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Shan State (Myanmar)

Last modified: 2011-06-10 by ian macdonald
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[Flag of the Shan State] Ivan Sache

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Description of the flag

In an old (1993) magazine I found a picture with this flag: a three equal horz stripes yellow - green - red and a central white disc over them. The caption says:

"Gen. Khun Sa, the "king of opium" of the Golden Triangle, called "the prince of death". He is the chief of a private army of 20.000 people, the Mong Tay Army, which controls wide opium plantations in the eastern Burman jungle."

Giuseppe Bottasini, 1 April 1996

I think this flag is the flag of the Shan state. A version of this flag appears in Crampton (1990), at the page of the flags of the peoples seeking independence.
Pascal Vagnat
, 2 April 1996

In "Flaggenmitteilungen" no. 100 an article about the flag of Shanland:

Breadth 3 x length 1 1/2, radius of white disc 1, three horizontal stripes yellow-ochre/green/red in a ratio of 1/2 each.

Mark Sensen, 1 June 1996

I'd rephrase it to "flag ratio of 3:6, circle diameter of 2 and stripes height of 1"
Antonio Martins
18 June 1999

Meaning of the flag

In "Flaggenmitteilungen" no. 100 an article about the flag of Shanland:

Yellow ochre indicates that all of the nationalities of Shanland belong to the yellow race; also indicates that Shanland is a Buddhist country, the robe of the Buddhist monks has the same color. Green represents the evergreen landscape, warm climate and agriculture, the basis of Shan economy. Red symbolizes the courageous spirit of the Shan people. White disc stands for the moon, because the Shan people are so pure and gentle like the moon; they love peace and quiet, they wish to co-exist peacefully with all nationalities inside and outside of Shanland, and they do not provoke and attack the other peoples.

Mark Sensen, 1 June 1996

Yellow doesn't indicate the robe of the monk but the rice field (at the time of harvest).
Dr. Sai Mtwe Maung
, 6 March 1998

From with the revealing text:

"Starting from the center, the white circle illustrates the moon, for that we are so pure and peace-loving people. Red stripe is for bravery and courage, Green represents our mysterious evergreen mountain plateaus and agriculture while Yellow sympolizes the color of Buddhism for us we are mostly devout Buddhist."

Jarig Bakker, 19 July 1999

Editor's note: while is still good as of 16 October 2001, is no longer valid.

The Shan Herald Agency for News (SHAN) gives more details on the history of the State and of its flag:

"The Shan National Day, February 7 1947 symbolises the day when all the Shan Leaders and peoples of the Shan State got together to adopt the Shan Flag and the National Anthem. [...] On the 12th February 1947 Shan and other non-Burman Ethnic Leaders signed the “Panglong Agreement” with Bogyoke Aung San, who represented the Burman Ethnic State, Burma Proper, to ask the British Government for joint independence. A Union Constitution was drafted and passed in 1947, which was witnessed by the British Government Officials. Thus the Union of Burma came into existence. According to the Agreement and Constitution the Union of Burma was made up of several states and not one single state, “Myanmar or Burma” as termed by the SPDC and as perceived by some international communities. The Agreement also stated that all member states should have equal status and equal opportunities and that the Shan State and the Karenni State have the right to secede from the Union after a period of ten years, which was the year 1958. [...] The non- Burman ethnic nationals were betrayed and The Panglong Agreement” dishonoured by the Burmese Military Regimes when they staged a coup and immobilised Shan Leaders by putting them in prison. The Constitution was destroyed and the Union of Burma dissolved.[...]


The Shan State (4,416,000 inhabitants in 1994; 155,801 sq. km; capital city Taunggy) is located in the east of Myanmar; it has borders with China, Laos and Thailand.
Ivan Sache
, 8 February 2006

Shan Army flag

[Flag of the Shan Army] image by Jaume Ollé, 13 January 1997

Some time ago I posted a flag of the Shan, but no attribution of the group or use of the flag. Now I have redrawn this flag according to specifications. The flag is used by the United Army of the Shan Country. It was designed by the general Chao Khun Sa, leader of the Peoples Army of the Shan Land and was hoisted for the first time on 7 February 1962. The image here is based on an original image from several photos and a plate provided some years ago by Mr. Khun Sa to the vexillologist Mr. Gaurgias.
Jaume Ollé
, 13 January 1997, 14 February 2003

"The Shan State Army (S.S.A.) was founded in the 1960's by several rebel groups and was funded by taxes on drugs. In May 1973, the Burmese government signed an agreement with the USA (which provided helicopters) and began a campaign against poppy cultivation and the Shan nationalists who took benefit of it. The Chinese-Shan Khun Sa (alias Shan Shi-fu), an opium trafficker, created a militia between 1965 and 1969 to help the government and established for himself the Shan United Army (S.U.A.). He joined in 1985 with another adventurer named Mo Heing (alias Korn Jerng), who had left the S.U.A. to create his own organization, the Shan United Revolutionary Army (S.U.R.A.) which, in 1982, had merged with a scission of the Shan State Army (S.S.A.) to form the Tai Revolutionary Army (T.R.A.). Merging of S.U.A. and T.R.A. created the Muang Thai Army, commanded by Khun Sa, and the United Shan State Council, presided by his uncle Khun Saeng and later by Mo Heing, who died in July 1991 and was replaced by Khun Sa. This so-called Shan nationalist movement is nothing but a drug trafficking organization. The Shan United Army was constituted in 1993 by ca. 8,000 men, including a lot of children. In January 1996, the Burmese army seized Ho Mong, the headquarters of Khun Sa." [eun] The flag is similar to that shown above, but with proportions 2:3. The Shan State has a distinct flag.
Ivan Sache
, 16 September 1999

The flag shown here is, of course, the one of the Muong Thai army. Also known is the flag of SURA, the Restoration Council flag, the SSPP, and finally the Shan State Army flag, which was probably used from 1964/65 to 1991 at least. It is not know if was also used after 1996 because it is known only from television images, all coming from before 1990. The flag of SSA before 1991 is red over green, with a yellow triangle at hoist (like in the Philippine or Czech flags), according to Vexillinfo 48/84. The lower part is quoted as black like other flags of Burmese guerrillas seen only in TV, but I believe that is clear that the green is the correct color (thus using the Shan national colors). Frequently in televised images dark green and black are confused.
Jaume Ollé, 14 February 2003

Shan Democratic Union

[Flag of the Shan Democratic Union] image by Jorge Candeias, 2 August 1999

From, the home page of the Shan Democratic Union, with a logo which should be a flag.
Jarig Bakker
, 2 May 1999.

Turned into a FOTW-standard GIF. I touched up everything but the text in the scroll.
Jorge Candeias
, 2 August 1999.

There is not much more to it than the logo. The SDU was founded abroad in 1996 and wants an independent Shanland, with a better life of everybody. I guess the logo was made some time ago by an enthusiastic member, who since left to do some mathematics, as usually happens. they use the Shan flag on their homepage, so their logo wouldn't be a very "official" flag (if at all...)"
Jarig Bakker
, 2 August 1999

Some years ago I saw on TV a documentary about the opium triangle. This way several Shan flags were made known to me: Shan national flag; the flag of the Shan State United Army; the flag of the Shan State United Party; and one of another party or army that was unidentified until close to three years or so. More than two years ago I found in the web the logo that you posted or similar, and I identified the panther in the loga as the same as the one in the unidentified flag. I assume then that the flag that I saw was the one of the Shan democratic Union or their predecessor. The flag was red with white panther (1/3) in center and flew in a higher shaft in a military guerrilla headquarters in the jungle.
Jaume Ollé
, 8 August 1999

Kokang (First Special Region)

Myanmar National Democratic Alliance

[Flag of Kokang] image by Jaume Ollé, 31 August 2009

Two flags are attributed to Myanmar National Democratic Alliance - a Kokang militia engaged in the recent fighting with the Myanmarese junta's army. I found a lot of info on one of these flags, but in Chinese only, and my attempts to machine-translate it returned only some nonsense. The first flag was reported years ago by Jaume Ollé and is featured on the Catalonian Wikipedia:

[Flag of Kokang] image by Jaume Ollé, 31 August 2009

The other one, which might be a newer version, appears on [scroll down about 3/4 of the page, just after Shan State] and at

To help with untangling a bit the history, past and recent, of this country, see:

[Flag of Kokang] image provided by Chrystian Kretowicz, 31 August 2009

Also, I have in my files what looks like a flag and was found on the webpage of the Kokang (royal) Government-in-exile (now defunct). It was in Chinese only, so I couldn't verify what it is exactly. Any help with further research on it would be greatly appreciated.
Chrystian Kretowicz, 31 August 2009

A photo of the flag of Kokang Youth Federation is shown at:
Chrystian Kretowicz, 31 August 2009