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 Independence declaration ceremony on 17 August 1945 in Pegangsaan Timur street and Independence from the Netherlands on 17 August 1950. The design of the flag has remained the same since.

The Naval Jack of Indonesia is reserved for sole use by the Indonesian Navy. It flies from every active Indonesian war ship mast.[2] 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.[3]


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

Its colours are derived from the banner of the 13th century Majapahit Empire.[4] However it was suggested that the reverence for the colours red and white can trace its origin to older common Austronesian mythology of Mother Earth and Father Sky; both symbolise in colours red (earth) and white (sky). This is one of the reasons why the colours red and white appear in many of the flags throughout Austronesia — from Tahiti to Indonesia and Madagascar. White and Red would also later on symbolise the duality of nature.[5] The earliest record of the use of red and white panji or pataka (long flag along curved bamboo pole) were written in Pararaton; according to this source, the troops of Jayakatwang from Gelang-gelang hoisted the red and white banner during their invasion to Singhasari. This suggested that even before Majapahit era, the red and white colours already revered and used as kingdom's banner since Kediri era. The application of red and white textile colouring is available in ancient Indonesia. White is the natural colour of woven cotton fabrics, while red is one of the earliest natural dye discovered by native acquired from the teak leaves, the flowers of Averrhoa bilimbi or the skin of mangosteen fruits.

Not only Javanese kingdoms that used red and white colours, the battle flag of King Sisingamangaraja IX of Batak lands also uses red and white as emblem; with the image of white twin swords called piso gaja dompak against red background.[6] During Aceh War, Aceh warriors also used red and white battle flag, with the image of sword, star and crescent, sun, and also part of Quranic script.[7] Red and white are also used in the flag of Buginese Bone kingdom in South Sulawesi, the flag is called Woromporang.[8] The Balinese Badung (Puri Pamecutan) royal banner also contains red and white element, their flag is red, white, and black[9] that probably also derived from Majapahit origin. During Java War (1825–1830) Prince Diponegoro also used red and white banner.

Later, these colours 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 17 August 1945, when Indonesia declared independence and has been in use since.[10]

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 the late 1930s, was prohibited from being exhibited. To symbolise 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 colours from the blue-coloured section 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 main reason was because the blue element in the Dutch flag was understood as standing for 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.[10]


The official name of the flag is Sang Merah-Putih (The 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 bicolor). 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 Soekarno's house a few moments after he proclaimed Indonesia's independence on 17 August 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 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.[10]

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.[10]


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.[11]

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

— Article 35, Chapter XV, Constitution of Indonesia[12]

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.[13]

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.[13]

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.[13]

The flag should displayed everywhere on special days as follow:[11]


The flag should displayed at half-mast as a sign of mourning on these days:[11]

Usually, Indonesian flag 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.[14]

Prohibited acts[edit]

Based on Government Regulation No.24/ 2009, all citizens are prohibited from:[11]

  • To destroy, tear, trample, burn, or perform other actions with the intention of tarnish, insult, or degrade the honor 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.[15]

Flag anthem[edit]

The song was created by Ibu Sud with title Berkibarlah Benderaku (Flutter-on, O My Flag). She made it after seeing the persistence of Jusuf Ronodipuro, the head of RRI (Radio Republik Indonesia), ahead of the Operation Product in 1947, in which he refused to lowering the Red-and-White in the office of RRI, although he was threatened with firearms by Dutch troops.[16]

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!

Similar flags[edit]

The flag is similar to the flag of Poland, which is white (top) and red (bottom), and the flag of Singapore, which has a half crescent and 5 stars in the top red band. The flag is identical to the historical flag of Alsace (former region of France), the flag of Hesse (a German state) and the flag of Monaco, excluding the ratio.

See also[edit]


  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. ^ "(Indonesian) KRI Karang Unarang-985 Akhiri Pengabdian". Pikiran Rakyat. 22 October 2010. Retrieved 21 December 2010. 
  3. ^ "(Indonesian) TNI : terima kasih ku terdalam padamu". Connie Rahakundini on Multiply.com. Retrieved 21 December 2010. 
  4. ^ [1][dead link]
  5. ^ [2][dead link]
  6. ^ [3][dead link]
  7. ^ "Sejarah Bendera Merah Putih". Suryantara.wordpress.com. 30 October 2007. Retrieved 11 February 2017. 
  8. ^ [4][dead link]
  9. ^ ian macdonald. "Flags in Bali". Fahnenversand.de. Retrieved 20 September 2012. 
  10. ^ a b c d "Indonesia". Flags of the World. 6 September 2006. Retrieved 26 December 2007. 
  11. ^ a b c d "UNDANG-UNDANG REPUBLIK INDONESIA : NOMOR 24 TAHUN 2009" (PDF). Badanbahasa.kemdikbud.go.id. Retrieved 2017-02-23. 
  12. ^ [5][dead link]
  13. ^ 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. 
  14. ^ [6][dead link]
  15. ^ "Peraturan Pemerintah Republik Indonesia : Nomor 40 Tahun 1958" (PDF). Hukum.unsrat.ac.id. Retrieved 2017-02-23. 

External links[edit]