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Yeniçeri Alay Bayrağı / Procession Flag of Janissary Corps

Alay Bayrağı /Procession Flg of JanissariesThe main flag of the Janissary Corps was carried in front of the marching army. It contains three major symbols: A double-edged sword, a hand and a circle, all white on red base. Each symbol represents an important concept within the janissary worldview. The double-edged sword (Zülfikar/Dhulfikyar) is the legendary sword of Caliph Ali, the warrior role model for the janissarries; the open hand with five fingers (pençe / penche) stands for “The Holy Five” constituting of (Prophet Muhammed, Caliph Ali, Ali’s wife Fatima, and Ali’s sons Hasan and Husein); the white circle is the full moon.

Note that the word pençe (hand) comes from the Persian “penç” meaning “five”. At the initial stage of establishment, the janissaries were recruited from the prisoners of war at a rate of 1/5, that is one of the five captives were recruited by the sultan for his elite guard units. Hence, since the very beginning of the establishment of the Janissary Corps, the term Pençik (Penchik: One of five) had become a keyword for individual jannissaries. This in turn, makes it possible for the janissaries to identify themselves with Ali, the greatest warrior of Islam as depicted within the “Holy Five” mentioned above.

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