In accordance with Article 7 of the Libyan constitution: “The national flag shall have the following shape and dimensions: Its length shall be twice its width, and shall be divided into three parallel colour stripes; the uppermost shall be red, the centre shall be black and the lowermost shall be green. The black stripe shall be equal in area to the other two stripes combined, and shall bear at its centre a white crescent embracing a white five-pointed star, at its two extremities. Article 6 of the constitution states that “The emblem of the state and its national anthem shall be prescribed by law.”
The selection and significance of the design of the Libyan flag had been the subject of research by authors and scholars. According to Adrian Pelt, UN commissioner for Libya (1949 to 1951), that “during deliberations of the Libyan National Constitutional Convention, a paper drawing of a proposed national flag was presented to the convention by Omar Faeq Shinneeb (distinguished member of the delegation from Cyrenaica). The design was composed of three colours; red, black and green, with a white Crescent and Star centred in the middle black stripe. Mr. Shinneeb informed the delegates that this design had met the approval of His Highness Emir of Cyrenaica, Idris El Senussi (later to become King of Libya). The assembly subsequently approved that design.”
The colours of the Libyan flag are rich with meaning and symbolism pertaining to Libya’s past and future. Red symbolises the great sacrifice of the Libyan people during their long struggle for independence from colonial/ fascist Italy. The wider centre stripe with its black background and white crescent and star, is the Senussi banner under which the struggle against colonialism was organised and fought since 1911. The same banner was later raised by the Libyan army of liberation fighting alongside the Allies during World War II against German and Italian forces in Egypt and Libya. The green colour of the flag symbolises hope, peace and prosperity for Libya’s future generations.
It is believed that the colours of the flag also celebrate the unification of the Libyan territories of Tripolitania, Cyranica, and Fezzan, and affirm Libya’s Islamic heritage: The red colour is a reference to the flag of pre-colonial Ottoman Caliphate rule of the Libyan territories, and was also the prominent colour on the flagships of Tripoli in the nineteenth century. The centre black stripe (with its white crescent and star) is identical to the flag of the Emirate of Cyrenaica which declared its own independence in 1949, two years prior to the declaration of independence of the United Kingdom of Libya on December 24, 1951. The green is the traditional colour of Islam, and also was the colour of the large palm tree symbol that adorned the flag of the Tripolitanian Republic from 1918 to its annexation to Italy in 1923.
It is worth noting that the Libyan flag with its dignified beauty, and rich symbolism, was particularly chosen by the founding fathers of the Kingdom of Libya to reflect its national pride, and to celebrate the history and heritage of its people.
According to Article 6 of the constitution of Libya: “The emblem of the state and its national anthem shall be prescribed by law”. The constitution did not explicitly describe its shape or features as Article 7 did for the national flag. Unfortunately, due to the restrictions placed on government archives since the military coup of 1969, it was not possible to obtain the text of the law or royal decree prescribing the design of this emblem. Since many variants of its basic shape in various colour schemes have been in circulation, in books and websites, a careful research of official government issues (e.g. bank notes and postal stamps) was necessary. The authentic shape and features of this magnificent symbol, known as the Crown of Libya, is described below.
- Top Crown adorned with a white Crescent and five-pointed star at its summit, at which five visible side frames originating from a ring at the base converge. The star studded base and frame contain a velvet black head cover like object.
- The Top Crown is supported at its base by two beautiful plantar designs; in the form of three intertwined C and S scroll shapes.
- Two massive “Shoulder” frames contain the body of the crown from the right and left, adding to its distinctive majestic appearance. Each side is a complex formation of intertwined branches in the shape of an S Curve, which is essentially two back-to-back C scrolls; the larger one of which terminates in a large beautiful spiral at the top. It is indeed interesting to note that many dimensions of this design adhere to what is known as the “Golden Ratio” rule, considered by mathematicians and architects to be one of the secrets of beautiful of design, in art and nature *.
- The background colour of the large interior below the Top Crown can be white or transparent, although this is not evident in the picture of the Libyan pound.
- The background colour of the centre region surrounding the large white Crescent and Star is black as in the centre stripe of the Libyan flag.
- A white ring with thin black borders, surrounds the centre large white Crescent and Star.
- Nine five-pointed white stars surround the centre ring.
- Large white crescent.
- Five pointed star located well above the perimeter of the crescent. This differs from the flag, which places the star at the extremities of the crescent.
- A Centre Crown, seated above the ring containing the Crescent and Star. Its design is identical to the Top Crown, except for being smaller in size.
- Plantar/ floral ornamentation similar to #2 above, providing variation and connectivity to the base.
- At the base, an elegant design that resembles a document scroll with a ring tie at its centre. It is noted that the colour scheme of the crown is most likely white for the stars and crescents, black and white (or transparent) for spaces, and gold for the crowns and frames. Clearly therefore, as in the Libyan flag, the emblem of the Kingdom of Libya had been chosen with great care and attention to detail to reflect the national pride, and celebrate the heritage of Libya and its people.