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The establishment and development history of the state symbols of Azerbaijan

It is impossible to imagine the existence of the state without state symbols that describe the centuries statehood and historical-cultural values of its. The symbol of systems that reflect the wealth in itself passed historical development period and it always existed. Learning of the formation history of the state symbols help to get the full information about the history, culture and development history of the ideology of the statehood. 

Even in ancient times, there were own signs that notified the power of the tribal leaders. Such kind of signs (vexilloid, standard) that decorated with patterns and emblems, usually belong to the rulers made wooden or metal stem. It concerned to be the initial evolutionary form of the modern flags. Since its creation times, it characterized as a place where soldiers had to gather. 

The first ancient known to history silk material flag made in China. In the XII century, B.C the founder of the Zhou dynasty King Zhou commanded to carry the white flag in front of troops when he came into the palace. Silk flag was more visible than vexilloids and comfortable too. 

It was gone the symbols of the first state history process of formation and development in the area of Azerbaijan. The first formation of flags (standard) were in the before centuries in Azerbaijan. During the archaeological findings, the first bronze standards that symbolized the power of the rulers, taken with a white stem, and decorated with animal images (B.C IV-II millenniums) found in Shamkir and Sheki regions. 

Gradually such kind of standards replaced with thread and fabric material flags. In the middle ages the name of the flags known the different kind, such as sancag, tugh, buncug and alam in Azerbaijan where had a rich history of statehood. These concepts also found in Kitabi Dede Gorgut’s epos. Warriors carried these symbols ahead and it considered a sacred symbol of Oghuz tribes. 

In the different periods of the history, there were symbol of independence such as flags, emblems, seals and currency units of the Garagoyunlu, Aghgoyunlu and Safavids state that located in the area of Azerbaijan. According to the historical sources, there were interesting colorful flags of the Garagoyunlu, which considered the state symbols. Flags considered the symbol of power and victory not only other countries but also in the Garagoyunlu too. According to the I.H.Uzunchashirli’s opinion, the flag of the Garagoyunlu described with the middle of the yellow background in the red fourth form in the map, which kept in the library of Topkapi Palace and drew in J.Villadestes picture who is a spanish chartographer in 1428. In addition, the flag of a white-colored piece of wood of Aghgoyunlu state found in the Topkapi Palace. There was written “Sultan Hasan and Bahadur” word in the longish on a triangular white piece, in the center there was seal description of Uzun Hasan and rounds verses from the Koran. 

In the evolution of Azerbaijan statehood, the role of Safavids played a great historical role in the beginning of the XVI century. The Tabriz miniatures from XV-XVI century as a history source played also an important role to get rich statehood information about the flags. Colorful flags in triangular form belonged to the Safavids state decorated with verses from the Koran and in the XVI centuries of the Tabriz miniatures. 

It was mentioned several pieces of information in the historical sources about the Safavids’ flags. According to the researcher M.Abbaslı, Shah Ismail came up to Baghdad with his moon and star flag referring to the "Cahanarayi Shah Ismail" (XVI century). It is assumed that the images of these elements were on the flags of Shah Ismail's troops. It was also information on Shah Ismail’s flag in the book "History-i alemare-yi Shah Ismail". The source says that Shah Ismayil's flag was very large and made of white fabric. Moreover, on fabric, it was written a 13th verse of 61st surah (“Saf”) “nasrum-minallahy and fathun qaryb” (“Help from Allah and close to victory”) and other variant “nasrun-minallahy” (“Help from Allah”). 

Shaki Khan Palace built in the XVIII century and even in this place played a great historical significance in the study of our statehood history. The flags with 28 different types of combat and hunting scenes that depicted in the wall paintings of the palace are distinguished by different shapes and colours. 

There were first independent khanaets in Azerbaijan area and each of them had state symbols in the 40s of the XVIII century. The flags that distinguished for the importance of the state symbols were widely spread in the khanates of Azerbaijan during the second half of the eighteenth century. The flags of Azerbaijan khanaets decorated with verses from Koran, different ornaments and sewed with beautiful east fabrics that are dated to the XVI-XVIII centuries. Help from Allah and close to victory, Mohammad is a messenger of Allah, by the name of Merciful Allah and Mohammed give glad tidings to the believers’ kind of words mentioned on the flags. 

Beside state flags, it should be noted the own flags of rulers of khanates. There were Azerbaijan khans’ standards that were symbol of power. The standard of Huseingulu khan who was Irevan’s khan, Javad khan who was Ganja’s Khan, Salim Khan who was Sheki’s khan could be an example. In the beginning of the XIX century the khanaets of Azerbaijan occupied by Tsardom of Russia. Because of the contracts between Iran and Russia (1813, 1828) the north part of Azerbaijan annexed to Russia and south to Iran. There were flags of khanates among the trophies taken to Russia during the war. Among of them, there are flags of Ganja, Baku, Sheki, Irevan, Nakhchivan, Tabriz, Khoy khanates. Those flags were given to the Caucasian Military History Museum in 1888, and after that, some flags were transferred to the National Museum of History of Azerbaijan in 1924. 

Azerbaijan nation always kept the tradition of statehood for the centuries. As a great event, the restoration of the national statehood was written in golden letters in the history of Azerbaijan people at the beginning of the twentieth century. The attributes of our statehood began to be restored, after the declaring its independence in 1918. One of the first important events of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic made on June 21, 1918, is a red-colored State flag decoration with white-colored crescent and eight-point stars. The tricolor flag of Azerbaijan was adopted at the meeting of the Government of the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan on November 9, 1918. 

The Council of Ministers of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic on November 9, 1918 approved the tricolor flag of Azerbaijan. In the newspaper "Azerbaijan" dated November 11, 1918, the flag was marked: “The government of Azerbaijan Democratic Republic adopted national tricolor flag of Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan's flag features three equal horizontal bands of blue, red and green. A white crescent and eight-pointed star are centered in the red band.” When we are talking about colors in the flag, blue color expresses turkism, red-modernism, western democracy, green-Islamic ideology. 

According to historians, the crescent and the eight-pointed star have not been disclosed, even though the tricolor flag is regarded as a state flag when it appears to contain colors. There are various opinions about the meaning of the crescent and the eight-pointed star on the flag. Crescent was once the emblem of Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire. After the Turks gained this city in 1453, this coat of arms was adopted by the Ottoman Empire as a symbol of the Islamic religion, and it was solidarity, freedom and relief in the entire Muslim world. As for the eight-pointed star, this is due to the fact that the word "Azerbaijan" was written in the old alphabet. Thus, in the old alphabet, the word "Azerbaijan" is written with eight letters. During the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan, although other projects (coat of arms and hymn) were drafted, their approval and adoption was not possible at the legislative level. So, on January 30, 1920, the Government of the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan announced a competition for the preparation of national anthem, state emblem and seal. The deadline for the contest was May 1, 1920. The competition gave impetus to the creation of the first examples of the symbols of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic, orders and medals, postage stamps. However, the collapse of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic did not allow the adoption of the national symbols of Azerbaijan on April 28, 1920. Because of the April occupation of 1920, the Soviet power in Azerbaijan was established and all the symbols that glorified our national statehood were replaced by Soviet symbols. Red color was used in all flags of the Azerbaijan SSR. At that time, the red color was considered a symbol of the heroic struggle of the Soviet people for the creation of socialism and communism. When it came to the meaning of the saddlery and hammer on the flag, it meant an inseparable union of the workers and the peasant class. The plague and the hammer were the emblem of the proletarian state. 

The reason of the repeated change of the state flags in Azerbaijan during the Soviet power was the alteration of the writings on the flag as well. The first sign of the Soviet Socialist Republic of Azerbaijan was adopted in 1920-1921. The last flag of the Azerbaijani SSR dates back to 1952-1991.

During the Soviet era, Azerbaijan adapted its state attributes to the attributes of Soviet Russia. The State Emblems of the Azerbaijani Soviet Socialist Republic were typically depicted on the crescent surrounded by wood and hammer, five-pointed star, spider-grass, and the slogan "Unite the proletariat of all countries". Replacement of the state emblem was related to the factors that caused changes in flags. The most recent emblem of the Azerbaijani SSR, which belonged to 1978, was the state emblem of the Soviet Union until the collapse of the Soviet Union. Along with the state flag and emblem, the State Anthem of the Azerbaijan SSR was adopted in 1945 and 1978.

In the 80s of the 20th century, our tricolor flag became the symbol of the national liberation movement of the Azerbaijani people. The tricolor flag was approved as the national flag of Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic at the session held on November 17, 1990 by the initiative and leadership of the Chairman of the Supreme Assembly of the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic Heydar Aliyev. On February 5, 1991, the Supreme Soviet of the Republic of Azerbaijan adopted the Law "On the State Flag of the Republic of Azerbaijan», proclaimed it the State Flag, and awarded our State flag status to our tricolor flag.

On May 27, 1992, the parliament adopted the Law of the National Anthem of the Republic of Azerbaijan. According to the law, "Anthem of Azerbaijan", compiled by composer Uzeyir Hajibeyov and poet Ahmed Javad in 1919, was approved as the National Anthem of Azerbaijan. The Supreme Soviet of the Republic of Azerbaijan SSR approved the Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan on January 19, 1993, as one of the state emblems of the Republic of Azerbaijan with one of the state embroidery projects made in 1919-1920.

Determining the state symbols in 2 articles (23 and 75) of the Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan indicates that they are approved at the legislative level.

The historical basis formation of the national statehood attributes and their promotion and study among all citizens, especially young people, has emerged during the period of national leader Heydar Aliyev's leadership in Azerbaijan, the historical basis of the state-building policy. Signing of the Decree "Strengthening the propaganda of the state attributes of the Republic of Azerbaijan " on March 13, 1998, provided a wider propagation of state symbols, at the same time promoting the formation of society in the spirit of patriotism, strengthening respect for the state symbols.
Today the work that done by Heydar Aliyev in the field of statehood is being developed by the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Mr. Ilham Aliyev. Adoption of the Law of the Republic of Azerbaijan "On the Use of the National Flag of the Republic of Azerbaijan" on June 8, 2004 is one of the important measures taken to improve the legislative framework of the state symbols.
Presidential Decree on "Establishment of the National Flag Square in Baku" on 17, November 2007 and the Decree "On the Establishment of the National Flag Day of the Republic of Azerbaijan" on November 17, 2009, were signed by the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the State flag of the people of Azerbaijan is a prime example of respect and high value. These orders signed by the head of state are an expression of the successful position of the state flag taken in the state symbols, as well as the successful policy pursued by the nation to promote the ancient history, culture, national and spiritual values of our people to the world community.