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Ottoman Empire (Turkey, 1299-1923)

Osmanlı İmparatorluğu

Last modified: 2012-05-27 by ivan sache
Keywords: ottoman empire | osmanli imparatorlugu | crescent (white) | civil ensign | land flag | star (white) | sandjak cherif |
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[flag of the Ottoman Empire]

Flag of the Ottoman Empire - Image by Željko Heimer, 2 March 1999


See also:


National flag

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 Nearly everywhere you can read that this star has later been replaced by a five-pointed one.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


Flag for ocean-going vessels

[Flag for ocean-going vessels]

Flag for "ocean-going vessels" - Image by António Martins, 18 September 2006

The flag with a seven-pointed star was the flag for "ocean-going vessels".

Ralf Stelter, 27 June 1999


Civil ensigns

There were only three flags in the Ottoman Empire that were official and can be called "national flags":

  • the red flag with a white crescent and star, as the national flag,
  • the plain red flag, as the merchant flag
  • a special merchant flag for Muslims who had done the pilgrimage to Mecca, a flag horizontally divided red-green-red.

Ralf Stelter, 27 June 1999


Ottoman civil ensign

[Merchant ensign]

Ottoman civil ensign - Image by Ivan Sache, 10 March 2001


Muslim civil ensign

[Muslim civil ensign]

Muslim civil ensign - Image by Ivan Sache, 10 March 2001

Smith [smi75c] says that "Muslims used a green stripe through their red civil ensign."
This flag is also shown in Colton's Delineation of Flags of All Nations (1862) [clt62] (colour plate reproduced in Znamierowski [zna99]) and captioned: " #140. Turkish Merchant".

Ivan Sache, 10 March 2001


Greek civil ensign

[Greek civil ensign]

Greek civil ensign - Image by Ivan Sache, 10 March 2001

Smith [smi75c] says that "The Christians of Greece used a blue stripe through their red civil ensign."
This flag is also shown in Colton's Delineation of Flags of All Nations (1862) [clt62] (colour plate reproduced in Znamierowski [zna99]) and captioned: " #141. Ottoman Greek".

Ivan Sache, 10 March 2001


Albanian civil ensign

[Albanian civil ensign]

Albanian civil ensign - Image by Ivan Sache, 10 March 2001

Smith [smi75c] says that "The Albanians used a black stripe through their red civil ensign", making it similar to the current Albanian civil ensign.

Ivan Sache, 10 March 2001


Ship commanded by a reserve officer

A green flag with three stars was a merchant flag for a ship commanded by captain being a reserve Ottoman Navy officer (similar to the British Blue Ensign for merchant ships).

Ralf Stelter, 27 June 1999


Land flag

[Land Flag]

Ottoman land flag - Image by Jaume Ollé, 27 June 1999


Sandjak cherif

Larousse du XXe siècle (1928) mentions under the heading ÉTENDARD CÉLESTE (lit., "celeste standard") "the standard of green colour, which is venerated by the Turks who claim it was borne by Muhammad, and hoist it on special occasions".

Ivan Sache, 18 November 2000