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Sri Lanka

Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka

Last modified: 2024-05-11 by ian macdonald
Keywords: sri lanka | ceylon | lion | sword | leaf: bo | pipul tree | buddhism | police | blue ensign | bo leaves |
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Shri Lanka Prajatantrika Samajavadi Janarajaya
Ilangai Jananayaka Socialisa Kudiarasu

[Sri Lanka] 1:2, 5:9 |   image by Zachary Harden, 10 May 2017

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Description of the Flag

Red(dish) rectangular panel bordered yellow containing a yellow lion passant holding a sword upright and four pipul leaves, one in each corner, and next to the hoist two vertical stripes, green and orange, also bordered yellow together. (This flag just does not permit a simple description. I'm sure there must be an official description from legislation in English which would be nice inclusion.)
Željko Heimer, 22 January 2003

After discussions with Sri Lanka based vexillologist and flag maker, Lalyn Fernando, I submit an updated image of the Sri Lanka flag. These do reference the document "SLS 693-1985" (referenced below by Martin Grieve). I have to agree that the specifications are very strange because I had this very document from 2011; there is no reference to the width of the green/saffron bars and the width of the dark red area where the lion sits. Also, as for the colors, they reference Munsell and CIE (in 1990 more colors were added for Munsell but I have not seen anything official in the terms of Pantone or any other color system). But also I noticed the sizes do not scale; for the image I did at Wikipedia I used 600x1200 (Flag size 5). If I scaled it down to 150x300 (Flag size 4), nothing matches at all (41.25 actual length of the green and saffron bars versus the 40 that SLS 693-1985 calls for).
Zachary Harden, 10 May 2017

The specifications, as mentioned above, do not scale and do not even match. The first confusion is that Mr. Fernando makes the national flag using inches and feet and the standard uses mm for all sizes. For the comparison between standard and practice, I am going to use Size 7 (1800 x 900 mm) and the closest match he used for a recent government tender (72" x 36"). For the green and saffron, they are 245 mm long each and 756 wide (as mentioned, the standard does not give the width of a lot of elements, so you will have to subtract the gold border, 72 mm, from each side. After taking another 72 mm away from the length, you are supposed to have a rectangle of 1080 mm that is reddish in color. At the end of this reddish area, there is supposed to be a 72 mm area that is gold. Here is my problem; once I place the reddish area even between the saffron to match the hoist area (72:245:245:72:1080), there is 86 mm left over. According to the standard, the area after the reddish color is supposed to match a, so 72, but there is still 14 mm left. This is still more than the plus/minus 5 tolerance that the standard allows for the flag design. There is a note regarding hem size being 15 mm for this flag, but I will use another size that does not have a hem and I will find the same issues. Back to the 72x36" flag, the size is more faithful to the standard as, according to Mr. Fernando, is the 72" flag would 3 + 11 +11 + 3 + 41+ 3 and the 3 is matching all around the top and bottom of the flag. For a flag that does not have a hem standard, Size 1 (150x75 mm), a is 6 mm and the green and saffron is 20 mm each. After getting 6:20:20:6, you have a 90 mm reddish area, you have 8 mm left over and does not make the fly edge even with the hoist edge. While the standard does give a tolerance of plus/minus 2, so it is in the acceptable range allowed by the standard. As for the scaling, once I took the 150x75 mm flag and turned into 200x100, the red and gold was able to scale fine but the green and saffron went to 26.667 mm while the standard calls for 27 mm. I wonder if this is a case of trying to use whole numbers but as with the smaller flag, you still have the issue of the fly end not being even with the hoist end, yet the tolerance is still followed.
Zachary Harden, 29 May 2018

Construction sheet

As shown in Album des Pavillons (2000):

[Sri Lanka] image by Željko Heimer

The lion is heavily based on the Corel Clipart of the national coat of arms (where the lion is the central device). Otherwise the flag dimensions etc. are based on Album des Pavillons (2000) (where all images are "shorter" than designated in writing; I followed text). Colours are also based on the Album's Pantone approximations: dark red 184c, red 206c, orange 151c, yellow 116c, green 356c. If I am not much mistaken, the dark red above is used in the national flag while red (which is still different from the standard red) is used in the naval rank flags.  The construction details are given in Album des Pavillons, measuring the rectangular panels and yellow borders, hoistwise to lengthwise (2+21+2):(2+8+8+2+28+2)
Željko Heimer, 22 January 2003

From "Specifications for the National Flag of Sri Lanka":

[Sri Lanka] image by Martin Grieve, 15 September 2006

Christopher Southworth was in possession of the official dimensions of this flag from "Specifications for the National Flag of Sri Lanka" issued by the Sri Lanka Standards institution, Colombo,1985. He had obtained this information via the late William G. Crampton, whose name will be familiar to a very great many Vexillological enthusiasts. I altered my original drawing to suit the figures that Chris gave to me, and must say that the first thing about them I did not like were the overall proportion: 75x150.1! As we can see, the Lion is a great deal bigger than the version illustrated in Album des Pavillons 2000, and the width of the vertical yellow borders is slightly thinner than the width of the 2 horizontal ones. An ugly state of affairs indeed, in my opinion.

It is not entirely impossible that these specifications have been revised since 1985, but for posterity, here is my version based on the official figures given at that time, and maintaining the same RGB values as shown above.
Martin Grieve, 15 September 2006

Shorter Variant

[Sri Lanka] 5:9  image by Željko Heimer

A note to the image in Album des Pavillons (2000) explains that the flag is also used in ratio 5:9. The construction details for this are not given, but I assumed that
all three fields (green, orange, red) are proportionally contracted. What's the use of this flag variation?
Željko Heimer, 22 January 2003

Shade of red on the flag

Looking at some Sri Lankan websites, I have noticed that all flags (at least those I noticed) used locally use the normal medium red shade for the field behind the lion. With this I mean the real flags flying on flagpoles and similar. Only the flags drawn (possibly by non-residents) use the darker shade. Obviously the shade of red is not "differentiated" here (i.e. it "does not matter").
Željko Heimer, 23 January 2003

The Flag in the National Constitution

The current Constitution of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka was placed before the Parliament on 3 August 2000.

Chapter I
The People, the State and Sovereignty

Article 4
The National Flag of the Republic of Sri Lanka shall be the Lion Flag depicted in the Third Schedule.
The Third Schedule shows an image of the flag.
Source: Vagnat & Poels (2000)
Ivan Sache, 23 January 2003

The 2000 draft Constitution was not adopted. Constitution of 1978 is still operative.
M.H.M. Salman, 14 March 2006

The protocol manual for the London 2012 Olympics (Flags and Anthems Manual London 2012) provides recommendations for national flag designs. Each NOC was sent an image of the flag, including the PMS shades, for their approval by LOCOG. Once this was obtained, LOCOG produced a 60 x 90 cm version of the flag for further approval. So, while these specs may not be the official, government, version of each flag, they are certainly what the NOC believed the flag to be. For Sri Lanka: PMS 109 yellow, 361 green, 150 brown, 194 red and black. The vertical flag is simply the horizontal version turned 90 degrees clockwise.
Ian Sumner, 11 October 2012