The Thai National Flag

The history and evolution of Thai national flag

The Red Flag (1680)Thai Flag Museum

The First Siam Flag

The first Siam flag was a plain red flag, first raised at the Wichai Prasit Fort under King Narai the Great in 1680.

The Scene of Ships and Chao Phraya River (1800)Thai Flag Museum

The plain red flag continued to be used on Siamese ships until the beginning of the Rattanakosin era.

Chao Phraya River Map (1800)Thai Flag Museum

A large number of these plain red flags could be seen on merchant ships on the Chao Phraya River near Bangkok.

A White Chakra on The Red Flag (1800)Thai Flag Museum

The Symbol of Chakri Dynasty Integration

In the reign of King Rama I, a white chakra (the weapon of the Hindu god Vishnu, which is also used as part of the symbol of the Chakri dynasty) was added to the red flag and used exclusively on royal ships. Commoners continued to use the plain red flag.

An Ancient Scarf (1800)Thai Flag Museum

An ancient scarf displayed flags that held significance as it included the Siam flag with a white chakra pattern.

A German flag book (1826)Thai Flag Museum

A German flag book shows the Siam flag with a white chakra as the first pattern of the Siam flag (1826). Due to a misunderstanding, the sun was recorded instead of the chakra.

A German flag book shows the Siam flag with a white chakra as the first pattern of the Siam flag (1826). Due to a misunderstanding, the sun was recorded instead of the chakra.

A White Elephant Inside the Chakra Flag (1809)Thai Flag Museum

The White Elephant added-on Flag

During the reign of King Rama II, the king had three white elephants, hence a white elephant was added at the center of the chakra. Commoners still used the plain red flag.

A White Elephant on The Red Field (1840)Thai Flag Museum

The Re-design of Siam Flag

In 1840, during the reign of King Rama III, the new Siam flag pattern featuring the white elephant without a chakra was used on both the royal ships and the general public.

The World Flag Chart, 1840, From the collection of: Thai Flag Museum
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The world flag chart made in France in 1840 during the reign of King Rama III also displayed the white elephant flag known as the Siam flag.

The Record of Using the White Elephant Flag (1843)Thai Flag Museum

A document entitled ‘Supplement of the Singapore Free Press’ shows an article about the white elephant flag used on a Siamese ship during the reign of King Rama lll.

A document entitled ‘Supplement of the Singapore Free Press’ shows an article about the white elephant flag used on a Siamese ship during the reign of King Rama lll.

The Various Patterns of The White Elephant Flag, 1843, From the collection of: Thai Flag Museum
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A sample of white elephant flags in various styles was used from the reign of King Rama III to King Rama VI.

Postcard and Trade Cards, 1900, From the collection of: Thai Flag Museum
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The white elephant flag was printed on many items during the reign of King Rama V as the symbol of Siam.

The Siam Flag on Silk, 1900, From the collection of: Thai Flag Museum
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The white elephant flag, the symbol of Siam, was printed on silk as a gift.

The Siam Flag on Felt, 1900, From the collection of: Thai Flag Museum
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The white elephant flag, the symbol of Siam, was printed on felt as a gift.

Mini Pin Flag, 1900, From the collection of: Thai Flag Museum
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The white elephant flag, the symbol of Siam, was printed on celluloid.

A White Elephant in Regalia, Standing on An Altar Flag (1916)Thai Flag Museum

The Update of Flag Design

In 1916 the pattern of the Siam flag was changed again. King Rama VI announced the use of a white elephant in regalia, standing on an altar, centered on a red background to be the Siam flag for government agencies.

Siam Flag on Postcard and Trade Card, 1916, From the collection of: Thai Flag Museum
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A sample of a white elephant in regalia on a red background flag, known as the Siam flag, was printed on a postcard and souvenir.

Siam flag on A Pillowcase And Handkerchief (1916)Thai Flag Museum

A white elephant in regalia, standing on an altar and centered on a red field flag, was printed on a pillowcase and handkerchief representing Siam as a part of the Allies during The Great War.

Flags of nations at war with Germany

The Sample of A White Elephant in Regalia, Standing on An Altar Flag (1916)Thai Flag Museum

An original flag used in the reign of King Rama VI showed a white elephant in regalia, standing on an altar, centered on a red background.

The First Red And White Stripes Flag (1916)Thai Flag Museum

The National Flag

In 1916, besides changing the Siam flag pattern by using a white elephant in regalia on an altar, King Rama VI also announced the use of a merchant flag with red and white stripes. The new flag was also known as the national flag for commoners.

The Sample of The Red And White Stripes Flag (1916)Thai Flag Museum

The original red and white striped flag was used by the people as the national flag. Later it became the blueprint of the Trirong flag. Now this flag is considered a rare artifact.

The Game of Flags (1916)Thai Flag Museum

A game called ‘The Game of Flags’ shows the new flag of Siam, the red and white striped pattern.

The Paper Flags (1916)Thai Flag Museum

Paper flags made in Japan showed the allied countries who took part in The Great War. The collection displayed the Siam flag with a red and white striped pattern as the Siam flag.

The Trirong Flag (1917)Thai Flag Museum

The Present Thai Flag

In 1917 King Rama VI commanded a change of color, making the middle stripe dark blue instead of red. Dark blue was chosen to represent solidarity with the Allies of The Great War whom also had the colors red, white and blue in their flags. The King named the new national flag the ‘Trirong’ and it continues to be used to this day.

The Trirong Flag on Silk, 1917, From the collection of: Thai Flag Museum
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Souvenirs made from silk embroidered with the Thai national flag pattern.

The Trirong Flag on Silk, 1917, From the collection of: Thai Flag Museum
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Souvenirs made from silk printed with the Thai national flag pattern.

The Trirong Flag on Tradecards (1917)Thai Flag Museum

The Thai national flag printed on merchandise cards.

The Thai national flag printed on merchandise cards.

The Thai national flag printed on merchandise cards.

The Thai national flag printed on merchandise cards.

Credits: Story

The Thai National Flag Museum:

Pluethipol Prachumphol: The Thai National Flag Museum Director
Jantakarn Khloaisai: Deputy director of The Thai National Flag Museum

Vorapoj Songcharoen: CI Designer
Zen Nuntawinyou: Photographer
Wipthawat Rujittawiwat: Gigapan Photographer

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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