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nepal Ao/raJYa




National Emblem

The Crown

Royal Arms and Seals

The Rana dynasty





The Kingdom of Nepal also referred to as the Gorkha Kingdom, was formed in 1768 by the unification of Nepal. Founded by Prithvi Narayan Shah (r. 1768–1775), a Gurkha king who succeeded in unifying the kingdoms of Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur into a single state, it existed for 240 years under the formal rule of the Shah dynasty.

After a successful consolidation of its territory, despite a humiliating defeat to China after a failed invasion of Tibet in the 1790s, the Kingdom of Nepal became threatened in the early-19th century by British imperialism and the East India Company. In the Gurkha War (1814–1816), the Kingdom of Nepal retained its independence in the Sugauli Treaty in exchange for territorial concessions equating to a third of Greater Nepal. Political instability following the war resulted in the political ascendancy of the Rana dynasty, who beginning with Jang Bahadur became the hereditary Prime Ministers of Nepal from 1843 to 1951, reducing the role of the Shah monarch to that of a figurehead.

The mid-20th century began an era of moves towards the democratisation of Nepal. India, which became independent in 1947, would play an important role in supporting King Tribhuhvan (r. 1911-’50; 1951-’55), whom the Rana leader Mohan Shamsher Jang Bahadur Rana had attempted to depose and replace with his grandson King Gyanendra (r. 1950-’51; 2001-’08), and in supporting a new government consisting largely of the Nepali Congress, which effectively ended the rule of the Rana dynasty.

The 1990s saw the beginning of the Nepalese Civil War (1996–2006), a conflict fought between government forces and the insugent forces of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist). The situation for the Nepalese monarchy was further destabilised by the 2001 Nepalese royal massacre, in which Crown Prince Dipendra shot and killed ten people, including his father King Birendra (r. 1972–2001). Their deaths resulted in King Gyanendra returning to the throne, whose imposition of direct rule in 2005 provoked a protest movement unifying the Maoist insurgency and pro-democracy activists. He was eventually forced to restore the Nepal House of Representatives, which in 2007 adopted an interim republican constitution. Following the 2008 Nepalese Constituent Assembly election, the Nepalese Constituent Assembly formally abolished the kingdom on 28 May 2008, declaring in its place the establishment of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal. [1] On 11 june 2008  the deposed king leaved the royal palace.




National Arms and Emblem


The first achievement of the Kingdom of Nepal probably dates from the last years of the reign of King Prithvi Bir Bikram Shah Dev (1881-1911). Probably it is the fruit of a nationalist movement in Nepal from about the turn of the 19th-20th century. At that time almost all princes of some importance on the Indian continent had been granted an achievement by the British Govern-ment.

As it is a device symbolizing the Government of the Kingdom it may also be an invention of Prime Minister Chandra Shumsher Rana (1901-’29). Indeed, the achievement is associated by some authors with the Rana Dynasty.

The achievement can be found on the Prime ministers’seat and on the baldachin above the Prime ministers’seat.













á Throne said to be of Joddha Shumsher (1932-’45)

Showing the achievement of the kingdom of Nepal [2]


Baldachin of the Prime Ministers’ seat.

On a picture of an audience of Mohun Shumsher in 1948


The achievement is:


Arms: The Nepalese plain and a sun radiant rising above the Himalayas on the background, all proper.

Crown: The Royal Crown of Nepal

Supporters: Two spears ensigned with the pennons of Nepal.

Motto: jnnI jNm.imq SvGaaRdpI GarIysI (jananī janmabhūmiśca svargādapi garīyasī / The mother and the motherland are greater than heaven).on a ribbon around the lower half of the arms, pending therefrom two kukri’s and a medal (probably of the Most Puissant Order of the Gurkha Right Hand (Gorkha-Dakshina Bahu), founded by King Prithvi in 1896).


The pennons are still separated and are dating from after the adoption of the first national flag of Nepal at the end of the 19th century, as shown here:


Flag of Nepal

As on a picture, ca. 1911


The two pennons separated, the crescent with a ball (= star), the sun radiant, the field red, the bordure blue. The crescent-and-ball corresponds with the crescent-and-ball of the royal emblem. [3]



A kukri is a traditional weapon for Nepalese people, and also a weapon of choice/side arm for all Nepalese including those serving in different armies around the world.


The achievement on a golden kukri-scabbard, the royal cypher of Tribhuvana Bir Bikram Shah in base


In a second version a patron deity is introduced and the pennons are replaced by supporters:


Kukri-scabbard showing the achievement of Nepal, early 20th c (post WWI?).

(coll. & photo Viking K. Kunwor)


Arms: The patron deity Sri 108 Pashpatinath in a landscape with the Himalyas in the background all proper.

Crest: Two kukri’s in saltire between a crescent and a sun, the footprints of Sri 108 Gorakhnat in chief.

Crown: The Royal Nepalese crown.

Supporters: A man of the Guard and a Nepalese huntsman proper

Motto: jnnI jNm.imq SvGaaRdpI GarIysI (jananī janmabhūmiśca svargādapi garīyasī / The mother and the motherland are greater than heaven).


An augmented achievement is certainly from the time of the time of the service of Chandra Shumsher. It is documented by the British journalist and writer Perceval Landon. It is:

Drawing H.P. de Vries, after Perceval Landon.


Arms: The patron deity Sri 108 Pashpatinath in a landscape with the Himalyas in the background all proper.

Crest: Two kukri’s in saltire between a crescent and a sun, the footprints of Sri 108 Gorakhnat in chief and the motto SHRI NEPAL SARKAR (The Illustrious Government of Nepal) on a white scroll in base.

Crown: The Royal Nepalese crown

Supporters: A man of the Guard and a Nepalese huntsman proper

Motto: dulce et decorum est pro patria mori and jnnI jNm.imq SvGaaRdpI GarIysI (jananī janmabhūmiśca svargādapi garīyasī / The mother and the motherland are greater than heaven) devanagiri script. In base on a ribbon  another motto in devenagiri script.

Below the achievement is the royal cypher of Tribuvana Bir Bikram Shah Dev: TBBS. [4]


The motto in latin means: How sweet and honourable it is to die for the Fatherland, and is from Horatius’ “Odes”, Book III, 2. vs13. :


"Ah, my dear lord, untrain'd in war!

O tempt not the infuriate mood 10

Of that fell lion! see! from far

He plunges through a tide of blood!"


What joy, for fatherland to die!

Death's darts e'en flying feet o'ertake,

Nor spare a recreant chivalry, 15

A back that cowers, or loins that quake.


True Virtue never knows defeat:



The first motto in devenangiri script is a part of the Sanskrit verse:


I do not care for Lanka, Lakshmana, even though it be made of gold.

One’s mother and one’s native land are worth more even than heaven


This verse is believed to be recited by Lord Rama when his brother Lakshmana expressed the desire to stay back in Lanka. The quote is supposed to be from the Ramayana but is cited in Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay’s work Anandamath


The explanation of Sir Landon Perceval reads:

“The upper symbol (of the achievement) is the “Sri Panch”or headdress. The King’s head-dress is adorned with five “Chands”. Other high officials bear one “Chand”.

The “Chands” in the head-dress correspond with the number of “Sris” to which the wearer is entitled. [5]  In referring to the King or the Minister, the one is styled “Sri Panch (five) Sarkar,” and the other “Sri Tin (three) Sarkar” in consonance with the number of “Sris” that go before the name of each. The “Sarkar” in the reference stands evidently for “Government.”

The bird of paradise plume is believed to have been introduced by Mathabar Singh Thapa when he came back after his sojourn in the Panjab Court. [6] The spray of peacock feather is a part of the badge of the high Chinese honour borne by the present  Prime Minister and Marshal.

Below the “Sri Panch”or the head-dress is shown a pair of footprints known as “Guru Paduka,” representing the footprints of Sri 108 Goraknath, the guardian deity of Gorkha, whence the Ranas came. [It is not correct to interpret the “Paduka”as “Vishnu Paduka,” inasmuch as those are used only in Gaya for offering oblations to one’s ancestry, and hence cannot be an auspicious symbol to be placed on coins and armorial bearings.]

Below the “Paduka” appear a pair of crossed kukhris, the national weapon of the Gurkhas. This emblem is of recent introduction into the armorial bearings of the country.

On either side of the pair of crossed kukhris, the sun and moon are represented. These are very common symbols on coins, flags, copper and other inscriptions, and are inserted to invoke the blessing of the gods, and to make the objects or the name and fame of the donor as everlasting as the two prominenet orbs in heaven. These, with the “Guru Paduka,”may be taken in the same manner as the auspicious symbols by which a letter should be begun. The crescent moon is in the increasing phase, typifying an expansion of glory and fame.

The shield below, the coat of arms itself, symbolizes the whole country of Nepal from the Himalayas to the forest-covered Tarai watched over by the guardian deity Sri 108 Pashpatinath, herein depicted with four arms and the emblems according to the “Dhyan”or mental image for worship laid down in the shastras. [The idea is of a god who creates and destroys the universe and protects and fulfils the wishes of the devotee.]

The legend in Sanskrit encircling the lower part of the shield expresses that one’s mother and motherland stand even higher than, and are superior to, “Swarga”or heaven itself. So that he who honestly and faithfully serves both will in the end be admitted to a sphere of the highest heaven.”

In a later version the crown, the second longer motto and the royal cypher (probably only for use by the king) are omitted:

Achievement of Nepal, 1935 ca.


Still later, the Man of the Guard was replaced by a Gurkha soldier in modern WW II uniform:



Gurkha soldiers in 1946   

Gurkha Soldier, 1941 [7]

Late 19th century nepalese huntsman


After the resoration of Tribhuvana Bir Bikram Shah Dev in 1952 a new emblem, soviet-style appears on coins. It showed the Himalayas and the rising sun from the ancient arms, but surrounded by a garland of ears of wheat  tied with a ribbon. On the reverse there is a mountainridge charged with a kukri, the emblem of Gurkha.


20 paise coin, obverse and reverse, 1953-1954.


It is not known what the status of this emblem exactly was, nor how long it was actually used (if ever).

In 1962 a new national emblem was adopted by Constitution of 16 December 1962. It is

Emblem: The Nepalese plain cut by the river Gandak, on its right bank a white zebu, and on a rock on the sinister a sitting green pheasant (Himalayan Monal, Lophophorus impejanus - Phasianinæ); and a temple and a tree on the dexter and the Himalayas in the distance, all proper.

Crest:  Two kukri’s and two national flags in saltire between a crescent and a sun, the footprints of Sri 108 Gorakhnat in chief.

Crown: The Royal Nepalese crown.

Garland: Two branches of flowering rhododendron .

Supporters: A Nepalese soldier on the dexter and an ancient nepalese huntsman  on the sinister

Motto: jnnI jNm.imq SvGaaRdpI GarIysI (Jananī janmabhūmiśca svargādapi garīyasī / The mother and the motherland are greater than heaven) in devanagiri script on a red ribbon.


After the Nepalese Civil War and the restoration of the House of Representatives, the Cabinet replaced the existing national emblem on 15 December 2006. The new emblem was designed by a commission led by Narendra Raj Rajbhandari. On 30 December 2006, the new emblem was introduced. It is:


Emblem: Nepalese hills Vert, charged with the map of Nepal Argent, in chief Mount Everest issuant Azure and Argent, in base male and female clasped hands proper, over a base Or for Terai region.

Crest: The Nepalese National Flag

Garland: Ears of rice and two branches of flowering rhododendron.

Motto: On a red scroll: jnnI jNm.imq SvGaaRdpI GarIysI (jananī janmabhūmiśca svargādapi garīyasī (The mother and the motherland are greater than heaven) in white devanagiri script.


Æ See illustration in the head of this essay.


The Crown


At an uncertain date a royal crown was made for king Rajendra Bikram Shah (1816-‘47).  When Prime Minister Bhimsen Thapa (1806-’37)  reorganized the Nepalese army in the first half of the 19th century, he decided that full military dresses had to be designed to which there would belong special head-dresses. In the beginning the head-dresses were caps of silver or gold filigrane.


Prime Minister Bhimsen Thapa (r. 1806-’37)

in full military dress 

Prime Minister Mathabar Singh Thapa (1844-’45)

wearing the royal crown [8]


Mathbar Singh Thapa was the first Prime Minister to be crowned.


When Jung Bahadur Rana had become Prime Minister in 1846 he developed these caps into special crowns, of a shape inspired by the royal crown, for himself and for the members of his family who were promoted generals, major generals and colonels. [9]


About these crowns is reported  [10]:


“On top of the royal head-dress is a large emerald. The enormous ruby which surmounts the head-dress of the Maharaja is the representation of the Transparent Red Ball (commonly but wrongly translated  as “button”) which goes with the grant of the Double-Eyed Peacock Feather, and was the badge of the highest class within the power of the Emperor to bestow. The Maharaja of Nepal possesses also the right to wear the sable coat.

The head-dress which crowns the Royal coat of arms is the “Sri Panch” or official crown worn by the KIng. It is entirely composed of diamonds, pearls emeralds and rubies. There are certain distinctions between the head-dress used by His Majesty and the similar crown which is appropriate to the Prime Minister’s office. The latter is said to be the actual head-dress designed and worn by Jang Bahadur.


The Royal Headdress



Royal nepalese head-dress, front view and side view when worn by King Gyanendra


The King’s head-dress is differenced from that of the Prime Minister by five of these plaques (i.e. circular plaques composed of large diamonds) or “chands.” [11] The back of this crown is ornamented by enormous flatted diamonds about 5/8 of an inch square. It will be seen in the accompanying picture that he too has a bunch of large emeralds, of which the lowest is a gigantic stone of 1¼ inches in length. Behind, His Majesty’s head-dress continues the row of hanging stones, but substitues for them flatted diamonds, each hung as a pendant to the large square diamond above.

Among the Crown jewels of Nepal is one that deserves a passin mention. It is a knot of large diamonds which belonged to the late Empress Eugénie and was sold in 1886. The jewel, which is 5 inches in length by 4¼ inche in breadt, is composed of diamonds of large size.


The Prime Minister’s Head-dress

Head-dress of the Prime minister worn by Joddha Shumsher Rana (1931-’45) [12]


As will be seen from the accompanying illustrations, the Prime Minister’s  head-dress is composed of a cap of closely sewn pearls, ornamented as probably no other royal emblem in the world is adorned. In front there are three circular plaques composed of large diamonds. These are about 3¾ inches across, and with the six diamond-studded and emerald-bearing brackets which heighten the upper part are 5 1/8  inches in height. They bear a representation of the sun and the moon, the faces being blocked out with large diamonds in the central boss . The middle plaque is more elaborate. It bears a representation of the “garuda” and is 5 ¾ inches in height. The emeralds that dpend from the diamond stalks of the three plaques are of conisderable size, probably 5/8 of an inch in length on the average. To the right of this head-dress, in a setting of fine emeralds,[13] is a very remarkable jewel. It is an emerald 3¼ inches long, set with a beautiful carved gold and diamond seal at one end, on which is written in Arabic “Yal-Ali,”which was in the possession of Nadir Shah [14], and Nana Sahib.This is held in position by a clasp of seven diamonds. The seal en of this jewel may be made out in the picture a little way above the cluster of huge emeralds to whichattention must now be drawn. These, too, came from the jewels of Nana Sahib. They form a cluster of four rows, the first and second containing five emeralds each, the thord and fourth containing six larger emeralds, and the clusters is terminated by one enormous emerald, like the others of the most perfect water and measuring 1 inch in length, it is curious the notice that among them are a couple of emeralds that have been slightly gadrooned.

Execept for one enormous emerald, slightly carved and measuring 1¾ inhes in length, the largest of this magnificent parure is that which hangs from the first of the row of heart-shaped or oval diamonds which is carried rund from the front to the back of the head-dress. There are ten hanging on the right side of the head-dress, and eleven on the left. The giant on the right measures 1½ inches in length, and the others are slightly smaller. A few enormous cut rubies are used here and there. The general effect is one of pearly sheen, enhanced by diamonds and toned by these rings and masses and pyramids of great emeralds.

In front rises the bird of paradise plume [15]- these plumes are taken from the paradisia apoda - like a fountain of brown and orange and white. It is set in a head-piece mounted in pearls and gold, and is one of the most beautiful parts of this dignified and splendid coronet.


The Crown of a General


Nepalese General’s Head-dress [16]


The head-dresses of the Nepalese Rana Generals were also set with diamonds, rubies and  had also the bird of paradise plumes. On the front there was a crescent-and-sun crested by a sarpech, all set with diamonds. 


Royal Arms and Seals



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© Hubert de Vries 2012-04-25. Updated 2012-08-15; 2017-03-11



[1] Cited from Wikipedia

[2] Prabhakar SJB Rana: Nepal, Art et Civilisation des Rànàs. Genève, 2002. P. 80

[3] There is much confusion about the history of the nepalese flag and no concise publication is available.

[4] Landon, Perceval: Armorial Bearings and Flag. In: Nepal.. London, 1928. Vol. I, pp. 223-239. Landon Perceval (1868-1927) visited  Nepal in 1924. This makes that the achievement was adopted before that year.

[5] The prefix “Sri”stands for glory, opulence, etc., and is enjoined to be prefixed to the names of the living and of the gods in “Sanskartatwarm”, as quoted in Sabdakaipadruma. It is customary to repeat the prefix a certain number of times before a name to express the dignity of the named. One authority quoted in the above lexicon from Patra Kaumadi by Bararuchi states that six “Sris” should be prefixed before the name of the Guru, five before that of the lord or ruler, two before the name of a servant, four before that of an enemy, three before that of a friend, and so on. Other authorities provide direction to the number of “Sris”to be attached to a name in accordance with the dignity of the named, and in the book referred to, the form of address or “Prasasti” for a King, a minister, the Guru, etc., are given in detail. These “Prasastis”give three “Sris”for the provisions of the “Hindu scriptures”without being an innovation, and a “Chand” in the head-dress corresponds to a ”Sri” in the name of the minister.

[6] But it will be seen from the portrait of Prithwi Narayan that the plume was used in his day.

[7] Drawing by Malcolm McGregor in: Mollo, Andrew: The Armed Forces of World War II. London 2000.

[8] From: Prabhakar SJB Rana et.al.: Nepal, Art ert Civilisation des Ranas. Genève 2002. The pictures apparently from the same album (undated, unspecified) in the collection of Gautam SJB Rànà.

[9] Brus, René: Kronen van de Wereld. Amsterdam, 1992.

[10] Text from: Landon, Perceval: Armorial Bearings and Flag. In: Nepal.  London, 1928. Vol. I. Pp. 236-239.

[11] From only three of these chands, however, do the emerald and diamond heightenings rise.

[12] From Prabhakar, op cit. 2002

[13] The emeralds used on these head-dresses are drop-shape. The diamonds for the most part are “flatted.”

[14] It was Nadir Shah, the Persian conqueror, who ordered a general massace of the inhabitants of Delhi on the 11th March 1739. He carried away with him treasures estimated £ 50,000,000 sterling, among which were the Koh-i-Nor diamond, now one of the State jewels of the British regalia, and the famous peacock-throne which stood in the Diwan-i-khas, and which was estimated the worth of  £ 13,000,000. The late Lord Curzon believed that he had discovered a fragment of  this throne in the Shah’s treasury at Teheran. The peacock throne which exists in the Shah’s palace to-day has no connection with the Indian throne.

[15] The same plumes of the great bird of paradise, though of different sizes, are used by all members of the royal and prime misterial families.

[16] From Prabhakar, op.cit. 2002

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