Flag of Turkey

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Republic of Turkey
Flag of Turkey.svg
Use National flag and ensign
Proportion FIAV 111111.svg 2:3
Adopted 1793
Design A red field with a white star and crescent slightly left of center.[1]
PAN: 186C
RGB: 227, 10, 23
HEX: #E30A17

The flag of Turkey (Turkish: Türk bayrağı) is a red flag featuring a white star and crescent. The flag is often called al bayrak (the red flag), and is referred to as al sancak (the red banner) in the Turkish national anthem, the current design of the Turkish flag is directly derived from the late Ottoman flag, which had been adopted in the late 18th century and acquired its final form in 1844. The measures, geometric proportions, and exact tone of red of the flag of Turkey were legally standardised with the Turkish Flag Law on 29 May 1936.[2]

Military flags[edit]

The pre-modern Ottoman armies used the horse-tail standard or tugh rather than flags, such standards remained in use alongside flags until the 19th century. A depiction of a tugh is found in the Relation d'un voyage du Levant by Joseph Pitton de Tournefort (1718).[3] War flags came into use by the 16th century, during the 16th and 17th centuries, Ottoman war flags often depicted the bifurcated Zulfiqar sword, often misinterpreted in Western literature as showing a pair of scissors.[4] A Zulfiqar flag claimed to have been used by Selim I (d. 1520) is on exhibit in the Topkapı Museum. Two Zulfiqar flags are also depicted in a plate dedicated to Turkish flags in vol. 7 of Bernard Picart's Cérémonies et coutumes religieuses de tous les peuples du monde (1737), attributed to the Janissaries and the Ottoman cavalry. The crescent symbol appears in flags attributed to Tunis from as early as the 14th century (Libro de conoscimiento), long before Tunis fell under Ottoman rule in 1574. The Spanish Navy Museum in Madrid shows two Ottoman naval flags dated 1613; both are swallow-tailed, one green with a white crescent near the hoist, the other white with two red stripes near the edges of the flag and a red crescent near the hoist.[5]

Ottoman era[edit]

The current design from 1844.


The Turkish flag has undergone several revisions in important times of history, the original flag of the Ottoman Empire was a red banner which was modified to include a golden crescent in 1453. During the 16th century the flag was rectangular and featured three golden crescents on a green ovular setting, the adoption of the current star and crescent as the state symbol started during the reign of Mustafa III (1757–1774) and its use became well-established during the reigns of Abdul Hamid I (1774–1789) and Selim III (1789–1807).[6] According to Znamierowski, the red flag with the white crescent and star was adopted in 1793.[7] A buyruldu from that year states that the ships in the Ottoman navy have that flag, and various other documents from earlier and later years mention its use,[6] the number of points in the star was initially not fixed. The white crescent with an eight-pointed star on a red field is depicted as the flag of a "Turkish Man of War" in Colton's Delineation of Flags of All Nations (1862). Steenbergen's Vlaggen van alle Natiën of the same year shows a six-pointed star. A plate in Webster's Unabridged of 1882 shows the flag with an eight-pointed star labelled "Turkey, Man of war", the five-pointed star seems to have been present alongside these variants from at least 1844. With the Tanzimat reforms in the 19th century, flags were redesigned in the style of the European armies of the day, the flag of the Ottoman Navy was made red, as red was to be the flag of secular institutions and green of religious ones. As the reforms abolished all the various flags and standards of the Ottoman pashaliks, beyliks and emirates,[further explanation needed][which?] a single new Ottoman national flag was designed to replace them. The result was the red flag with the white crescent moon and star, which is the precursor to the modern flag. A plain red flag was introduced as the civil ensign for all Ottoman subjects.

Legendary origins[edit]

In accounting for the crescent and star symbol, Ottomans sometimes referred to a legendary dream of the eponymous founder of the Ottoman house, Osman I, in which he is reported to have seen a moon rising from the breast of a qadi whose daughter he sought to marry. "When full, it descended into his own breast. Then from his loins there sprang a tree, which as it grew came to cover the whole world with the shadow of its green and beautiful branches." Beneath it Osman saw the world spread out before him, surmounted by the crescent.[8]

Republic era[edit]

The National Cockade of Turkey

Legal basis[edit]

Fundamentals of the Turkish flag dated 1844 were laid down by Turkish Flag Law No. 2994 on 29 May 1936 during the Republic period of Turkey. Turkish Flag Regulation No. 2/7175 dated 28 July 1937, and Supplementary Regulation No. 11604/2 dated 29 July 1939, were enacted to describe how the flag law would be implemented. The Turkish Flag Law No. 2893 dated 22 September 1983, and Published in the Official Gazette on 24 September 1983, was promulgated six months after its publication. According to Article 9 of Law No. 2893, a statute including the fundamentals of the implementation was also published.

The Turkish Flag in vertical format

Display and use[edit]

State institutions[edit]

The flag is always displayed prominently in state institutions from schools to ministries, the Çankaya Mansion, Parliament, Ministries, Schools, Military, Councils, Governors buildings, Muhtars offices, Bridges, Airports, and every state owned building in the country features one or more Turkish Flags.


On Military uniforms the flag is displayed on a patch either on the right shoulder or on the front of the uniform. Helmets can display the flag too on the front or the sides. Flight suits, navy uniforms, Jandarma uniforms and others feature the flag on shoulder patches or helmets. Along with uniforms several emblems and patches display the flag with prominence or minor alteration.

Days of display[edit]

Turkey celebrates many national events such as battle victories and Republic Day. People come to the streets with their flags to celebrate such days, on other occasions the public uses the flag heavily when protesting or commemorating certain events or deaths respectively. Statues and monuments may be draped with the flag while marches and songs are played, on television screens the flag is displayed in celebration of such events too with the portrait of President Atatürk next to it. The flag may also be presented at half staff in mourning of tragic events or important days.


The flag has a prominent display on state and military funerals. A burial flag is always draped over the deceased coffin and is carried by the Askeri İnzibat or relatives of the deceased. Soldiers of all types and the Presidential Guard also carry the coffin at times. Many attendees also feature the flag on their lapels along with an image of the deceased.



In an RGB colour space, the red colour of the Turkish flag is composed of 89% red, 3.9% green, and 9% blue (in hexadecimal colour code #E30A17). In a CMYK colour space, it is composed of 0% cyan, 95.6% magenta, 89.9% yellow and 11% black. It has a hue angle of 356.4 degrees, a saturation of 91.6%, and a lightness of 46.5%. The red colour on the Turkish flag is vivid red and this colour can be obtained by blending #FF142E with #C70000, the closest websafe colour is: #d11919.


The below specification, given by Turkish Flag Law, implies that the distance between (the left edge of) the inner circle of the crescent and a vertical line connecting the two pointed ends of the crescent is 279800 G = 0.34875 G; thus, the left point of the star intrudes about 0.0154 G beyond that line.

Construction sheet
Letter Measure Length
G Width
A Distance between the centre of the outer crescent and the seam of the white band 12 G
B Diameter of the outer circle of the crescent 12 G
C Distance between the centres of the inner and outer circles of the crescent 116 G
D Diameter of the inner circle of the crescent 25 G
E Distance between the inner circle of the crescent and the circle around the star 13 G
F diameter of the circle around the star 14 G
L Length 1 12 G
M Width of the white hem at the hoist 130 G

Turkish colonies[edit]

Various lands taken under the control of the Turkish State or were colonized by it became Eyalets and later Vilayets with their own flags.

Flags under direct or partial influence[edit]

Many nation states which had gained independence from the Ottoman Empire had adopted their own national flags, some adopted the Crescent Moon and Star while others not. Countries such as Tunisia and Algeria are examples of this. Other countries such as Pakistan also feature the Crescent Moon and Star but these symbols denote religion and the future instead of any history under Turkey. Past Sultanates and Protectorates of the Ottoman Empire also used the Crescent Moon and Star as a national symbol.

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ http://mevzuat.meb.gov.tr/html/18171_0.html
  2. ^ "Türk Bayrağı Kanunu" [Law on Turkish Flag] (PDF). 
  3. ^ Lors des campagnes, la marche du Grand Vizir (1er ministre nommé par le Sultan de Constantinople) est précédée par trois Étendards ou Queues de cheval terminées chacune par une pomme dorée, ils sont l'enseigne militaire des Othomans appelée Thou ou Thouy. On dit qu'un Général de cette nation, ne sachant comment rallier ses troupes qui avaient perdu tous ses Étendards, s'avisa de couper la queue d'un cheval et de l'attacher au bout d'une lance; les soldats coururent à ce nouveau signal et remportèrent la victoire... cited after Marc Pasquin, 22 November 2004, crwflags.com; c.f. also a facsimile image hosted at the website of the Bibliothèque nationale de France.
  4. ^ e.g. Jaques Nicolas Bellin, Tableau des Pavillons de le nations que aborent à la mer (1756).
  5. ^ Nozomi Karyasu & António Martins, 8 October 2006 on Flags of the World.
  6. ^ a b İslâm Ansiklopedisi (in Turkish). 4. Istanbul: Türkiye Diyanet Vakfı. 1991. p. 298. 
  7. ^ crwflags.com: "There was an Ottoman flag with crescent and seven-pointed star. Nearly everywhere you can read that this star has later been replaced by a five-pointed one, but when, and why? We (Archiv für Flaggenkunde) only found out (until now) that the five-pointed star has always been present in the imperial flag. The five-pointed star had always pointed to the hoist, as show some flag charts, and also Turkish charts of 1857 and 1905." Ralf Stelter, 27 June 1999 "Zanamierowski [zna99] gives 1793 as the date for the introduction of the red flag with white crescent and star (presumably as some sort of flag for national identity) and 1844 for the change from an eight-pointed to a five-pointed star, (not that I doubt it) but I have never been able to discover any other source to confirm or refute the information?" Christopher Southworth, 18 January 2011
  8. ^ Lord Kinross, The Ottoman Centuries: The Rise and Fall of the Turkish Empire, Morrow Quill Paperbacks, 1977, pp 23-24.

External links[edit]