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Monday, April 26, 2010

Quest for a Flag for India,part-V and The European flags of Exploration, Colonial Ambitions and Settlements in India; Portuguese Flag

At the time of Home Rule Movement in1917, Dr. Annie Besant and B. P. Wadia in consultation with B. G. Tilak and Mohammad Ali Jinnah devised the Home Rule Flag, which had five Red (for Hindus) and four Green (for Muslims) stripes arranged alternately superimposed with seven Stars in the configuration of Sapta Rishi (or the Great Bear) typical of the Seven Wise Sages of India who were the Founders of her civilization along with the symbol of Crescent moon & star of the Mohammedans. On the canton there was the British Union Jack. The inclusion of the Union Jack symbolizing the goal of dominion status; the people, however, did not take kindly to it. 

The Home rule Flag was hoisted at the 1917 Congress Session in Calcutta under the Presidentship of Annie Besant

The all Hindi postmark from Ratnagiri ( Tilak’s birth place) issued on his centenary of birth on  23. 07. 1956.

(In this column we shall discuss about the various European flags that were brought by the Western explorers with colonial ambitions in India in early 16th and 17th century)

 India had extensive links with the Hellenic and Roman civilizations between the 4th. Century B.C. and the 4th Century A.D. Alexander’s invasion of India gave rise to the Hellenic links and very considerable maritime trade established link with the Roman Empire.

In Search of Water- a Hindu Plate. The Stamp commemorates the 2300 years of the civilising effect of theAlexander the Great.

Portuguese navigators opened the age of discovery by leading the West to meet the East. Renewed contact with the West began with the arrival of the Portuguese navigator Vasco-da-Gama at Calicut in 1498.

The English description at the back of the stamp (on the gum-side) reads; “A composition with Hindu elements” on the portrait of Vasco-da-Gama which hangs in the Sociedade de Geografia, Lisbon”.

The Portuguese voyages of exploration were inspired by Henry the Navigator, who was master of the Order of Christ. The Flag of the Order was used extensively by Portuguese ships. It was in memory of Henry the Navigator that the Armilla or Armillary Sphere was used in later Portuguese flags.

Cartografia Portuguesa; Carta do atlas de lopo Homem-Reines,1519

 The map of Indian sub-continent shows Portuguese flags of the 16th.Century.

World’s first ‘Omnibus Issue’- a set of 8 (eight) stamps in eight different designs were issued on 1st April,1898 from Portugal and her overseas Colonies including Portuguese India ( Estado da India) on the occasion of four hundred anniversary of Vasco-da- Gama’s Discovery of Sea Route to India.
** Portugal since then has issued innumerable stamps on Vasco-da-Gama, San Gabriel- his Flagship, as well as, on the maritime route to India. It offers a very good possibility of developing a fascinating World class One Frame Exhibit with its extensive philatelic variations, such as, overprinted and surcharged issues,  and a tremendous range of varieties, errors and reprints.

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