History Of The Iranian Lion With Sword and Sun Symbol

Iranian Design Symbol Of A Lion With Sword and Sun Motif

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The Iranian Lion with Sword and Sun motif is one of the main emblems of Iran and it was formerly an element that was incorporated into Iran’s national flag. The Persian design itself became a popular symbol in Iran around the 12th century. The symbol of the lion and sun is, for the most part, derived from the astronomical / astrological configurations of the ancient sign of the sun in the house of Leo. The design was “only” a secular astrological and zodiacal symbol.

Antique Iranian Lion And Sword by Nazmiyal
Antique Iranian Lion And Sword Persian Rug Symbol

That said, under the rule of the Safavid empire and first Qajar kings, the pattern began to be associated with Shia Islam. During the Safavid era, the design pattern used to be a representation of the state and the Islamic / Muslim religion (which were considered the two pillars of society).

Antique Iranian Tile Depicting Lion with Sword and Sun Motif by Nazmiyal
Antique Iranian Tile from Akieh Moaven Ol Molk Kermanshah Depicting Lion with Sword and Sun Motif

Only later on, during the Qajar era rule, the Lion and Sun design became a national Iranian emblem. In the 19th century, the design received a more nationalistic interpretation.

13th Century Partial Abu Mashar Astrology Manuscript With Lion Motif by Nazmiyal
13th Century Partial Abu Mashar Astrology Manuscript With Lion Motif

During Fat′h-Ali Shah Qajar’s rule, the pattern changed substantially. One example was the addition of a crown to the design which was a representation of the monarchy rule. It was during this period that the Islamic aspect of the monarchy was to be played down or de-emphasized. Naturally, this general shift in approach had affected the emblem’s symbolism.

The design’s meaning had changed a few times during the Qajar rule era and through the Iranian revolution which took place in 1979. While scholars as well politicians had wanted to change emblem’s design, it remained the official Iranian symbol until the revolution in 1979.

Iranian Imperial Coat of Arms With Lion Sword and Sun Motif Nazmiyal
Iranian Imperial Coat of Arms With Lion Sword and Sun Motif From The Qajar Dynasty 1907 – 1925

The symbol was later (after the 1979 revolution) removed from public spaces as well as government run locations. It was during this period of time that the “Lion and Sun” emblems were replaced by today’s Coat of arms design of Iran.

Official Imperial State Of Iran Emblem 1973 - 1979 by Nazmiyal
Official Imperial State Of Iran Emblem 1973 – 1979 depicting the Lion with Sword and Sun Motif

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