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Flag of General Derge Se (Tibet)

Last modified: 2015-08-15 by zoltán horváth
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[Flag of General Derge Se]
image by Corentin Chamboredon, 20 March 2014


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I found a new Tibetan flag. We can see a photograph of it in The Story of Tibet: Conversations with the Dalai Lama, written by Thomas Laird and the 14th Dalai Lama. You can find the book on Google Books. The photo is on the third plate (p. 264) and its caption on the next one.
The caption reads: "General Derge Sey's Tibetan flag (facing, top left), Markham, Tibet, 1949. It was probably given to the Chinese when Derge Sey surrendered in 1950."
And we can read in the list of illustrations (p. XV): "p. 8. Top left, photograph of the Tibetan Flag, which belonged to General Derge Sey, the Tibetan general who surrendered to Chinese in 1950 at Markham, Tibet, 1949. Photograph by Ellis R. Back: shot on a kodachrome slide, in Markham."
Derge Se, born Phuntsok Dorje, was the son of the prince of Derge, in eastern Tibet. He fled from a Chinese invasion in 1908 to go to Lhasa where he was appointed General in the Tibetan Army.
Despite its little size, we can zoom on the flag (thanks to Google). It is basically the Tibetan flag, but it seems square rather than rectangular. We can see on the hoist three piece of cloth lighter than the golden / yellow border: two squares on top and bottom and a triangle in the middle. I guess this is the Tibetan heading system. Unlike the Tibetan flag, there are no flaming jewels above the wishing gem in the lions' paws (they only raise their background paws). Instead, there is a red or orange (it's hard to say as the colours have waned) kalachakra symbol, but the lions don't hold it. Finally, there is a golden "da" letter (ད, if I'm correct) above the sun. This letter probably stands for "dapön" (General).
Some words about the Kalachakra : the word is used both for a tantric deity and its philosophy and practices. Its symbol is called the "The Tenfold Powerful One" and consists of an ornamental ring of fire, then the main symbol which combines seven individual syllables, on top are a crescent, a disc and a curved shape, making ten. The syllabes are written in lantsa script. Surrounding the main symbol is a kind of frame made of flames, which corresponds to the outermost "Circle of Wisdom" of the mandala. On the left and right of the actual Tenfold Powerful symbol are the Lantsa characters for E and VAM, representing the union of respectively emptiness (E) and bliss (VAM).
More information at: kalachakranet.org
Corentin Chamboredon, 2 December 2008