Flag of the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic
This flag was adopted by the Byelorussian SSR on December 25, 1951. Prior to this, the flag was red with the Cyrillic characters БССР (BSSR) in gold in the top-left corner, surrounded by a gold border. Between 1937 and the adoption of the above flag in the 1940s, the flag was the same, but with a gold hammer and sickle above the Cyrillic characters and no border. Between 1919 and 1937, the flag was red, with the Cyrillic characters ССРБ (SSRB) in the top left-hand corner. In early 1919, a plain red flag was used. The final BySSR flag was used until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. A flag based on this design is used as the current national flag of Belarus.
Design on the 1951 flag
In the end of the 1940s, the political need had arisen to have somewhat visually different designs of the flags of the USSR republics, especially for those that were UN members. For the BSSR flag, the image of the Belarusian folk design had been finally chosen as a distinctive feature of the flag. Then the picture of the embroidery on the «ruchnik» (handtowel) had been found in the pre-World War II archives of the Belpramsavyet. The embroidery had been made in 1917 by peasant Ms. Matrona Markyevich of the village Kastsilishcha of the Sennin region, and had been named «The Rising Sun». Artist M. I. Gusyew had prepared the project of the BSSR flag, basing it on the embroidery, with several symbolic elements added.
Symbolically, the design on the BSSR flag is decoded as follows (considering design strip positioned horizontally):
- the central rombe figure symbolises the rising Sun;
- the horn-like figures to the left and right of it symbolise wealth and welfare;
- the figure inside of the rombe is the «key to happiness»;
- the rectangular figure with the smaller rectangulars adjoining from the left and right is the «votive sign», expressing the desire for fulfilling of the hopes;
- the pattern figure symbolises bread (that was absent from the original embroidery, added after some discussion) ;
Note: All proper names and places' names in this article are rendered in BGN/PCGN.
Previous flags of the Soviet era
Before 1951, several different flags had been in use since the Revolution. The earliest flag was plain red, and was used in 1919 during the existence of the Lithuanian-Byelorussian SSR. After the formation of the Byelorussian SSR, the lettering ССРБ (SSRB) was added in gold to the top hoist. This design was changed in 1937, when a hammer and sickle and red star were placed above the letters; at the same time, the typeface was changed, and the text of the lettering was altered to БССР (BSSR). During the 1940s, the hammer and sickle and red star were removed from the flag, and a gold border was added to the letters. This flag remained in use until the adoption of the 1951 flag.
- Басаў А. Н., Куркоў І. М., Флагі Беларусі ўчора і сёння / Пер. А. Н. Найдовіч. – Мн.: Полымя, 1994. ISBN 5-345-00730-6