RA State Symbol
Armenian flag is the symbol of the Republic of Armenia. The flag is a rectangular fabric with equal horizontal stripes: red at the top, blue in the middle, and orange at the bottom. For centuries these colors have been associated with the Armenian nation. The flag of Armenia was adopted on 24 August 1990 by the Supreme Council of the Republic of Armenia. On 15 June 2006 the National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia adopted the law “On the State Flag of the Republic of Armenia”. There are several interpretations of these colors and the following is the most acceptable among them: the red color symbolizes the blood shed by the Armenians in the defence of their motherland; the blue color is the country’s nature; orange is national bravery and hard-work. As to the Constitution of the Republic of Armenia, it sets the following meanings of the colors: red stands for the Armenian highlands, constant fight of the Armenian nation for survival, Christian religion, Armenia’s freedom and independence; blue symbolizes the desire of the Armenian nation to live beneath peaceful sky; orange symbolizes the creative and diligent nature of the Armenian nation. As a matter of fact, because the RA Government hasn’t defined the shades of red, blue and orange, both variants are used at the same time.
This is how the Constitution of Armenia of 1978 defines the flag: “Article 167. The flag of the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic is a red rectangular fabric with a blue full length stripe in the middle. In the top right corner, near the flagstaff, there is a picture of a hammer and sickle, below – a five-point golden-edged star. The proportion of the length of the flag to its width is 1:2”. The law “On the State Flag of the Republic of Armenia” of 24 August 1990 (№С-0076-1) approved the state flag, which happened to be the same flag of 1919, i.e. a fabric of three equal alternating horizontal stripes of red, blue and orange; the correlation of the length of the flag to its width was 1:2. And the red, blue and orange colors (Armenian national colors) of the tricolor are quite often associated with those of the flag during the rule of the Dashnak (Federalists) government. Modern shield of this party is now a pattern of a crossed feather, a sword, a spade and a flag. This image is depicted on the red flag of the party. As to the other traditional Armenian party – the Hnchaks (little bell) – “Atlas of History of Armenia” by Kh. Babasyan notes that the Hnchakyan Party applied the draft of the flag created by Ghevond Alishan. The flag has red, green and white stripes.
Various interpretations of the flag
The website http://www.noev-kovcheg.ru/ gives a draft of the flag of Armenia designed by painter Mikael Asatur Kanayan. To the traditional Armenian tricolor he has added Christian cross with Mount Ararat, Noah’s Ark, rainbow and a heart in the center. The author gives the following interpretation of the symbols.
The image of the Christian cross
The reason to introduce the Christian cross into the Armenian state flag was that we – Armenians – are eager to Live and Win. Striving to achieve full and firm Victory, we must clearly realize that this will be impossible without God’s support.
We will bring some examples to show the influence of the symbol of Christian belief on historical events. On the eve of a decisive battle Roman Emperor Constantine saw the cross sign with the lettering “THUS WIN” on himself, and at night he had the vision of Jesus Christ himself with a cross in his hand, who said that Constantine would defeat the enemy with that banner and ordered to design a military banner with the Holy Cross. Constantine obeyed God’s will and… won. The USSR won the Great Patriotic War as Stalin also fully exercised what was outlined by God and passed over to him by Metropolitan Ilya from Antioch Patriarchate, who had been praying for three days before the picture of the Mother of God asking Her to reveal how Russia could be helped. On the third day She – Virgin Mary – herself came to Ilya to tell him God’s will and to state that Russia would be destroyed if what the message comprises wasn’t fulfilled. Everything was completely done. Mother of God has stretched Her miracle-working hand of assistance to Russia several times. The ways of the Lord are inscrutable: we never know in what way we will achieve Victory. The most important thing must always be kept in mind: NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR GOD. All obstacles will vanish, just like Jericho if we fulfill our Lord’s commandments duly. Not once has the Lord fixed his eyes upon the Armenian nation, being well aware of diligence, hard work of the Armenians, evaluating their military talents and their will to win. He has twice trusted them with honorable and hard tasks. One was to be the first to carry the HOLY CROSS. Still back in the early Christian age, after the resurrection of Jesus Christ, in the Armenian Mesopotamia King Avahayr and the people of his capital were christened as Christ himself had promised. For his firm faith the King was miraculously treated of an incurable disease. And although the King was poisoned one and a half years later, the archeiropotos statue given by Christ and kept in the gates of the city protected the capital from attacks of invaders for ten centuries. The second baptizing of the Armenians occurred almost three centuries later, one and a half centuries before Christianity was adopted in Rome. God never does anything by chance, thus there was certain providence here as well. The self-devoted and heroic history of bearing the Lord’s Cross by the Armenian nation brings us later to the virtuous path as if calling for the Christian Cross to be depicted on the state flag of Armenia.
The image of the Ararat Mountains
Ararat is the cradle of contemporary humanity, the witness of greatest biblical mysteries, just as well as the symbol of Armenia, and its image on the flag would fill the heart of any Armenian with joy.
The Old Testament says: “The ark is a large ship with four angles looking like a house. It was built according to the Lord’s commandment and his measurements… Two months later, when the flood waters began to decrease, it landed on the Ararat Mountains”. Pay attention that the Bible says “Ararat Mountains” and not “Mount Ararat”. And how could the ark have appeared there after the sixty-day retreat of flood waters? The ark stopped between Great Ararat and Minor Ararat where, according to the evidence of witnesses, it still remains in ice. The draft of the flag bears the symbolic image of the ark, which fully corresponds to what was described above.
The image of a rainbow
During Noah’s first sacrifice of gratitude to God after the flood, the rainbow appeared in the sky for the first time in the history of the planet. It was a new sign of God’s unity with man. Through that sign God promised not to punish people for their sins by global flood any more. That joyful historical event occurred in the sky of our historical motherland Armenia, three or four generations prior to hero Hayk – ancestor of Torgom and the Armenian nation.
The symbol of a heart
The heart, the symbol of love, is situated in the center of the CROSS, as our Lord is Love, and we admit him directly with our hearts. It is in the heart that our Creator has placed our soul. It is a link connecting us to our Heavenly Father. If we try to give a geometrical picture of the Ararat Mountains, the ark and the rainbow, we won’t be able to express that they live and will live in the flaming hearts of Armenians. The flag should also be a symbol of our hearts and love.
Clarification on the choice of the cross
After examining the images of Cross on Armenian architectural monuments, a characteristic feature becomes evident, i.e. the Cross is depicted not in the form of a weapon for tortures, but with the joy of Salvation, just like blooming of a plant or flower in eternal life. Among these versions the one should be chosen that would harmonize mostly with other components of the flag. When creating the form of the cross the author based on two sources: the forms of crosses around Lake Van and the cross of the belfry of Ghazanchetsots church in the town of Shushy, which is the symbol and Actual result of our first victory.
The coat of arms, the flag, the motto, and the symbol have always been the “face” of the princely dynasty and national culture.
On 24 August 1990, by the law “On the State Flag of the Republic of Armenia” the state flag – the tricolor – was adopted, which was the reconstructed flag of the 1919 emblem. In 1919, during the short existence of the first Armenian Republic, the red-blue-yellow flag of the late Rubenid dynasty (Cilician Kingdom) was applied. The yellow was immediately replaced with orange as the unity of red, blue and orange was more pleasant to view. The proportion between the sides of the flag was 2:3. Practically, in 1990 after Armenia gained independence, the flag became a national symbol in the form it used to be: a fabric with three alternating horizontal stripes of red, blue and orange. However, as different to the original flag, the correlation became 2:1. The red color of the flag stands for the blood shed by the Armenians during national liberation struggle, the Christian faith and the Mountains of Ararat; the blue symbolizes the sky of united and independent Armenia, and orange stands for creative talents and diligence.
Armenia was not a monarchy for quite a long period of time; it was divided between the Ottoman and Persian Empires. The idea to design a flag belonged to students who were members of a students’ association in Paris in 1885. The students resolved to pay due respect to Victor Hugo and to go to the funeral beneath a flag uniting all Armenians. They turned to Ghevond Alishan – a clergyman, poet and intellectual to design the flag. And it was he who created the prototype of the first contemporary Armenian flag, which was a right-angled fabric with proportion of sides equal to 1:2 and with three even horizontal stripes of red, green and white. This flag looked like that of Bulgaria. Only upside down; and the color gamut was similar to that of the modern one. In the author’s conception the red color was to symbolize “Red” (Easter) Sunday, the green color stood for the “Green” (second after Easter) Sunday. White color had no meaning, it simply finished the design. Besides, Alishan created one more banner, which was known as the “Flag of Armenian nationalists”. It was also tricolor, just like the French flag but with vertical red, green and blue stripes. The colors symbolized the rainbow, which, according to the legend, Noah had witnessed when his ark landed on Mount Ararat.
Since 1828, when Armenia was included in the Russian Empire, our country had no flags. This lasted until the revolution of 1917 and the formation of the Transcaucasian Democratic Federal Republic in 1918. Besides Armenia, that union included Georgia and Azerbaijan. But the TDFR didn’t last long. On May 26 of the same year Georgia declared its independence and two days later Azerbaijan and the Armenian Democratic Republic (the First Republic) left the union. On 29 November 1920 Soviet rule was established on the territory of all the three Transcaucasian republics, and on 12 March 1922 the Transcaucasian Soviet Federal Socialist Republic (TSFSR) was declared. The flag of the TSFSR was designed in the spirit of the Soviet republics: a red fabric and a golden-edged red star. On 5 December 1936 the TSFSR was abolished and new subjects of the USSR were formed: Azerbaijani SSR, Armenian SSR and Georgian SSR. The flag of the Armenian SSR reminded that of the Union with a dark blue horizontal stripe in the middle.
Modern Armenian flag bears the traces of centuries-long history of our country. In ancient times the banners of Armenian kingdoms depicted dragons, eagles, lions and other mythological animals embodying pagan gods. After Christianity was adopted, it became a rule for every royal dynasty to apply a banner with an image of this or that animal. Thus, the flag of the Artashessyans was purple with the image of two eagles sitting back to back but looking at each other. The eagles were separated by a golden flower. During the reign of Arshakuný Herculean dynasty the position of the eagles was changed, as well as the color of the flag became blue.
In the early stage of the Soviet era the coat of arms of the Armenian SSR was a picture depicting the tops of Great and Minor Masis (Ararat) where, beneath rays of the rising sun, were the hammer and sickle, and at the mountain foot lay a bunch of grapes with leaves, wheat-ears, olive branches. Round the coat of arms there were inscriptions in Armenian “Soviet Socialist Republic of Armenia” and “Unite, proletarians of all countries”. The coat of arms was designed by Martiros Saryan and Hakob Kojoyan. Being involved within the Transcaucasian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1922, Armenia applied its own coat of arms. It was a five-point star with ornaments characteristic of Transcaucasian nations. In the center of the star, on the background of the crescent and Mount Ararat, the picture of a hammer and sickle with crossed handles was located. It is noteworthy that the shield contained some elements of the coat of arms of the Democratic Independent Republic of Georgia of 1918. In due time, in 1923, the crescent was eliminated from the shield of the TSFSR. After the collapse of the TSFSR, by the Constitution of 23 March 1937, the shield of the Armenian SSR was amended: the olive wreath was replaced by wheat-ears, the sunrise was eliminated and the hammer and sickle was illuminated by the five-point star. The inscription around the shield said: “Soviet Socialist Republic of Armenia” (in Armenian), and the one at the bottom said: “Unite, proletarians of all countries” (in Armenian and Russian). Further minor amendments of the shield of the Republic, until the collapse of the USSR, as a rule concerned the words “countries”, “Soviet” and “Republic” (in Armenian).