Flag of the Mughal Empire

The Mughal Empire had a number of imperial flags and standards. The principal imperial standard of the Mughals was known as the alam (Alam علم). It was primarily moss green.[1] It displayed a lion and sun (Shir-u-khurshid شیر و خورشید) facing the hoist of the flag.[2] The Mughals traced their use of the alam back to Timur.[3]

The imperial standard was displayed to the right of the throne and also at the entrance of the Emperor's encampment and in front of the emperor during military marches.[3]

According to the Ain-i-Akbari, during Akbar's reign, whenever the emperor rode out, not less than five alams were carried along with the qur (a collection of flags and other insignia) wrapped up in scarlet cloth bags. They were unfurled on the days of festivity, and in battle.[4] Edward Terry, chaplain to Sir Thomas Roe, who came during the reign of Jahangir, described in his Voyage to East-India (1655) that the royal standard, made of silk, with a crouching lion shadowing part of the body of the sun inscribed on it, was carried on an elephant whenever the emperor travelled.[5][6]

A painting by Payag in a manuscript of the Padshahnama, a chronicle on Shah Jahan's reign, preserved in the Royal Library, Windsor Castle depicted the Mughal standards as the scarlet pennons with green borders with a passant lion and rising sun behind it.[7] Another painting in the same manuscript depicted the Mughal standards having green fields with a couchant lion and rising sun behind it.[8][9]

Historical depictions

See also


  1. http://www.bl.uk/onlinegallery/onlineex/apac/addorimss/a/zoomify55414.html
  2. "Alam - The Flag of the Mughals". Mumbai: Khadi Dyers & Printers. Retrieved 26 February 2010. primarily moss green and some flags were scarlet. Against a green field it displayed a rising sun, partially eclipsed by a body of a couching lion facing the hoist
  3. 1 2 Singh, K.V. (1991). Our National Flag (jpg)|format= requires |url= (help). New Delhi: Publication Division, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Government of India. p. 14.
  4. Blochmann, H. (tr.) (1927, reprint 1993). The Ain-I Akbari by Abu'l-Fazl Allami, Vol. I, Calcutta: The Asiatic Society, p.52
  5. Foster, William (ed.) (1921) Early Travels in India, 1583-1619, London: Oxford University Press, p. 306
  6. Terry, Edward (1777) [1655]. A Voyage to East-India. London: J. Wilkie. p. 347.
  7. Payag (1646). "The siege of Qandahar (May 1631)" (jpg). King of the World - The Padshahnama. Philadelphia: Department of History at the University of Pennsylvania. Plate No.: 18. Retrieved 29 October 2010.
  8. 'Kashmiri Painter' (attribution) (1646–1656). "A royal procession" (jpg). King of the World - The Padshahnama. Philadelphia: Department of History at the University of Pennsylvania. Plate No.: 34. Retrieved 29 October 2010.
  9. Divyabhanusinh (2007). The Great Mughal Go Hunting Lions. in Mahesh Rangarajan (ed.) Environmental Issues in India: A Reader. Pearson Education. p. 53. ISBN 978-81-317-0810-1.

Further reading

  • Koch, Ebba (2001). Mughal Art and Imperial Ideology: Collected Essays, New Delhi: Oxford University Press.

Media related to Flag of the Mughal Empire at Wikimedia Commons

  • An engraving of the Mughal imperial standard from Foster, William (ed.) The embassy of Sir Thomas Roe to the court of the Great Mogul, 1615–1619, as narrated in his journal and correspondence London: Haklyut Society, 1899 in Internet Archive website
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