The last Hindu Kingdom, has a rich heritage and culture that has helped give rise to the most unique flag in the world. A landlocked country in South Asia, Nepal is home to one of three flags in the world that are not the typical rectangle shape. Moreover, the flag of Nepal is the only flag belonging to a sovereign state that is a non-quadrilateral in shape. In this blog I go over exactly what Nepal’s flag symbols, colors, and shape represent.
Let’s dive right into the information about the flag of Nepal with some fast facts!
Flag of Nepal – Fast Facts
|Flag Shape||Two single pennons (or pennants), known as a double-pennon (non-rectangular)|
|Adopted on||16 December, 1962|
|First Adopted by||Prithivi Narayan Shah|
|Colors Used||Crimson Red, Blue and White|
|Nepal Flag Symbols||Crescent Moon with rays (top) and Sun (bottom)|
|Number of Sides||Nepal’s flag has five sides|
Flag of Nepal Design:
Nepal has a unique flag, and the only one of its kind. The flag, unlike any other in the world, is non-quadratic, and has two single pennons (or pennants), known as a double-pennon in its design. Moreover, one pennant is superimposed over the other, making it look like one triangle sitting on top of the other.
The flag of Nepal is tri-color with red, blue and white, and has a symbol of a sun and a crescent moon on it. Although simple looking at first, the design is actually complex with the constitution in 1990 outlining the mathematical design of the shape. Moreover, ensuring that the design is perfect in shape, the new constitution, signed in 2015, outlines the mathematical design of the flag again. The formula is as follows:
This ratio is the least root of the quartic polynomial and arises from the addition of the blue border after construction of the red field. The bounding rectangle of the red field alone has the rational aspect ratio 3:4 (=1:1.333…) (wikipedia). In simple terms, this means that the flag should have proportions of 4:3 plus width of the blue border around the outside. And therefore, making the upper pendant longer than the lower because of the sharper angle.
Mistakes in Reproducing Nepal’s National Flag:
With such a complex design, there have been issues with reproduction of Nepal’s flag, both at home and abroad. Whereas, at the 2016 Olympics, Nepal’s flag proved to be difficult to produce for the host country Brazil, and thus they superimposed the double-pennon design on a traditional rectangular cloth. With the flag being colored correctly, and the empty space being left white.
Another example of misproduction of the flag was in Janakpur, Nepal, during a visit from India’s prime minister Narendra Modi. Whereas, as reported by Kathmandu post in 2018, officials in Janakpur were unable to produce the flag of Nepal to the correct dimensions, resulting in a disfigured flag being shown, and an outrage by nationals.
Color of Nepal Flag:
Nepal’s flag is tritoned with a blue border, red background, and two white symbols in the middle of the red backgrounds (one is a sun and one is a moon). The color codes for each of the three colors on the flag of Nepal can be seen in the table below:
The three colors of the flag also each have their own individual meaning. However, while I was conducting research for this article, different sources have presented different meanings for each of the colors. I have done my best to compile the different answers from credible sources. Even though the definitions may differ slightly, I have compiled the most common definitions.
Nepalese Flag Meaning:
Nepal’s flag has different meaning, concerning the colors, shape, and symbols, and as mentioned there have been different interpretations of what all these symbolize. In this section I have compiled the different explanations for what the flag symbolizes.
To start off with, let’s look at what the colors of Nepal’s flag mean.
What do the colors of Nepal’s flag mean?
The meaning of the colors of Nepal’s flag include the following:
- Blue: Symbolizes peace and harmony in the nation. Additionally, some sources extend the meaning of the color blue to mean, knowledge, wisdom, tranquility, and peace
- Red: Is the national color of Nepal as well the color of the national flower of Nepal, Rhododendron. Finally, and most popularly, the color red on Nepal’s flag represents the bravery and brave spirit of the Nepalese people as well as being a sign of victory in war.
- White: Symbolizes purity and neutrality as well as light and awakening.
The definitions of the colors of Nepal’s flag can go even deeper than what I highlighted above. With some individuals claiming the colors represent ideas such as: Red symbolizing closeness and blue symbolizing distance, and white symbolizing neutrality.
Now that we have covered the colors, let us dive into the meanings behind the flag’s symbols.
Nepal Flag Symbol Meaning
There are three prominent symbols on Nepal’s Flag: the sun, the moon and its shape. Whereas, the shape originally symbolized the Himalayan Mountains while their points also represent the families of the king (upper) and the prime minister (lower). However, now they are understood to represent Hinduism and Buddhism, the country’s two main religions.
Moreover, the symbols of the flag, the moon represents the serenity of the Nepalese people and the shade and cool weather in the Himalayas. While the sun symbol on the flag represents the heat and higher temperatures of the lower parts of Nepal (Terai). Finally, it is said that both symbols, moon and the sun also represent the hope that the nation will endure as long as these heavenly bodies do.
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Nepal Flag History – What old Nepal flags looked like:
The history of the flag of Nepal is rich and dates back to an unknown year, which is thought to have originated many years before the unification of Nepal. Whereas, a similar design of the current flag of Nepal, was adopted as Nepal’s national flag in 1768 by Prithvi Narayan Shah of Gorkha (the first king of Nepal), after his successful campaign to take over the Kathmandu Valley from the Malla Kings.
The main difference between the historic flag and the current flag, is that historically the two pennants were separated and stand alone. These two pennants were not combined into one flag until the 19th century. We can get a glimpse of what the old Nepali flag looked like by examining a historic flag that is cast in metal at the Rudra Varna temple in Patan, Lalitpur.
As you can see, the original design had faces on both the sun and moon symbol on the flag. These designs with faces can be also seen in some of the more recent flags of Nepal, all the way up to 1962, which was when King Mahendra and Nepal adopted a new constitution as well as modernized the historical flag for Nepal. The timeline of different flags in Nepal, and how old flags of Nepal looked like can be seen below:
Other Prominent Flags of Nepal
To showcase the dynamics of Nepal, I have also included Royal flags of Nepal and flags used during the unification campaign of Nepal.
Royal flags Unification:
Flag of Nepal FAQs and Facts
Below you can find some of the most frequently asked questions regarding Nepal’s national Flag.
Easy answer, Nepal was never colonized and thus was not influenced by other countries – especially by British rule, who had significant influence in Asia and India. This means the traditional rectangular shaped flag was never introduced to Nepal (or was never forced to use the rectangular shaped flag).
As for the shape of the flag, it is said to have various meanings. With people crediting the shape to representing Buddhism and Hinduism, the two dominant religions in Nepal. Additionally, it has been said to represent the Shah Monarchy and Rana Prime minister wings of the government. And finally, to represent the tallest mountains in Nepal and the world: The Himalayas!
Note: unfortunately, as of 2001 there is no longer the Royal Shah Family, as they were killed during the Royal Palace Massacre in Nepal.
In August 2014, during an event organized by Human Values for Peace and Prosperity an NGO in Nepal, Nepal won a Guinness Book of World Record by beating Pakistan’s previous record for making the largest human flag. The previous record held by Pakistan had 29,000+ people, which Nepal was able to beat with 35,907 people!
August, 2014 a human made Nepal flag record beating effort succeeded with 35,907 people
Sadly, Nepal only held the record for a short period of time, as the neighboring country India, beat it in December of the same year. Creating an Indian flag with 43,000+ people in Chennai, India.
The crimson red stands is Nepal’s national color, and refers to their brave spirits. The two triangles represent the Himalayas and the two major religions, Hinduism and Buddhism. The moon represents the serenity of the Nepalese people and the shade and cool weather in the Himalayas. While the sun symbol on the flag represents the heat and higher temperatures of the Terai.
The shape of Nepal’s flag represents the Himalayan Mountains and represents the two major religions in Nepal, Hinduism and Buddhism.
Nepal is the only country that has a five sided flag. It is non-quadrilateral in shape, with two single pennons (or pennants), known as a double-pennon.
Nepal is the only country that does not have a rectangular or square shape national flag. Instead, Nepal’s flag takes on a distinctive triangular shape, formed by merging two individual pennons. The flag was officially adopted on December 16, 1962.