bounty Books, 2005, ISBN-13 978-0-7537-1311-2
Tomislav Todorovic, 22 December 2008

[Flag of Egypt in 1899?] image by Chris Young

The "Egyptian" flag, from a copy of People's Atlas of the World published in April 1899 (almost exactly 100 years ago) by Mast, Crowell & Kirkpatrick of Springfield, Ohio. The very first page is a color chart of "Flags of Various Nations".
Chris Young, 26 March 1999

[Flag of Egypt before 1889?] image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 18 September 2006

On page is a nice collection of national flags, US states and territories, city flags and naval flags. These are the Allen & Ginter's Cigarette Cards, nos. 9, 10, 11 and 17. Most are as expected for contemporary information, and allow us to date the series as not-earlier-than 1885 and perhaps even 1889. The flag for Egypt is a red flag with a white crescent pointing to the fly.
António Martins-Tuválkin, 18 September 2006

All 50 Player's cigarettes 1905 cards of the series "Countries Arms & Flags" are on line at For Egypt, it shows an Ottoman flag (but with a five-pointed star in the coat of arms):
António Martins-Tuválkin, 22 February 2007

[Flag of Egypt in 1858 flag chart] image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 8 September 2008

Published in A Chart of National Flags (1858), a plain green flag with a white smallish (half-height) “banana”-style crescent.
António Martins-Tuválkin, 8 September 2008

Ottoman flag in the XIXth century

National flag, XIXth century image by Željko Heimer

"The Ottoman flag in the XIXth century normally bore a white star and crescent on its red field."
Quoted from Whitney Smith [smi75c] by Nick Artimovich, 23 April 1996

National flag, XIXth century image by Martin Grieve, 11 January 2008

Page 73 of Flags of Maritime Nations shows the Egyptian flag at that time, but I was lead to believe that this was essentially the Turkish flag (Smith 1975). There is a distinct difference in the design of the devices which are centrally positioned on a 2:3? flag. This appears to be deliberate as the Turkish flag from the same source is the same as today's contemporary version, or so it would seem at a glance.
Martin Grieve, 11 January 2008

Khedive flag

[Flag of Khedive of Egypt] image by Željko Heimer

"Muhammad Ali did introduce one distinctive new flag which eventually became the first real Egyptian national flag. Perhaps to symbolize the victory of his armies in 3 continents (Europe, Asia, and Africa) or his own sovereignty over Egypt, Nubia, and the Sudan, Ali set three white crescents and three stars on a red field. (...) In 1882, Egyptian nationalists, seeking to take leadership in their own land by deposing the khedive, provided the pretext Britain sought for occupying the country. A promise was made that Her Majesty's troops would leave "as soon as the state of the country and the organization of proper means for the maintenance of the Khedivial authority will admit of it. "

Quoted from Whitney Smith [smi75c] by Nick Artimovich, 23 April 1996

This flag was the personal standard of the Khedive.

Josh Fruhlinger, 13 February 1996

The red flag with three crescents and stars, may have had a wider use than purely by the Khedive. I believe Kitchener's 1898 Anglo-Egyptian expedition to the Sudan carried it (along with the Union Jack of course!)

Roy Stilling, 14 February 1996