The flag of Turkey (Turkish: Türk bayrağı, meaning: Turkish flag) is a red flag with a white crescent moon and a star in its centre. The flag is called Ay-yıldız (moon-star) or Al bayrak (red flag). The Turkish flag is referred to as Al sancak (red banner) in the Turkish national anthem.
The star and the moon are two sky elements symbolizing the Tengriist beliefs of the sky-worshiping ancient Turks. In Turkic Mythology four colours are associated with four cardinal directions: blue (gök) with east, white (ak) with west, red (al) with south, black (kara) with north. These colours represent the direction towards the zenith where the Tengri is residing in the sky. The Black Sea (Karadeniz) is named for its position in the north, and the Turkish/Qırımtatar name of the Mediterranean, Akdeniz ('White Sea'), refers to its position in the west. The red and white colours on the flag of Turkey thus symbolize the south-western branch of Turks called Oghuzes who are the founders of present-day Turkey as well as Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Gagauzia and the historic Ottoman Empire. Turkestan's flag is the same of Turkey's, the only difference being the background is light blue instead of red.
Standards and symbols were sacred objects to the people involved in Tengrism since these emblems represented their gods, kings, people and homelands in Central Asia or in their new homelands. For instance, flags of Turkic people would not only reveal their identity to the opposing sides, but would also bring along the representations of their gods to give them courage and moral help needed in their struggle with their enemies. The origin of the star, sun, eagle and crescent symbols used in the flags of Turkic people goes back to the Shamanistic culture that the ancient Central Asiatic peoples had developed during pre-historic times.
The flag is red with a vertical white crescent moon (the closed portion is toward the hoist side) and a white five-pointed star centred just outside the crescent opening; the flag colours and designs closely resemble those on the banner of Ottoman Empire, which preceded modern-day Turkey; the crescent moon and star serve as insignia for the Turks; according to a legend, the flag represents the reflection of the moon and a star in a pool of blood of Turkish warriors.
The flag of the Republic of Turkey is the same of the latest flag of the Ottoman Empire, adopted in 1844 with the Tanzimat reforms in the Ottoman Empire. The geometric proportions of the flag were legally standardised with the Turkish Flag Law in 1936 during the republic period of Turkey.
The current design of the Turkish flag is directly derived from the late Ottoman flag, which had acquired its final form in 1844. Its measures have passed by a law during the Republic period on May 29, 1936 which formed the shapes and measures of the current flag of the Republic of Turkey.
The Ottomans in the 18th and 19th centuries used several different designs, most of them featuring one or more crescents, for different purposes, such as the flag with green background signifying the caliphate. During the late imperial period, the distinctive use of the color red for secular and green for religious institutions became an established practice.
In 1844, the eight-pointed star was replaced with a five-pointed star and the flag reached the form of the present Turkish flag.
Historically, in accounting for the crescent and star symbol, Ottomans sometimes referred to a legendary dream of the eponymous founder of the Ottoman house, Osman I, in which he is reported to have seen a moon rising from the breast of a qadi whose daughter he sought to marry. "When full, it descended into his own breast. Then from his loins there sprang a tree, which as it grew came to cover the whole world with the shadow of its green and beautiful branches." Beneath it Osman saw the world spread out before him, surmounted by the crescent.
Fundamentals of the Turkish flag were laid down by Turkish Flag Law No. 2994 on May 29, 1936. Turkish Flag Regulation No. 2/7175 dated July 28, 1937, and Supplementary Regulation No. 11604/2 dated July 29, 1939, were enacted to describe how the flag law would be implemented. The Turkish Flag Law No. 2893 dated September 22, 1983, and Published in the Official Gazette on September 24, 1983, was promulgated six months after its publication. According to Article 9 of Law No. 2893, a statute including the fundamentals of the implementation was also published.
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