Flags, standards and banners have always been important national and royal symbols for Iranians, both in war and peace. Xenophon tells us that Cyrus the Great's standard was a golden eagle with spread wings mounted on a long shaft. In this use of the eagle motif as a national symbol probably lies the origin of the eagle symbols of such countries as Prussia, Russia, Austria, Poland, France and America in modern times, for the Seleucids, Romans and Crusaders all adopted Iranian heraldic motifs.
The best-known symbol of Iran in recent centuries, however, has been the lion and sun motif, which is probably a graphic expression of the astrological configuration of the sun in the sign of Leo, although both celestial and animal figures independently have a long history in Iranian heraldry. The lion and sun emblem is very ancient, and Ferdowsi our epic poet writes that it was used by Rostam, the legendary national hero. Late in the nineteenth century an earlier scimitar motif was combined with the lion and sun and superimposed on a tricolour of green, white and red, and, with minor modifications, this remained the official flag until the revolution of 1979. The length of the tricolour is now exactly twice the overall width. The green stripe is said to represent growth and prosperity, and is the colour associated with the Prophet's family, the white peace, and the red the willingness of every Iranian to shed his blood for his country.
TIe Imperial Standard consists of a pale-blue field with the official flag in the top corner next to the mast and the Pahlavi coat of arms in the centre. At the top of the coat of arms is the Pahlavi crown, created for the Coronation of Reza Shah the Great in 1926. Beneath is the Imperial Motto:
"Mara dad farmud va Khod Davar Ast" ("Justice He bids me do, As He will judge me")
Pale blue is the colour of the Imperial Family. Iran's national anthem, composed in the 1930's, has a stirring melody. To hear the national anthem, download "Truespeech" first then press here.
On an Imperial Iranian Navy destroyer,
the Royal Banner unfurls in the Persian Gulf breeze