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Negara Brunei Darussalam ماسلاراد  يورڊ  
State of Brunei, Abode of Peace





The Sultan´s Emblem

The Armed Forces

Ministry  Defence

Armed Forces

Land Force


Air Force

Support Services

Training Institute






For a long time the Chinese controlled the trade and politics of the northern part of Kalimantan. The kingdom of Brunei was undoubtedly a very wealthy  and cultured one. Ming dynasty accounts give detailed information about visists and tribute missions of  P’o-ni during the late fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. The texts confirm that the state was tributary to the Hindu-Javanese Majapahit Empire, but  sought and received Chinese protection in 1408.

By at least the fifteenth century the Brunei sultan controlled the whole of the regions along the northen coastline of Borneo, Sulu, parts of Mindanao  and even Luzon in the Philippines.

The Spanish from the Philippines invaded Brunei in 1577 and 1578 but they were ousted by sultan Abdul Kahar the next year. Not long afterwards a civil war ensued which was won by Abdul Kahar thanks to the help of the sultan of Sulu. As a reward of this help Brunei had to surrender a large slice of territory on the Northeast coast of Kalimantan. Thereafter the sultanate fell into a slow, long and steady decline.

In the middle of the nineteenth century the cession of territory became the main legitimate means of earning income. The remaining coastal regions and inland tracts of North Borneo were ceded to European adventurers and commercial interests. In the vast southern territories, Sir James Brooke became first a vassal then independen Raja of Sarawak. He embarked on a long process of annexation or seizure of provinces until at last, his territories encroached almost to Brunei town itself, and he made himself master of most of the Northern coast. In the mean time Britain annexed the island of Labuan and its dependencies. By the late nineteenth century the sultanate had shrunk to little more than Brunei water-town and the immediate hinterland.

An agreement with the British on 17 September 1888 halted the process of the shrinking sultanate and established a degree of protection but not enough to prevent further agression from Brooke. A new agreement with the British on 3 December 1905 established a full protectorate, and prevented any further encroachment. The UK became rsponsible for defence and external affairs and appointed a permanent Resident to advise the sultan.

Japan occupied Brunei during WW II. The resumption of civilian rule after Japan’s defeat caused a gradual loosening of Britain’s controls. An amendment to the protectorate agreement on 29th September 1959, introduced the first written Constitution, ended the residential system and established an elected legislature with modern ministerial government.

On 23 November 1971 Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah and his father Omar Ali who had abdicated on his behalf in 1967, negotiated internal self-government. On 1 january 1984 the sultanate agreed to full independence and became a full member of the Commonwealth.  [1]




It is said that the emblem of Brunei dates from the early fifteenth century (when Chinese protection was received) but there is no evidence confirming this assumption.




 (Sanskrit: chattra;

Tibetan: gdugs)

½ Pitis AH 1285/1868AD



Treasure Vase

(Sanskrit: nidhana kumbha;

 Tibetan: gter gyi bum pa)


A winged umbrella with a pennon on a cave- or hermitage-like structure occurs for the first time on so-called pitis minted in AH 1285 (1868 AD). In front of the hermitage is a vessel, probably a treasure vase which, together with the umbrella, makes the emblem of a quite Buddhist origin and, consequently, from the time before the introduction of Islam in Brunei at the beginning of the 16th century. This would confirm that the emblem dates from the time of Chinese supremacy in Brunei.


* The Umbrella is a symbol of royal authority and has very old roots reaching back to ancient Mesopotamia. Also in India it was a royal symbol and it was incorporated into Buddhist lore signyfying the Buddha as universal spiritual monarch. It is one of the eight Auspicious symbols in Buddhism.

* The Treasure Vase in short is a symbol of prosperity as it is thought to be inexhaustible.


In 1886, the emblem of 1868 was replaced by a five-pointed star on coins minted in Birmingham, called coins-bintang. This star is also on 1$ stamps issued in 1895, together with what could be called a badge for Brunei, consisting of a seascape with a sailing vessel between two palm trees. This badge is close to the badge of Labuan but it is not the same.


Coin bintang, AH 1304 /1885AD          

Stamp issued 1895


After the acceptance of a full protectorate in 1906 these emblems disappeared even when the pitis with the umbrella-emblem remained part of the local currency. It can therefore not be a surprise when in 1932 this emblem was chosen as an emblem for the State of Brunei.

The new emblem was of a design slightly differing from the design on the pitis. It consists of an umbrella with a pennon between two wings, rising from pillar. Below is the name of the country in arab script.




After the ascendance of Sultan Omar Al Saifuddin in 1950, the emblem was augmented with a crescent, probably to stress the fact that Islam is the main religion in Brunei. The new emblem is seen on stamps issued in 1950. Also it appears on the collar and star of the Darjah Sri Paduka Mahkota Brunei Yang Amat Mulia (the Most Honourable Order of the Crown of Brunei), founded by Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin III on 1 March 1954.


Emblem of Brunei, 1950-1959


A new emblem of state was  adopted together with the Constitution of 29 August 1959. It consists of the former umbrella, pillar and crescent. but is now between two lower arms, hands upwards. On the crescent is the motto: “Sentiasa berbuat kebajikan dangan petunjuk Allah” (Always in service with Allah’s guidance) and below a banner with the name of the “Brunei Daressalaam” (Brunei, Abode of Peace) bot in arab script. The emblem is red with golden accents and script.


š See illustration in the head of this essay. 


In the emblem the umbrella with the pennon symbolizes the state. The feathers of the wings are for justice, calmness, prosperity and peace. The pillar is the symbol of a steadfast and  just government and the crescent is for Islam. One hand is for the loyalty to the government of the population and the other is for the duty of the state to realize welfare, peace and prosperity for the people.


The Sultan’s Emblem


Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah at his coronation, 1968.


After the adoption of the Constitution of 1959 the sultan’s emblem became different from the emblem of state in that the two hands were replaced by two golden cats (kuching emas) sejant.


This achievement was on the sultan’s flag, all in red, but also on the back of the throne. It can be seen on this picture of Hassanal Bolkiah, sitting on the throne after his coronation in 1968. On his head  is the crown (mahkota)  of  Brunei. This crown was insipred by the brocade turbans of  earlier sultans, embellished with pendilia and a sarpech consisting of a crescent-and-ten-pointed star, crowned with a seven-pointed crown.


About 1999 a new achievement was adopted



It consists of a crescent and a winged umbrella, crowned with the royal crown and surrounded by a garland of ears paddy. On the crescent is a motto and in chief is the name of God (Allah).

On the (yellow) royal standard the emblem is all red.



The Royal emblem is also at the entrance of the Istana Nurul Iman (Royal Palace) and at many other places. It also qualifies state institutions as “Royal”.


Brunei Armed Forces


Ministry of Defence [2]


Armed Forces








Land Force



The Malay Regiment was formed on 31 May 1961.  In conjunction with its 4th anniversary on 31 May 1965, H.M. Sultan Sir Muda Omar Ali Saifuddin Sa adul Khairi Waddien granted the title ‘Royal’ to the Regiment which is the ‘Royal Brunei Malay Regiment’ since then.


The Royal Brunei Navy (Tentera Laut Diraja Brunei ) was established on the 14 June 1965, it is the second Unit created after The Royal Brunei Armed Forces.


Air Force


The Royal Brunei Air Force (Angkatan Tentera Udara Diraja Brunei) was established as the Air Wing of the Royal Brunei Malay Regiment in 1965.


The Support Services Royal Brunei Armed Forces was established 1963.



The Training Institute of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces was officially established on 7 April 1969.





Brunei's Police Emblem

The centre of the emblem is the national crest of Brunei. The crest is surrounded by 99 grains of rice, which indicate peace and security within the state.



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© Hubert de Vries 2010.07.24; updated 2012.03.06


[1] ) See also: Royal Ark: Brunei.

[2] ) Documentation Website Brunei Ministry of Defence. Reconstructions by the author with the exception of the emblem of the ministry itself.

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