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Tibet 1920-c. 1925

Bod, Bö, བོད་

Last modified: 2006-09-23 by phil nelson
Keywords: tibet | sun | moon | stars | snow lion | ying-yang | orb: burning | mountains |
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[1920 Tibetan flag] image by Roberto Breschi
Source: Roberto Breschi
located by Corentin Chamboredon, 18 March 2006

  • Tibet

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    The image and the following information (translated) is from Roberto Breschi's interesting Italian vex-site.

    National and state flag, adopted near 1920, confirmed during the spring of this same year and described in a document found in the archives of the French ministry of foreign affairs. Ratio 5/6. Replaced a few years later with (the German Flaggenbuch of 1926 [d9e27a] already shows a new design). The design, rather naive, shows a snow lion, symbol of the power of the dalai-lama, looking at the only elements higher than it: the moon, the sun, and the stars who all enlighten the dalai-lama. The mountains on the background represent the inviolability of the country and the burning sphere near the lion's legs represent the will of the Dalai-Lama to protect Tibet from its enemies. It is the first distinctive emblem of modern Tibet. It seems that the former Chinese imperial flag had been risen between 1912 and 1920.

    I have additional details on the national flag from a Chinese website:

    Meanwhile, Britain had persuaded the authorities in Tibet to send a delegation to the Asian Relations Conference in New Delhi. The Tibet government complied, and the arrival of the delegation was hailed by the major Indian newspapers. Hugh Richardson, the commercial attaché at the British Embassy in New Delhi, suggested that if the delegation had its own flag it would be claiming to represent an independent country. He wasted no time in notifying the Gaxag. But Tibet had no national flag, and so the Gaxag sent its army's flag, which showed a lion against a back ground of snowy peaks.

    This is probably the real origin of the national flag. The 13th Dalai-Lama tried to make Tibet fully independent and internationally recognized. The reason why he didn't keep the army flag is probably political. Between 1914 and 1933 (death of the 13th), the army went through major reforms. It became a little but real national army with foreign instructors and began to successfully expel the Chinese troops from eastern Tibet.

    Nevertheless, the army met three important obstacles:

    a) the monasteries were absolutely opposed to a national army who would have diverted young men from religion and religious power
    b) the nobility would have lost its privilege and justification with a conscript army
    c) the eastern Khampa principalities who wanted to keep their independence both from China and Tibet. The army didn't win this political fight, and that's why a new flag rose on Tibet.

    Corentin Chamboredon, 18, 20 March 2006