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Irkutsk Region (Russia)

Irkutskaâ oblasth

Last modified: 2021-07-17 by valentin poposki
Keywords: irkutsk | tiger | beaver | sable | marten | law |
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Иркутская область

Flag of Irkursk Region image by Tomislav Šipek, 18 February 2020

See also: Other sites:

Presentation of Irkutsk Region

(Note: You need an Unicode-aware software and font to correctly view the Cyrillic text on this page. See here transliteration details).

  • Name (English): Irkutsk Region • (Russian): Иркутская область | Irkutskaâ oblasth
  • Capital: Иркутск | Irkutsk
  • Area: 745 500 km2 (~287 800 sq.mi.) • Population: 2 591 300 inhabitants in 2000  (these figures not including Ust-Ord Buriatia)
  • Status: Region (область | oblasth) within the Russian Federation
  • Federal District: Siberia • Economic region: East Siberia
  • License plate code: 38 • Ham radio code: IR • ISO 3166-2 code: IRK
  • Flag adopted on 1997 • Coat of arms adopted on 1997

Description of the flag

One note: in the law, the wolf isn’t surrounded by a wreath.
Pascal Vagnat, 21 Dec 1998

The text and the image at the official website contradicts each other — in this case I’m sure the text is right. The web image [at the official website] was wrong, showing the flag without the wreath, while the law text prescribes it.
António Martins, 09 Jan 2000 and 12 Jan 2000

I have translated the most important part of this law (from, comments in brackets:

CHAPTER II — Oblast’s coat of arms

Article 4. coat of arms description

1. Blazon «Argent, running black babr [the old Russian (Siberian) name of tiger] with red eyes, holding of sable [fur animal like ermine] in its mouth.» The heraldic colours are symbolising:
a) black — prudence, humility, sorrow;
b) red — courage, unfearful


1. Flag is a rectangular with 3 vertical stripes, two ones are blue and middle one is white. In the center of the last — the main part of coat of arms is — black babr running to the left side and holding of red [as in the description!] sable in its mouth. The babr is surrounded with stylized branches of cedar. [the image has a mistake — the wreath is ommitted]. Proportions: 2:3. The width of middle stripe is 1/2 of flag’s length. The flags colours are symbolising:
a) blue — symbol of water. At this context it symbolises Baikal Lake, Angara and other rivers of region;
b) white — symbol of purity, good, modesty. It symbolises the purity of thoughts of the region’s habitants. Also, it is symbol of white Siberian winters;
c) green colour of cedar’s branches — colour of hope, joy, abundance. It is also symbol of unical flora and fauna, the forest wealth of region.
The other texts are not very interesting, they describe the use of coat of arms and flag. At time when the first coat of arms had been granted City of Irkutsk (1790), tigers still lived in that region. The huge tiger was symbolised the power of region, and little sable — its wealth. At 1878 almost all russian coats of arms were revised, and because of mistake of Moscow’s officials the tiger have had a black tincture (untill that it was natural) and very strange shape… (the word "babr" is very close to word "bobr" — engl. "beaver"). So, terrible tiger was transformed into river worker — beaver.
Michael Simakov, 30 Sep 1998Flag above based on
Tomislav Šipek, 18 February 2020

Coats of arms of Irkutsk City, Irkutsk Governorate, and Irkutsk Region

Flag of Irkursk Regionimage by Pascal Gross, 21 Jan 2000

Irkutsk became a town in 1686 and after another 10 years was granted the arms of argent a panther, running on green grass holding a sable in its jaws. From: The Complete Guide to the Soviet Union, Victor and Jennifer Louis, 1991.
Jarig Bakker, 08 Jul 2001

Speransov’s book [spe74] said basically that the coat of arms of Irkutsk oblast is based on the previous coat of arms of the city of Irkutsk. That one is gained on 26 Oct 1790: «Argent, running tiger holding a marten in his mouth.» based on older seal used by the city. Accompanying image shows the tiger in natural colours, running over a green naturalistic field with some stones in the base of shield. As far as I can understand, the real tiger, that was not known in the region was soon replace by some other local animal, and when the Irkutsk Governorate gained shield in 5 Jul 1878, the animal was officially a black babr The naturalistic field in base is lost, and direction of running is not to the heraldically proper dexter. The image accompanying this is very similar to what is posted on the mentioned site [mirrored here], but it is not the same artwork. The image on the site also is missing the shield, and silver background of it.
Željko Heimer, 26 Sep 1998

As for the animals depicted, there seems to be some confusion: The current law says it is a black tiger holding a sable (animal, not tincture) on it’s mouth — but the animal on the flag looks rather like a wolf… To complicate matters even further, the coat of arms shows a large Mustelidae instead of the wolf / tiger shown in the other images…
António Martins, 12 Jan 2000

The Irkutsk big animal is actually tiger (= "babr" in some local dialect) but during a revision of Russian coats of arms during XIX century (or in first decade of the XX century? I’m not sure), this animal began to be erroneously depicted as wolf-like beast. The sable is indeed Martes zibellina, an East Euroasian marten. The heraldic term "sable", by the way, is not color but fur, originally.
Jan Zrzavy, 13 Jan 2000

The real question is: what is shown on actual flags currently flown by the dozen on the territory of Irkutsk region and on other selected locations (Moscow etc)…?
António Martins, 13 Jan 2000

At are shown two coats of arms of the city. One that shows the fox on a Russian flag shield, and another which isn’t clear enough but look like the old imperial one.
Dov Gutterman, 16 Dec 1998

Alternate flag?

Alternate flag of Irkursk Region image by António Martins, 16 Nov 1998

Horizontal 1:2 tricolor of dark orange — red — white, as displayed at the Catalonian Vexillological Association’s on-line database on Russian flags, at
António Martins, 16 Nov 1998