Since there wasn't an official New Mexico state flag during the early years of its statehood, an unofficial flag was displayed at the San Diego World’s Fair in 1915. This flag, one of very few state flags that featured the Stars and Stripes on its canton, was composed of the words “New Mexico” and the numeral “47” in silver and the state seal in the lower right corner. In 1920, the Daughters of the American Revolution sponsored a competition to create a new design for a state flag. Dr. Harry Mera, a physician and archeologist from Santa Fe, won the contest with an interpretation of a Zia sun symbol discovered on a 19th century water jar found at the Zia Pueblo. The sun symbol contains four groups of rays at right angles with four rays in each group, with the inner rays longer than the outer ones. Four is a sacred number for the Zia Indians, repeating itself in the rays radiating from the center of the sun, which symbolizes the Circle of Life. The sun is red in the center of a yellow background, colors chosen to honor the Spanish explorers who came to Mexico in the 1500s.
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