Mahdi Flag

A flag of the Mahdi movement, Sudan, late 19th century. A flag of the Mahdi movement, Sudan, late 19th century. © Trustees of the British Museum, acc. no. Af1949,46.694.b.

The Mahdi flag now in the British Museum, London (BM acc. no. AF1949,46.694.b) represents a particular type of flag used by the Mahdi and his followers in the late nineteenth century. The Mahdi army used two types of flags to indicate the position of their leaders.

The main flag was in green and used to show the position and presence of the Mahdi. The second type, one of which illustrated here, was used by his emirs (commanders) and was of plain cotton decorated with appliqué Qur`anic texts. The letters of the text were made from small pieces of blue cloth sewn onto the ground material. This technique is related to the appliqué banners and wall-hangings associated with the Street of the Tentmakers in Cairo.

The text reads: "God the compassionate, the merciful, the sole restorer of everything. There is no god but God and Mohammed is his Prophet. Mohammed the Mahdi is the successor of the Prophet of God."

See also: the Mahdi and decorative needlework

British Museum online catalogue (retrieved 8 June 2016)


Last modified on Monday, 16 January 2017 17:30