Sri Lanka Independence Stamps


I’ve had this stamp for awhile but recently picked up the FDC at an auction. It’s a bit grimy but I got it for next to nothing so I won’t complain.

Sri Lanka 60 Years of Independence FDC

What I find interesting about the stamp however, is the way somebody carefully designed the partial arms holding up the flag to ensure each ethnic group was represented. Cute huh?

Sri Lanka 2008 Independence Day Stamp

This got me looking around on the subject of Sri Lanka Independence Day stamps and apparently there are quite a few. Of course, the successful ousting of the white man is a REALLY BIG DEAL in these parts, so it’s only to be expected I suppose.

The first year after Independence (1949), saw the issue of four stamps, two of which are depicted on this first day cover. The national flag came in two face values: 4 cents and 15 cents. The stamp featuring DS Senanayake  (first Prime Minister) also came in two versions: 5 cents and 25 cents.

Ceylon First Anniversary of Independence 1949 FDC

As you can see the original national flag adopted immediately after Independence did not include the coloured bars it now has. These came later.

The design of this flag has evolved gradually in an attempt to achieve national unity since the country, then known as Ceylon, gained its independence from Britain in 1948. Originally,the flag’s central emblem was a gold lion and sword on a red field, derived from the flag of the Sinhalese kingdom of Kandy. As a consequence, it was not popular with the minority groups in the country, and so was amended in 1951 to include a green and orange band, to represent the Muslim and Tamil communities respectively. Finally, when the country adopted the local name of Sri Lanka in 1972, the flag was modified once more, with four leaves of the pipul tree, a Buddhist symbol, added to the four corners of the dark red panel. This version of the flag was in official use from 1978.
via The Island

In any case, Independence didn’t stop us from celebrating the Queen’s coronation in 1953 because, like duh, we were still The Dominion of Ceylon and part of the British Commonwealth.

Ceylon Coronation 1953 FDC

So the next Independence themed issue appears in 1968, when we commemorated 20 years of independence with two stamps. The 5 cent stamp features the lovely Independence Memorial Hall designed by Welshman Neville Wynne-Jones, then chief architect of the Public Works Department who based it on the famous “Magul Maduwa” or Audience Hall of the Kandyan Kingdom.

Sri Lanka 1968 Independence Stamp

Sri Lanka 1968 Independence Stamp – 5 cents

The second one features a ceremonial mace alongside the Sri Lankan flag.

Sri Lanka 1968 Independence Stamp

Sri Lanka 1968 Independence Stamp

I suspect that this is the Queen’s mace because a) still a Commonwealth and b) the current Sri Lankan parliamentary mace does not look like the one in the stamp. And let’s not overlook the highly prominent cross shall we?


Sri Lankan Parliamentary Mace (image via

Now this gorgeous bit of bling was gifted by the British House of Commons in 1949 and has a staff of ebony with ornamentation in silver, 18 carat gold and blue sapphires. Not shabby at all, so it is a pity that it does not seem to be the version depicted on the 1968 stamp.

Anyway, it was 1972, when we officially shook off the last of our British trappings and got Republic of Sri Lanka status. This was celebrated by the famous 15 cent lotus stamp marking the date.


Independence day stamps have subsequently been issued in 1988, 1998 and 2008 (which is what I started with).

Because 1998 marked 50 years there were a total of 5 stamps issued to mark the occasion. Since I don’t have the postal bulletin for this issue I’m going to guess that the Rs 2 design is meant to indicate “Freedom”, Rs 2.50 is “Industry”, Rs 5 is “Culture” and Rs 10 is “Religious unity” (?). The Rs 2.50 issue reproduces a copy of the 1949 flag stamp where you can clearly see the difference between the old and new flags.

Sri Lanka 1998 Independence Day FDC with stamps

Sri Lanka 1998 Independence Day FDC with stamps

The next one should be due in 2018 and will mark 70 years unless they wait for 2023 to make it 75 years. In any case, I hope they make it a good one!

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