Saturday, March 14, 2009


Originally, the Thailand flag was plain red with no decorations or markings of any kind. This version of the Thailand flag came into usage sometime in the 1600s in the country then known as Siam, but increasing trade and commerce within the area necessitated the adoption of a more distinctive flag. Naval flags in Siam began to use various symbols upon the red background, such as a white sun-disc, white chakras (Buddhist wheel symbols which were also the insignia of the ruling Chakkri dynasty), or a white chakra containing the royal white elephant.

In 1855, King Mongkut adopted the first official Thailand flag incorporating the white elephant symbol on a red background, in order to show a more appropriate national sense of pride in international affairs and relations with other countries. In the early 1900s, however, the elephant was abandoned and the Thailand flag became a symmetrical array of 5 horizontal stripes, with three red and two white, and the central stripe (red) twice the width of the remaining four. Stories suggest that the change was made after the king of Thailand (Vajiravudh, also known as Rama VI) at the time saw the Thailand flag hanging upside down during a severe flood, and wished to prevent such a disaster from occurring again, so ordered that a new flag be designed which was symmetrical.

The current official Thailand flag was adopted by the country on September 28th of 1917, replacing the central red stripe with blue. Sources disagree as to whether the blue color was chosen to signify Friday, the day of King Vajiravudh's birth, or chosen in a show of support for the Allies during World War I. The red, white and blue coloration of the Thailand flag also stands, in the popular view, for nation, religion and king, which is a motto of Thailand, although not official. The outer two red stripes of the Thailand flag are thought to signify the nation and the land, while the two white bands represent Theraveda Buddhism, and the central blue double-width stripe stands for Thailand's monarchy. The Thailand flag itself is proportioned 2:3, height to width respectively.

In the Thai language, the Thailand flag is simply called 'Thong Trairong', or 'tricolor flag'.

Interestingly enough, the Thailand flag is identical in design to Costa Rica's national flag, only with the red and blue stripes inverted. To prevent confusion in international affairs or at a distance, Costa Rica frequently adds its national coat-of-arms to its flag for a more distinctive appearance.

No comments:

Post a Comment