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Flag c.1656-1782 (Thailand)

Civil and State Ensign c.1656-1782, Civil Ensign 1782-1855

Last modified: 2023-06-03 by zachary harden
Keywords: siam | plain (red) |
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[Siam ca.1656-1782, civil ensign 1782-1855 (Thailand)] ca.1656-1782 | 1782-1855 |
image by Santiago Dotor and Zachary Harden, 10 April 2018

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Not all flag books are in agreement on when the various flags of Siam/Thailand were introduced. According to Crampton, the first flag of Thailand was red with a white chakra (...). Some sources state that the first flag was a plain red field. Sources: Crampton 1992; Jos Poels 1990; Crampton 1991.

From contributions by
Roy Stilling, 21 Feb 1996
Jan Oskar Engene, 3 Oct 1996
Mark Sensen, 3 Mar 1997

From the Singha Beer source:

According to historical records, from the reign of King Narai the Great of the Ayudhya Era, down through the Thonburi [2310-2365 BE i.e. 1767-1822 AD] and Ratanakosin [since 2365 BE i.e. 1822 AD] Periods, a plain red banner represented the national flag on merchant ships trading with nations overseas.

Santiago Dotor, 26 Oct 1999

[Regarding the] the origin of Thai flag, it was a plain red flag during the reign of King Narai the Great (1656-1688).

Wisarut Bholsithi, 29 Oct 1999

According to The Booklet of Thai Flags (Thailand Fine Arts Department, 1977), the 1782-1817 and 1817-1855 flags were used as state flag together with the plain red flag as civil flag until the white elephant on red flag was introduced in 1855 by Rama IV.

Nozomi Kariyasu, 22 Sep 2002

A tourist information website (in French) about Thailand, introducing the national symbols and the national career Thai Airways (with the history of the company logotype), gives more information on the ancient Thai flags.

The early history of the Thai flags is obscure because the Burmese invaders trashed and burned down the city of Ayudhya in 1767. Most historical records from the Ayudhya Era and king Narai the Great were lost.

Chronicles say that a French vessel sailed to the mouth of the Chao Praya river during the reign of Narai the Great. This ship would have been sent by king Louis XIV, which is historically possible, since the kingdoms of France and Siam set up diplomatic relationships at that time. In order to salute the ship, the local authorities hoisted a piece of red cloth, red being then the traditional colour of aristocracy. It was later decided that the national flag would be plain red.

Ivan Sache, 21 Jul 2004

The national flag of Ancient Siam is unknown, however, there were some evidences that in the reign of King Narai (1590-1605) the red flag was hoisted to salute the French ship. The red flag was also used in the reign of King Boromokot (1732-1758) when Thai monks were sent to Sri Lanka. Thus, Prince Damrong Rajanub hab concluded that the red flag was the national flag of Siam in the ancient time.

from the Rama IX Art Museum Foundation, 10 Oct 2005