Mongolia came under Manchu rule in the 17th century, when China was ruled by the Qing Dynasty. Around 1862 it had adopted a triangular jack which came to be used as the state flag in 1872. It featured a dragon, symbol of Imperial power, on a field of yellow, representing the Manchu and the Imperial colour. The dragon was represented with a red "zhu", a pearl, symbolising power and glory. In 1889 a rectangular flag was adopted, with basically the same design.
On 29 December 1911 Outer Mongolia declared its independence from the Qing Dynasty when it was overthrown and the eighth Jebtsundamba Khutuktu (Buddhist spiritual leader) was enthroned as the Bogd Khan (Great Khaan or Emperor) of Mongolia. A dark red flag was adopted featuring the "Soyombo", the national symbol of Mongolia and, on the flag itself and the three tails from the fly, text in Soyombo script, invented by Zanabazar, the first Mongolian spiritual leader, serving as the alphabet for Mongolian Buddhism.
The Soyombo is the national emblem of Mongolia. Its origins are closely associated with Tibetan (and Mongolian) Buddhism. The elements in the Soyombo, from the top, have the following significance:
Initially the Soyombo and other Buddhist symbols were placed on the flag in different colours with religious meanings under the Bogd Khan. The design was not uniform and when the Mongolian People's Republic was proclaimed on 26 November 1924 it adopted a red flag with the "Soyombo" in yellow. It had three red tails from the fly and the name of the country - Bügd Nairamdakh Mongol Ard Uls - was inscribed in Mongolian script on both sides of the national symbol. In 1939, after the victory of Mongolian and Soviet troops against the Japanese in the Battle of Khalkhin Gol, the river on the border with the Japanese puppet state Manchukuo (Manchuria), branches of Nelumbo, a type of lotus flower, a symbol of victory, were added. In 1940 the flag of the Mongolian People's Republic was "modernised" slightly, resulting in the loss of its three tails. And in 1941, after the introduction of the Cyrillic script, the old Mongolian writing was removed from the flag. There was also a variant with the symbols - the Soyombo and the lotus flower of victory - in blue. A State arms had been adopted in 1940 and this was altered slightly the following year, replacing the country's name in Mongolian script with the abbreviation in Cyrillic.
On 23 February 1949 Mongolia adopted a new national flag, a vertical tricolour of red - light blue - red; light blue, the colour of the sky, is considered the national colour. The stripe at the hoist featured the Soyombo as in previous flags, but now topped with the star of communism, all in gold and in 1960 the State arms was redrawn. In 1992, when the communist government had fallen, the star was removed and a new state emblem was adopted, featuring the Soyombo and a "wind horse" symbols of Tibetan Buddhism, as a symbol of independence, sovereignty and spirit.