Rare Japanese National Flag Converted to Korean Flag

This is a larger silk Japanese National Flag that has been converted into a Korean Flag.  The flag measures approxiately 26.5″ high X 39.5″ long.  The red center orb is nicely silk screened onto the age darkened white field.  Both the fly and hoist side edges have been re-inforced with added stitching for strength.  The brown paper corner tabs are firmly sewn in place.  One of them has what remains of the Japanese price control tag on it.  The silk tie strings remain in place in each corner.  (This example is similar to the one shown on page 150 of Imperial Japanese Good Luck Flags and One-Thousand Stitch Belts.)

At one point, someone took a pencil and outined a ying-yang symbol (taeguk) in the red center and then filled in a section with black ink.  The flag’s field is white, a traditional color in Korean culture.  White was common in the daily attire of 19th-century Koreans, and it still appears in contemporary versions of traditional Korean garments, such as the hanbok.  The color represents peace and purity.  The circle in the flag’s center symbolizes balance in the universe. The red portion represents positive cosmic forces, while the darker half (normally blue), represents the opposing negative cosmic forces.  The lines in each corner, known as trigrams, represent movement and harmony as fundamental principles. Each trigram represents one of the four classical elements: justice, fruition, wisdome and vitality.  These were drawn into place a brush and ink.  This style of flag was seen as far back as 1883.  This same flag became the flag of the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea from 1919 to 1948 and used in exile in China.

Over the years I have seen a number of Japanese flags converted into Korean examples.  The flags appear to have been made by non-Koreans; the trigrams are generally either placed into incorrect corners, or the alignment of their bars is incorrect.  Some have suggested that the flags were made by Japanese forces in Korea and given to Korean troops conscripted by Japan.

This particular example is in overall very good condition but does have a number of stains that appear to be either boot prints or tire tread marks.  A tough flag to find……


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