Flag of Indonesia

Flag of Indonesia

The national flag of Indonesia, which is known as Sang Merah Putih ("The Red and White") in Indonesian, cite web|url=http://indonesia-oslo.no/Political-Affairs/National-Flag-Coat-of-Arms-Anthem.html |title=National Flag, Coat of Arms, Anthem |accessdate=2007-12-26 |date=01-05-2007 |publisher=Embassy of Indonesia, Oslo, Norway ] is based on the flag of the 13th century Majapahit empire. The flag itself was introduced and hoisted in public at the Indonesian Independence Day ceremony, on August 17, 1945. The design of the flag has remained the same ever since.

The design of the flag is simple with two equal horizontal bands, red (top) and white (bottom) with an overall ratio of 2:3. The flag is similar to the flag of Poland and flag of Singapore, and is identical to the flag of Monaco (except for the ratio). Red represents bravery, while white represents the spiritual element. There is a national song titled "Merah Putih" (Red and White).

History of the Flag

Its colors are derived from the banner of the 13th century Majapahit Empire. Later, these colors were revived by students and then nationalists in the early 20th century as an expression of nationalism against the Dutch. The red-white flag was flown for the first time in Java in 1928. Under Dutch rule, the flag was prohibited. It was adopted as the national flag on August 17, 1945, when independence was declared and has been in use since then.

Alternative History

There is also another story about the flag of Indonesia, which is significantly related to the flag of the Netherlands. Under Dutch colonialism, every administration used the Netherlands (Red-white-blue) flag. The flag of Indonesia was prohibited. To symbolize the intention of forcing out the Dutch, the Indonesian nationalists and independence movement tore apart the Dutch flag. They tore off the bottom third of the flag, and separated the red and white colors from the blue color. The main reason was because blue in the Dutch flag was understood as standing for the "blue blooded" aristocracy. Conversely, the red color represented the blood shed in the War of Independence, while the white could be understood to symbolize the purity of the Indonesians.

Name of the Flag

The official name of the flag is "Sang Merah Putih" (The Red White) according to Article 35 of the 1945 Constitution. The flag is commonly called "Bendera Merah Putih" (Red White Flag). Occasionally, it is also called "Sang Dwiwarna" (The bicolor)."Sang Saka Merah Putih" (The Lofty Red White) refers to the historical flag called "Bendera Pusaka" (heirloom flag) and its replica. The "Bendera Pusaka" is the flag that was flown in front of Soekarno's house a few moments after he proclaimed Indonesia's independence on August 17, 1945. The original "Bendera Pusaka" was sewn by Mrs. Fatmawati Soekarno, and was hoisted every year in front of the presidential palace during the independence day ceremony. It was hoisted for the last time on August 17, 1968. Since then it has been preserved and replaced by a replica because the original flag was deemed to be too fragile.

Meaning of the Flag

"The red stands for courage, while the white stands for purity.""The red represents human's body or physical life, while white represents human's soul or spiritual life. Together they stand for a complete human being." cite web|url=http://fotw.net/flags/id.html |title=Indonesia |accessdate=2007-12-26 |date=06-09-2006 |publisher=Flags of the World ]

Traditionally, most Indonesians have used red and white as their sacred colors, mixing the color of sugar (the red color comes from palm-sugar or "gula aren") and rice (white in color). Inarguably, until today, both of these are the major components of daily Indonesian cuisine or cooking. Apparently, the Javanese's Majapahit Kingdom also used this concept and designed their flag as red and white (9 stripes of each). Moreover, the red and white colors are also used for the Indonesia's distant cousin, Madagascar's as the color of the national flag.


Flag protocols

Similar to most national flags, the etiquette covering Indonesia's flag is very strict and must be adhered to.
* Etiquette relating to the order of precedence for the flag. Often more than one type of flag is flown simultaneously, for example the flag of Indonesian military. Below is the order of precedence for the flags:
** National Flag of Indonesia
** State Flag of Indonesia
** Military Flag of Indonesia (in order of creation date)
** Other Flag of Indonesia
* The United Nations uses alphabetical order when flying national flags, including the national flag of Indonesia. This etiquette ensures that there is no one country's flag has precedence over another country's flag.
* The Indonesian flag should never be allowed to drag along the ground as it disrespects the history of the flag and the history of Indonesia in general.
* When the flag is tattered or faded, that flag must be replaced with a new flag in a good condition.
* It is very important to ensure the flag is always flown the correct way up. Care must be taken to ensure it is.
* When in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, the flag should be destroyed in a respectful and dignified way, preferably by burning in private with appropriate care and respect.

Flag display

* The flag should be hoisted with the correct way up, preferably with a pole. However, if it is not possible, the act of hoisting could be done with a rope.
* "Half Staff" or "Half Mast" - The flag is hoisted halfway up the pole to denote grief and mourning. In this case, the flag should be raised to the top of the pole first, then lowered halfway.
* Manner of hoisting - The Indonesian flag should be hoisted briskly and lowered ceremoniously. Usually, the flag raising ceremony is accompanied by the national anthem of Indonesia (Indonesia Raya), and people should salute the flag. The hoisting should be timed so the flag reaches the top of the pole as the national anthem ends.cite news | first= | last= | coauthors= | title=Pemaknaan Lagu Indonesia Raya | date=2006-08-08 | publisher=indosiar.com | url =http://news.indosiar.com/news_read.htm?id=53826 | work = | pages = | accessdate = 2007-12-26 | language = Indonesian ]
* The Indonesian flag should never be fastened, displayed, used, or stored in such a manner as to permit it to be easily torn, soiled, or damaged in any way. Furthermore, there cannot be anything on the flag such as drawings, words, pictures and marks, nor can objects be placed on the flag.


In 2003, the governor of Jakarta, Sutiyoso announced his plan to relocate the original "Bendera Pusaka" from the State Palace to the National Monument. For security and financial reasons, the Rp 3.5 billion (US$388,889) project was delayed for one year. Of the Rp3.5 billion, only Rp 500 million was allocated for the actual relocation ceremony, while most of the remaining Rp3 billion was spent on procuring around 15 kilograms of gold for the conservation room and on security measures such as alarms and security cameras. The spending was proposed in the 2003 revised city budget. The plan was to install the flag in a 24-carat gold plated case in the Independence Room inside the National Monument. Inside the Independence Room, there are three most important relics from Indonesia's history, the Garuda statue, the Nusantara (Archipelago) map and the original text of the Indonesian proclamation, which all are kept in the gold plated cases.

ee also

*List of flags
*Flags of Monaco and Canton of Solothurn: different proportions
*Flag of Poland: same colors, different order
*Flag of Singapore: different symbol


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