Origin of Turkish Flag

Vexillologists (who study flags), have a field day trying to figure out the origin and connotations associated with the flag. There are legends galore and the various symbols can be interpreted according to which school of history one subscribes to. The crescent and the moon is a predominantly Islamic symbol but research has shown that it was used in Asia Minor, long before the advent of Islam.

Legend has it that that the moon occulting a star appeared as a reflection in a bloody puddle, after the battle of Kosovo, in 1448. The battle was a decisive one for Turkey as it founded the long and illustrious Ottoman Empire, which ruled until 19th century. The image is said to be a part of this historic event and commemorated by Sultan Murad II as the motif of the Turkish national flag. Another exotic folklore credits the motif to be inspired by a dream of the first Ottoman Emperor. A crescent and a star is supposed to have emerged from his chest and exploded, which was later construed as the dynasty's seizure of Constantinople (Istanbul). Again, another version has the legendary Kemal Ataturk witnessing the image of crescent shaped star in a pool of blood, after a victorious battle in the Turkish war of Independence at Sakarya.

History, however presents some interesting information. The basic form of the Turkish National Flag is supposed to have been established in 1793 under Ottoman Sultan Selim III. The green flag of the navy was changed to red and a white crescent and multi pointed star were included. The five-pointed star dates from approximately 1844. When the Ottoman Empire became the Republic of Turkey, the Flag remained the same, except some design specifications.

History lore has some nearly exotic things to say about the star and the crescent. Diana (Artemis) was the patron goddess of Byzantium. Her symbol was the moon. In AD 330, the Emperor Constantin renamed the city as Constantinople (the present day Istanbul) and dedicated the city to Virgin Mary. Thus, the star symbol was superimposed on the crescent. In 1453, Constantinople was overtaken by the Ottoman Turks. They called the city Istanbul but somehow did not change the motif.