Flag of Indonesia

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Republic of Indonesia
Flag of Indonesia.svg
Names Sang Saka Merah-Putih, Bendera Merah-Putih or Merah-Putih
Use National flag and ensign
Proportion 2:3
Adopted 17 August 1945 (Original)
17 August 1950 (Official)
Design A horizontal bicolour of red and white
Naval Jack of Indonesia.svg
Variant flag of Republic of Indonesia
Name Ular-Ular Perang (Naval Jack)
Use Naval ensign

The Flag of Indonesia is a simple bicolour with two equal horizontal bands, red (top) and white (bottom) with an overall ratio of 2:3.[1] It was introduced and hoisted in public at the Indonesian Declaration of Independence on 17 August 1945 in Pegangsaan Timur street in Jakarta, and again when the Dutch formally transferred sovereignty on 17 August 1950. The design of the flag has remained unchanged since.

The flag of Indonesia is graphically identical to the Flag of Monaco, with a slight difference only in the ratio of its dimensions.[2]

The Naval Jack of Indonesia is reserved for sole use by the Indonesian Navy. It flies from the mast of every active Indonesian war ship.[3] The design of the jack is described as nine alternating stripes of red and white. It is nicknamed Ular-ular Perang (War Pennant or literally "War Snakes"), probably due to the stripes' design. The naval jack dates to the age of Majapahit Empire. The Majapahit Empire, renowned for its great maritime strength, flew similar jacks on its vessels.[4]


Hoisting of the Bendera Pusaka moment during the Proclamation of Indonesian Independence on 17 August 1945

The flag's colours are derived from the banner of the 13th century Majapahit Empire.[5] However, it has been suggested that the red and white symbolism can trace its origin to the older common Austronesian mythology of the duality of Mother Earth (red) and Father Sky (white). This is why these colours appear in so many flags throughout Austronesia, from Tahiti to Madagascar.[6] The earliest records of the red and white panji or pataka (a long flag along a curved bamboo pole) can be found in the Pararaton chronicle; according to this source, the Jayakatwang troops from Gelang-Gelang hoisted the red and white banner during their invasion of Singhasari in the early 12th century. This suggests that even before the Majapahit era, the red and white colours were already revered and used as the kingdom's banner in the Kediri era (1042-c.1222).

Red and white textile colouring was available in ancient Indonesia. White is the natural colour of woven cotton fabrics, while red is one of the earliest natural dyes, acquired either from teak leaves, the flowers of Averrhoa bilimbi, or the skin of mangosteen fruits.

It was not only the Javanese kingdoms that used red and white. The battle flag of King Sisingamangaraja IX of Batak lands bore an image of white twin swords called piso gaja dompak against a red background.[7] During the Aceh War of 1873-1904, Aceh warriors used a battle flag with the image of a sword, star and crescent, sun, and some Quranic script in white on a red background.[8] The red and white flag of the Buginese Bone kingdom in South Sulawesi is called Woromporang.[9] The Balinese Badung (Puri Pamecutan) royal banner is red, white, and black,[10] probably of Majapahit origin. During the Java War (1825–1830) Prince Diponegoro also used a red and white banner.

In the early 20th century these colours were revived by students and then nationalists, as an expression of nationalism against the Dutch. The modern red and white flag which was first flown in Java in 1928, was prohibited under Dutch rule. Upon Indonesia's declaration of independence on 17 August 1945 it was adopted as the national flag, and has been in use ever since.[11]

Alternative origin[edit]

A moment after the blue stripe of Dutch flag was torn into Indonesian flag color, red and white, in Hotel Yamato (now Hotel Majapahit), Surabaya

There is another story about the flag of Indonesia, which is significantly related to the flag of the Netherlands. Under the colonial rule of the Dutch, the Netherlands (red-white-blue) flag was flown over Indonesia, while the flag of Indonesia (red-white), which was already created by 1930, was prohibited from being flown. A famous event, the "Hotel Yamato incident", happened on 19 September 1945, on the roof-top of Hotel Majapahit in downtown Surabaya, where young Indonesian revolutionaries tore away the blue part of the Dutch flag flown over the hotel to change it to the Indonesian flag in the lead-up to the Battle of Surabaya. The blue element in the Dutch flag was understood as representing the "blue-blooded" aristocracy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Conversely, the flag's red element represented the blood shed by anti-colonial nationalists in the War of Independence, while the white element could be understood to symbolise the purity of the Indonesian people.[11]


The official name of the flag is Sang Saka Merah-Putih (meaning "lofty bicolour Red and White") according to Article 35 of the 1945 Constitution. The flag is commonly called Bendera Merah-Putih (Red-and-White Flag). Occasionally, it is also called Sang Dwiwarna (The bicolour). Sang Saka Merah-Putih (The Lofty Red-and-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 Sukarno's house a few moments after he proclaimed Indonesia's independence on 17 August 1945. The original Bendera Pusaka was sewn by Mrs. Fatmawati Sukarno, and was hoisted every year in front of the presidential palace during the independence day ceremony. It was hoisted for the last time on 17 August 1968. Since then it has been preserved and replaced by a replica since the original flag was deemed to be too fragile.[1]


Several opinions have been expressed on the meaning of the red and white in the Indonesian flag. One opinion is that the red stands for courage, while the white stands for purity. Another is that red represents the human body or physical life, while white represents the soul or spiritual life; together they stand for a complete human being.[11]

As Sukarno said:

Red is the symbol of courage, White is the symbol of purity. Our flag has been there since 600 years ago.

Traditionally, most Indonesians have used red and white as their ceremonial colours, mixing the colour of sugar (the red colour comes from palm sugar or gula aren) and rice (white in colour). Inarguably, until today, both of these are the major components of daily Indonesian cuisine or cooking. The Majapahit Empire have the same colours in its flag.[11]


Paspampres personnel from the "State Protocol Escort Battalion (Yonwalprotneg)" raising the Flag of Indonesia in the national palace yard
The National Monument with a row of Indonesian flags

Regulation and flag protocol[edit]

The flag is described in Article 35, Chapter XV, of the Constitution of Indonesia; Government Regulation No. 24/2009; and Government Regulation No.40/1958.[13]

The national flag shall be Sang Merah-Putih (The Red-and-White)

— Article 35, Chapter XV, Constitution of Indonesia[14]

The raising of the flag should be conducted in the time between sunrise until sunset, but in certain circumstances, it can be done at night. In daily use, the flag should be flown at every commemoration such as Indonesian Independence Day on 17 August every year, by the citizens who has a right to use it at house, building or office, educational units, public transport and private transport and the representative office of Indonesia in overseas.[15]

It can be used as the cover of the coffin of President or former Presidents, Vice President or former Vice Presidents, Members of Cabinet, Speaker of People's Representative Council, and Head of Government, members of the Indonesian Armed Forces, and person who is the members of Indonesian National Police who died in service, or an Indonesian citizen who contributed to their nation as a badge of honor.[15]

The flag must be displayed everyday in places such as Presidential Palace, all of government and private office buildings, border posts and outer islands in the territory of Indonesia, and National Heroes Cemetery.[15]

The flag should be displayed everywhere on special days, which are:[13]


The flag should be displayed at half-mast as a sign of mourning on these days:[13]

Usually, the Indonesian flag is also flown at half-mast on 30 September, in remembrance of the 30 September Movement, but after the New Order ended in 1998, this tradition stopped. However, in recent days, it still continues in some staff without official status by the government.[16]

Prohibited acts[edit]

Based on Government Regulation No.24/ 2009, all citizens are prohibited from:[13]

  • To destroy, tear, trample, burn, or perform other actions with the intention of tarnish, insult, or degrade the honour of the national flag;
  • To wear the national flag for billboards or commercials;
  • To fly the national flag in a torn, smudged, crumpled, or dull condition;
  • To print, embroider, and write letters, numbers, images or other signs and put a badge or any objects on the national flag;
  • To use the national flag to cover a ceiling, roof, for wrapping or covering goods that can degrade the honor of national flag;

Letting the flag fall to the ground is also strictly prohibited, although it's not regulated by law. Most Indonesians consider it a humiliation to the flag, nationalism, and also heroes who have been fighting for independence from colonialism.[17]

Flag anthem[edit]

The flag anthem was composed by Ibu Sud with the title Berkibarlah Benderaku (Flutter-on, O My Flag). She wrote it after seeing the persistence of Joesoef Ronodipoero (id) (Jusuf Ronodipuro), who was the head of Radio Republik Indonesia (RRI). Ahead of Operation Product in 1947, where Dutch forces acted against the Republic of Indonesia, he refused to lower the Red-and-White flag at the RRI offices, despite being threatened with firearms by Dutch troops.[18]

Indonesian lyrics
Berkibarlah Benderaku!
Lambang suci gagah perwira
Di seluruh pantai Indonesia
Kau tetap pujaan bangsa
Siapa berani menurunkan engkau
Serentak rakyatmu membela
Sang Merah-Putih yang perwira
Berkibarlah selama-lamanya!
English translation
Flutter-on, O my flag!
As symbol of purity and courage
Along the coast of Indonesia
You are still the Idol of the nation
Who dares to lowering thee
It defend by your people simultaneously
The brave The Red-and-White
Flutter-on forever!


  1. ^ a b "National Flag, Coat of Arms, Anthem". Embassy of Indonesia, Oslo, Norway. 1 May 2007. Archived from the original on 19 October 2007. Retrieved 22 June 2009. 
  2. ^ "What is the difference between the flag of Indonesia and Monaco? - Quora". www.quora.com. Retrieved 2017-03-13. 
  3. ^ "(Indonesian) KRI Karang Unarang-985 Akhiri Pengabdian". Pikiran Rakyat. 22 October 2010. Retrieved 21 December 2010. 
  4. ^ "(Indonesian) TNI : terima kasih ku terdalam padamu". Connie Rahakundini on Multiply.com. Retrieved 21 December 2010. 
  5. ^ [1][dead link]
  6. ^ [2]
  7. ^ [3]
  8. ^ "Sejarah Bendera Merah Putih". Suryantara.wordpress.com. 30 October 2007. Retrieved 11 February 2017. 
  9. ^ [4]
  10. ^ ian macdonald. "Flags in Bali". Fahnenversand.de. Retrieved 20 September 2012. 
  11. ^ a b c d "Indonesia". Flags of the World. 6 September 2006. Retrieved 26 December 2007. 
  12. ^ http://www.worldstatesmen.org/Indonesia.htm
  13. ^ a b c d "UNDANG-UNDANG REPUBLIK INDONESIA : NOMOR 24 TAHUN 2009" (PDF). Badanbahasa.kemdikbud.go.id. Retrieved 2017-02-23. 
  14. ^ [5][dead link]
  15. ^ a b c "Mencermati UU No 24 Tahun 2009 tentang Bendera, Bahasa, dan Lambang Negara serta Lagu Kebangsaan". Angagaraq.org. 12 August 2009. Retrieved 11 February 2017. 
  16. ^ [6][dead link]
  17. ^ "Peraturan Pemerintah Republik Indonesia : Nomor 40 Tahun 1958" (PDF). Hukum.unsrat.ac.id. Retrieved 2017-02-23. 

External links[edit]