FLAGS AND SYMBOLS OF THE ROYAL SULTANATES OF SULU - LANAO AREA AND MAGUINDANAO
This web site was born, revised
and corrected from the ashes of my old web site: www.webalice.it/paopadd
It is dedicated to the Peoples of the Royal Sultanates of Sulu, Lanao (Ranao) Area and Maguindanao, the goal of it is to show history, flags and symbols sometimes unknown of these glorious Kingdoms.
FLAGS OF THE SULU SULTANATE OF YESTERDAY AND TODAY *
The muslim population of the south of the Philippines, in the vast mosaic of peoples of the far east do not represent certainly an exeption to make use of flags and standards of various types.From Sulu to Palawan until Mindanao (where by the maranao the utilization of flags, standards and vexilloids is regulated by a traditional code who described forms, colors ways and times of use.) flags have always got an important role: Especially in the Sulu archipelago that was a center of a Sultanate, named also "Empire of Sulu", who arrived at his highest glory toward 1675 and survives until 1919. The first known flag of Sulu is that one described from some travellers between wich the french naturalist Pierre Sonnerat wich in its report of the travel carried out to Sulu between 1774 and 1781 speaks about a flag "... white broadside of black and with in the center the coat of arms of the Sultan that is the Mecca's door..."
The white field would represent the colors of the Borbouns of France, country with wich the Sultan of Sulu estabilished privileged relationships and starts negotiations in order to make to his Realm a french protectorate and to contrast therefore the spanish egemony.
The current hypothesis wich the white and the black colors would have been featured from the flag of Prussia , flag who the Sultan would have seen in occasion of the prussian shipment of 1763 in the orient seas that touched also the coasts of Sulu is not supported from sure tests. In truth also the resemblance with the flag of the Borbouns of France (or also of Spain ) would seems accidental.
The black frame and the own symbols of the sultanate do not find in fact some comparison on the european flags. But there is more to say : the Sultan coat of arms that several testimonies, wich that of Sonnerat identify with the Mecca's door would represent the stylized grave markers of funeral monuments pertaining to two fundamental personages in the history of the Sultanate of Sulu it is worth
to say : Sultan Shariful Hashim, the first Sultan of Sulu, died in 1431 and Sharif Ali, known as Sultan Berkat of Brunei, who introduced the islamic religion in Sulu and died in 1432 .
According to some scholars the coat of arms of the Sultan could not represent the Mecca's doorwhy until 1882 no Sultan of Sulu had idea as it was ;it was in such year in fact that Sultan Badaruddin II gone in pilgrimage to the Holy City of Islam and was the first reigning of Sulu to complete this action.
The hypothesis seems a little risky because the remarkable presence of missionaries from the Arabic Peninsula and the exchanges and trades between Sulu and the other countries sure carried in the archipelago news and informations on the cradle of Islam and his most important Temple and fantastic descriptions that rendered it glory.
We find with surprise two similars ( but not equals )symbols to those of the white flag broadside of black on another of many flags of Sulu called "moro battle flag " going back for some to the period of Sultan Sharafuddin ( 1791-1808 ) and for other scholars to what it goes from 1899 to 1919.
Two various considerations carry to these divergent datings.
In accordance with another theory ; between 1791 and 1808 the Sultanate caught up its maximum splendor extending to five territories :kalimantan, Sabah,Palawan, Basilan and Sulu.
As many stars were put on the war flag , in homage to the traditions of the State , the coat of arm of the monarch was mantained inherited from the black and white flag used since 1433. This hypothesis leave on the field various doubts on the fact that the present symbols on the moro battle flag are the same of that one cited by Sonnerat .The two stylized grave markers seems rather two typical shields of the Sulu area morover , also admitting that they are two grave markers they appear deprived of the pyramidal or triangular at the top and the reason is not undestood.We can say that observing other moro battle flag s of the same age the symbols with the shape of stylized shield are present in several positions and shapes, sometimes horizontally, sometimes diagonally.If it is true that they represent two grave markers of the Sultans, what is the meaning of a grave marker put in horizontal or in diagonal ?
The other interpretation that differs in a remarkable way from the previous one, makes to go back the flag to the period since 1899 to 1919.This is based on the modernity of the flag compared to the tradition, for the arrangment of the symbols and for the structure of it, with native figures placed on a flag of american appearance.
In effect the use of the blue canton with stars , one for every territory is sure of american imprint and could go back exactly to 1899 year of the come of the americans in Sulu and Mindanao.
In 1800 various states in the world used stars at the american style on their flags with the symbolic meaning of one star for every administrative division, after to come in contact, direct or indirect with the United States.It must say who beyond the described flags exist, having discovered a dozen in a Spanish Museum other flags already catalogued in terms of dating and placed between the two flags but to study ulteriorly for the exact attribution to the Sultan or to the Datus of the archipelago and for their symbology.
Anyway with the fall of the Sultanate and the "abdication " of the Sultan Jamalul Kiram II , the symbols and the flags of Sulu almost definitly disappeared , but already from before the americans had limited the use of them making official in treaties stipulated with the Sultan the use of the flags and symbols of U.S.A. .
* This article was published in italian language on "Vexilla Italica" the magazine of C.I.S.V. - Italian Center of Vexillological Studies.(Year XXXI-N.1 (57) January-June 2004).
Courtesy of the President of C.I.S.V. , Dr. Roberto Breschi
NOTE : The terms : "Moro " or " Moros" , doesn't have any pejorative meaning by the author of this web site.
In some cases there is the word : "Iranun pirates", it's just the word used by spanish sources, it doesn't reflect the opinion of the author of Royal Panji.net