At the heart of symbolism

The flag of Nepal


Flag of Nepal

The two pennant flag

The flag of Nepal is the only national flag which is not rectangular (or square) in shape. It is composed of two distinct pennants, one above the other, which belonged to rival branches of the Rana dynasty, the former rulers of Nepal. The two pennants were first joined during the 19th century, but the present flag was adopted in 1962 only upon the establishment of a new constitutional government.

Coat of arms of NepalThe national coat of arms of Nepal gives some clues about the symbolism of the flag. It was described in “The Rising Nepal” newspaper as follows: “It is round in shape with the national flag on top of its centre encircled by rhododendron, the national flower. Inside the circle lies Mount Everest, a hill, the map of Nepal and the handshake of a man and a woman. Below the circle reads a Sanskrit verse meaning ‘mother and motherland are greater than heaven”. Let us note that this motto does not ignore heaven. It says that the coat of arms is a whole as indicated by the map of Nepal in the middle. It only emphases the foreground hill and plain where most Nepalese live relative to the background summit Mount touching heaven.

The two triangular shapes of the flag can therefore only symbolize both slopes of Mount Everest, the sunny and shady sides, the light and dark ones respectively represented by the sun and the horizontal crescent moon. The sun and moon are now said to express the hope that the country will last as long as the astral bodies.

The sun and moon motifs are white against a crimson red background, the national colour. A blue border edges the flag as the Himalayas edge the northern part of the country.

The preceding description of the flag and coat of arms shows that Nepalese emblems have been drawn to bring apparent opposite aspects together in order to underline their complementarity within the unity of the country.

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