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As early as in the sixth century A.D. a sovereign principality of Bukhara existed. Later the city was for a long time the centre of an important region also comprising Samarkand and Taškent. Because the region was on the silk road, traces of Chinese as well as Persian cultural influences can be seen there.

From the earliest time of the White Huns or Kök-turcs frescoes are preserved showing princes of fairly mongol complexion who, however are dressed of mixed Chinese-Sassanian fashion. On their clothes are large medallions enclosing beasts of Sassanian origin also known from Iran. Such beasts are the senmurw, a pegasus and an elephant which can be interpreted as badges of rank of military officials. Also there are hog’s heads, and a goose which can be associated with another civil rank.

In the time  of Tamerlane Samarkand was the capital of his empire. Tamerlane almost for certain used a simurg or phoenix as an emblem and that again is a symbol of mixed Chinese-Persian origin.

Another symbol probably dating from the time of Tamerlane is a faced sun radiant which was the national emblem of the Seljuq Empire, existing 1038-1194. It is said that the ambition of Tamerlane  has been the restoration of that Empire against the mongols of the Il-khanate and that would explain the use of this symbol.

An achievement probably inspired by the achievement of Tamerlane but now lost, is on the Madrasa Nadir Diwan Beg in Bukhara. It is the Seljuq sun supported by two simurgs. As this is the only example of such an achievement in



after Uzbek Rule

Gani Dynasty (Astrahanids)

Din Muhammad b. Gani Muhammad b. Yar Muhammad



Baqi Muhammad


Wali Muhammad


Imam Quli


Nadir Muhammad


Abd al-Aziz


Subhan Quli


Ubayd Allah I


Abd al-Mumin


Ubayd Allah II b. Timur Sultan


Muhammad Rahim


Abu’l Gazi


Manqit Dynasty

Mir Ma’sum Sha


Saiyid Amir Haydar Tura


Mir Husayn


Mir Umar


Mir Nasrulla Bahadur


Mir Sayid Mizaffar Bahadur


Russian Protectorate 1873-1918

Mir Sayid Mizaffar Bahadur


Saiyid Amir Abd al Ahad Han


Saiyid Amir Mir Alim Han


Soviet Rule  2.IX.1920




Divided between Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan December 1924

Bukharan context known, we cannot be sure if this actually represents the achievement of the State of Bukhara in the 17th century.



Sun and simurgs above the entrance of the Madrasa Nadir Diwan Beg in Bukhara, 17th c.


In 1865 Taškent was captured by Russian from the emir of Bukhara. It was annexed and administered as Ferghana Territory (from 3 March 1876). Two years later the Emir had to cede Samarkand to Russia and from 1868 the emirate was a Russian vassal-state, bordered in the north  by Russian Turkestan and in the south by the Amu Darja.







Bukhara Hanligi




After the Russian revolution Bukhara was a sovereign emirate for some time. Its emblem can be found on paper money issued in 1918 and 1919. [1]

On this paper money are printed the national emblem and the seal, the emblem, and the the arms of the emir. It is likely that these emblems were also used in the 19th century and before the Russian conquest.


Central piece of a 5000 tengas-note, 1918

showing the national emblem and the princely seal


The national emblem consists of a crescent and a sun radiant surrounded by a ornamental bordure.

Compared with the achievement on the Madrasa Nadir Diwan Beg the simurgs are replaced by a crescent and the sun has no face. The emblem means: The government of the (Bukhara) Empire.

The face of the sun has been replaced by the seal of the ruler thus making the composed emblem mean: The government of Bukhara of Saiyid Amir Mir Alim Han.


The seal of the emir consists of a tughra of his name and titles in persian script. 




His emblem consists of a crescent and five-pointed star, be it inclined to the dexter or in the usual position.



Central medallion on a 100 tengas-note, 1919

showing the princely arms within a signature in persian script


His coat of arms consist of a sun radiant charged with a disc with a crescent and star (= head of state of the empire)


The royal standard of Bukhara is known from 1917 but may be much older. It can be considered to be the emblem of the ruler of Bukhara. It shows:



The royal standard labeled “drapeau nationale Boukhare. [2]


Royal Standard: Vert, a crescent and five-pointed star, in base an open right hand, between the legend: Al-soltān zell Allāh (the sultan is the shadow of God) and the šahāda: La illaha ill-Allah in arab script all Or; and a bordure tenne decorated with ornaments Sable. [3]


The green is the colour of the descendants of the Prophet.

The crescent is the Muslim emblem of State, the star is the emblem of the ruler, the crescent and star is the emblem of the head of state.

The open hand (of Fatima) symbolizes the five principles of Islam.

The tail-shaped ornaments probably symbolize yak-tails or tugh’s which are symbols of military rank, seven being the number of tugh’s of a sultan in wartime.

In all the banner means: The muslim head of state, descendant of the Prophet, sultan and shadow of God.


A flag, preserved in the national Museum of Bukhara, is supposed to be a war ensign but may also be a national flag. It shows:


Ensign: Azure, a crescent, in chief three five-pointed stars 2 and 1, in base an open right hand, all Argent, within a bordure Gules, al. Purpure.


* It should be remarked that a crescent and three stars was the badge of rank of an admiral / emir in Ottoman military hierarchy. Such a badge was also used by the khedives and kings of Egypt (1867-1952).


Бухарская Народна Советская Республика



In 1920 the emir was dislodged and a People’s Council’s Republic was proclaimed (Бухарская Народна Советская Республика). In the same year it issued paper money on which the seal of the emir was replaced by an emblem consisting of a sheaf of djugara (sorghum) and a sickle in saltire which was probably meant to be the seal of the People’s Council.

A crescent-and-star within a cartouche, the emblem of the head of state, was maintained on the right side.

10,000 tengas note, 1920.

showing the national emblem and the sultan’s crescent and star within a cartouche


An emblem for the new republic was adopted by proposal of the 3rd All Bukhara Kurultai in August 1922. The emblem is:


Emblem: A disc Gules charged with a sheaf of sorghum and a sickle in saltire proper, in chief a crescent and star Or and in base a ribbon with the name Бухарская Народна Советская Республика in persian script.


The description of the emblem in Art. 78 of the Constitution of the B.N.S.R. reads:


“Государственный герб Б.Н.С.Р. состоит из изображения на красном фоне зеленого снопа джугары с воткнутым в него золотым серпом. В верхней части герба над снопом помещается серп полумесяца, внутри которого находится золотая пятиконечная звезда. Сноп окружен надписью: “Бухарская Народная Советская Республика””. [4]


đSee illustration in the head of this essay.


10 Ruble note, 1922

showing the Bukhara national emblem.


In 1923 Bukhara was united with Khoresm and Turkestan into a Socialist Council’s Republic. On 27 October 1924 this republic fell apart into Turkestan, Kara-Kalpak and Uzbekistan. Today Bukhara is a province of Uzbekistan.


For the flags of the BNSR đ Buhara



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© Hubert de Vries 2011-04-13

[1] http://aes.iupui.edu/rwise/countries/uzbekistan.html

[2] Amir Sayyed ‘Ālem Khan: La voix de la Boukharie opprimée. Paris, 1929, Frontispiece

[3] The Flag Bulletin 1/1, 1962, pp. 16-17; W. Trembicky et al.: Flags of Non-Russian Peoples under Soviet Rule.  In: The Flag Bulletin 8/3, (special issue). Lexington, Mass., 1969. p. 121.

[4] Центральный Государственный архив Республики Узбекистан, ф.Р-47, оп.1, д.1, л.248


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