The Iran Flag, standard, or as it is called in old Persian, “Derafsh”, has a long and interesting history.
The first flag found in Iran is a bronze flag that dated back to 2400 BCE.
Throughout history, the designs and descriptions of some of the flags have been recorded by historians and writers. Among those, are the famous square banner of Achaemeniand Persia with the Persian falcon on it ,”Derafsh Kaviani” from the Sasanians era and “Sun & Lion Flag” from Safavid Dynasty in the 16th and 17th centuries.
Iran Flag History: Derafsh Kaviani
In the Shahname (The Book of Kings), an epic poem written by the Persian poet Ferdowsi between 977 and 1010 CE, there is a story of a blacksmith (Kaveh Ahanger) who leads an uprising against “Zahak”, the tyrant ruler and antagonist of the poem. The blacksmith puts his leather apron on a spear and “Freydon”, the good king, covers it with a thin layer of silk, ornaments, and jewels. This became the basics of the “Derafsh Kaviani” flag, which features a four-pointed star in the center, representing the four corners of the world.
“Derafsh Kaviani” is a symbol of good against evil, light against darkness in the belief of Iranians. Accordingly, you see it being carried by men and women in the current uprising of Iranians against the tyrannic Islamic Republic.
But why is there something with uncanny similarity to “Derafsh Kaviani” on the British Crown? I don’t know. I guess It is for the same reason that though the lion is not native to England, it is featured on their coat of arms!
Or it is just a short square cross. After all, Britain’s monarchy is the defender of the Christian faith!
“Derafsh Kaviani” has been carried in ancient wars by Iranians. There are coins from the Fratarakā dynasty (before the Parthian dynasty) and the Sasanian era with Derafsh Kaviani engraved on them.
It is recorded in history that “Derafsh Kaviani”, with its valuable jewels, was looted and destroyed by Arab invaders at the end of the Sasanian era. (https://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/derafs-e-kavian-)
Sun & Lion
The Sun and Lion is an ancient Iranian emblem that was on the Iran flag throughout various dynasties that ruled Iran until after the Islamic Revolution in 1980. It first appeared on the official flag of Iran during Safavid Dynasty in the 16th and 17th centuries.
There are different beliefs and opinions about the background of the Lion and Sun motif in Iran.
The State Hermitage Museum holds historical evidence of the lion and the sun flag. It is a stamp showing King Artaxerxes II (445 – 359/8 BC) facing the goddess Anahita (the deity of “the Waters” and hence associated with fertility, healing, and wisdom) who sits atop a lion. In the background to Anahita can be seen the clear display of the sun which is a representation of Mehr or Mitra who is the ancient Iranian deity of sun, light, and covenant.
This article by Dr. Kaveh Farrokh presents a brief analysis of the motif which I find very informative.
The Sun which is the source of life has always been portrayed as a beautiful round smiley female face in drawings. “Khurshid” which is the Farsi word for sun alongside Anahita and Mitra are names for daughters in Persian/Parsi/Farsi.
And the Persian Lion which is native to ancient Persia (Middle East) has always been portrayed as a symbol of power even in captivity.
P.S. This post is written in remembrance of Majid Reza Rahnavard and Mohammad Hosseini. They were executed by the murderous Islamic Republic regime in December 2022 and January 2023 respectively. Their crime was choosing their true Iranian identity over the identity that the Islamic regime forced on them for the last 43 years of invading Iran.
The Instagram profile (osima_370) belonged to Mohammad Hosseini.
We just learned that why the Islamic Republic executed #MajidrezaRahnavard with a broken hand.
Because his hand was tattooed with Iranian Lion and the Sun flag. In 1980, Islamic Republic replaced the Lion and Sun on the country’s tricolor flag with a tulip shaped emblem Allah. pic.twitter.com/MtNe1wUqMg
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) December 24, 2022