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Flag 1916-1917 (Thailand)


Last modified: 2023-06-10 by zachary harden
Keywords: siam | stripes: 2 (white) |
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[Siam 1916-1917 (Thailand)]
image by Miles Li and Zachary Harden, 10 April 2018

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The story goes that during the 1916 flood the king of Siam – since 26th June 1939 called Thailand – saw the national flag – red with a white elephant – hanging upside down. Because of the distress a new flag was adopted that couldn't be hung upside down. Initially it was a red field with two white bands, but on 28th September 1917, the middle stripe was changed to blue to show solidarity with the Allies during the First World War. The name of the flag is therefore Trairanga, meaning tricolour. The proportions of the flag are 2:3, while the stripes are arranged 1-1-2-1-1. 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 story is popular among vexillologists but I have not found it in Thai flag books.

Nozomi Kariyasu, 23 Jul 2004

From the Singha Beer source:

After a while the white elephant flag was changed to a striped flag with two horizontal stripes – one red, the other white – flanking a blue stripe running across the middle. In B.E. 2460 [1917 AD], the King issued a decree in which he christened the new national flag – the one that has been in use ever since – the trairanga or tricolor.

Santiago Dotor, 26 Oct 1999

During the reign of King Vajiravut (1910-1925) the flag was changed to the 5 stripe flag – red and white from 1916-1917. In 1917, the middle red stripe was changed to the blue stripe to make the flag look much better and the blue colour is for Friday – the day King Vajiravut was born (1st January 1880). On 28th September 1917, the Flag Law of 1917 was promulgated and stated that the national flag became the trichelon [sic] flag the one we use today.

Wisarut Bholsithi, 29 Oct 1999

Civil Ensign 1910-1917 (?)

[Civil Ensign 1910-1917 (Thailand)]
image by Miles Li and Eugene Ipavec

From the Singha Beer source:

Khakhai (Merchant-Marine Flag) [ie. Civil Ensign]
This is a rectangular flag with two white parallel stripes on a plain red background.

The flag was first used following an amendment to Royal Decree (R.S.129) issued in B.E.2453 [1910 AD]. Later on however, it was abolished following another amendment, a Royal Decree – Article Two – issued in B.E.2460 [1917 AD].

The image above could well be an ill rendering of the 1916-1917 flag. The only question remains as to the year of approval, 1910 or 1916. Perhaps it was approved in 1910 as a civil ensign and in 1916 as national flag?

Santiago Dotor, 12 Nov 1999

1:1:2:1:1 flag was adopted by Rama VI by Decree No. 129 in 1911 as a merchant flag. Most European flag books reported the flag wrongly.

Nozomi Kariyasu, 23 Jul 2004

In 1917, the national flag was again changed, to five equally wide horizontal stripes R/W/R/W/R. King Rama VI considered that his people cannot afford the elephant flag since it was made in foreign countries. So they mostly used white and red cloth instead of the national flag. Occasionally, the national flag with a white elephant was flown upsidedown by mistake. To solve the problem, the King declared to use the red flag with horizontal white stripes as the national flag.

from the Rama IX Art Museum Foundation, 10 Oct 2005