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Flag 1817-1855 (Thailand)


Last modified: 2023-06-03 by zachary harden
Keywords: siam | chakra (white) | wheel (white) | elephant (white) | plain (red) |
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[Siam 1817-1855 (Thailand)]
image by Zachary Harden and Phanuwit Woonchoom, 10 April 2018

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Not all flag books are in agreement on when the various flags of Siam/Thailand were introduced. (...) In 1817 a white elephant was added to the centre of the chakra. In 1855 the chakra was dropped, leaving only the white elephant on the 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

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

The white elephant was added up during King Rama II (1809-1824) since King Rama II received three white elephants during his reign. Later on, the white elephant in the red flag had more decoration [i.e., caparisoning].

Wisarut Bholsithi, 29 Oct 1999

In Bangkok in May 2002 I bought a copy of The Booklet of Thai Flags, issued by the Thailand Fine Arts Department in 1977. It shows the first flag adopted in 1782 by King Rama I (reigned 1782-1809) and the second one adopted in 1817 by King Rama II (reigned 1809-1824). The above image by Jaume Ollé is based on The Booklet of Thai Flags.

Nozomi Kariyasu, 22 Sep 2002

According to the Chakri Dinasty data in FOTW, King Rama I reigned 1782-1809, King Rama II 1809-1824 and King Rama IV (i.e. King Mongkut) 1851-1868 (all dates AD). We might thus date the red flag with chakra ca.1782-ca.1809, the same flag with an elephant inside the chakra ca.1809-1855.

Santiago Dotor, 14 Nov 2002

According to a tourist information website (in French) about Thailand, king Rama IV removed the wheel in 1851 to increase the visibility of the flag.

Ivan Sache, 21 Jul 2004

In the reign of King Rama II, three white elephants were offered to the King, which was regarded as a special event. Thus, the King declared to charge the national flag with a white elephant in the wheel. This flag was only used by the royal ships when they sailed to trade with other countries while the plain red flag was still used by the private ships.

from the Rama IX Art Museum Foundation, 10 Oct 2005

Civil Ensign

[Siam ca.1656-1782, civil ensign 1782-1855 (Thailand)] ca.1656-1782 | 1782-1855 |
image by Santiago Dotor

According to The Booklet of Thai Flags (Thailand Fine Arts Department, 1977), the 1782 and 1817 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