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The “Zia” of New Mexico

As a child growing up in West Texas, the second state flag I saw most often was New Mexico’s, or I should say the “Zia,” which adorned New Mexico car license plates. The Land of Enchantment has one of the most highly recognized flags in the Union, with a bold red sun symbol on a brilliantly yellow field.

It is New Mexico’s second official flag, the winner in a design competition conducted by the New Mexico chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. The NM-DAR believed the state would be better represented by a flag unique in history and character.

In 1923 Dr. Harry Mera, a physician and archaeologist from Santa Fe, submitted the winning design in a flag sewn by his wife Reba, and in March 1925, the Mera design became the new official state flag.[photopress:New_Mexico.JPG,thumb,right]

The State Flag of New Mexico displays a modern interpretation of an ancient sun symbol, which was found on a late nineteenth century water jar discovered in the Zia Pueblo. This pueblo is believed to have been one of the Seven Golden Cities of Cibola, sought by explorer Vasques de Coronado.

The Zia philosophy focuses on harmony between man and the universe, and the sacred number four, all bound together in the circle of life, without beginning and without end. Thus the number four is expressed in the four directions of the earth: north, south, east, and west; and in the four seasons of the year: spring, summer, autumn and winter.

With the twenty-four hours of a day, it is noted by sunrise, noon, evening and night; and by life itself, with childhood, youth, adulthood and old age. The Zia believe too, that life comes from four sacred obligations: development of a strong body, a clear mind, a pure spirit and devotion to the welfare of people/family. These ideas are represented by the four sets of four rays, set at right angles, starting with the circle.

The red and yellow of the flag the colors carried by the Spanish Conquistadors, representing Queen Isabella of Spain.

[photopress:New_Mexico_Twitchell.gif,thumb,left]New Mexico’s first official state flag was designed by Ralph Emerson Twitchell in 1915. The flag was a field of blue, with a small US flag in the upper left corner, and the state’s seal in the lower right corner. The words “New Mexico” were lettered in-between, on a diagonal line starting in the lower right corner and running to the upper left corner.

2 thoughts on “The “Zia” of New Mexico

  1. […] you recognize the flag to the right? It’s a replica of the original New Mexico flag that flew between 1915 and 1920. A local business person found references to the flag and is now […]

  2. […] distinctive. All of my neighbor states have terrific flags, and I have written about the flags of New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana here and […]

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