The Cross of Burgundy flag (which is shown here with yellow background, flag of the Spanish Empire during the reign of Philip II of Spain (1556-1598)) served as the flag of the Spanish viceroys in the New World. New Mexico's flag uses similar colors.
The Daughters of the American Revolution pushed New Mexico to design a contemporary and unique flag in 1920. A contest to design the new state flag was won by Dr. Harry Mera of Santa Fe, New Mexico. Mera was an archaeologist who was familiar with the Zia Sun Symbol found at Zia Pueblo on a 19th-century pot. The symbol has sacred meaning to the Zia. Four is a sacred number which symbolizes the Circle of Life: the four directions, the four times of day, the four stages of life, and the four seasons. The circle binds the four elements of four together. His winning design is the flag that the state uses today. The salutation, “I salute the flag of the State of New Mexico and the Zia symbol of perfect friendship among united cultures," was many years ago commonly recited in New Mexico public schools after the United States pledge of allegiance.
For the first 14 years of statehood, New Mexico had no official flag. During the San Diego World's Fair of 1915, the fair featured an exhibit hall in which all the state flags were displayed. Since New Mexico did not have an official flag, an unofficial flag was displayed, consisting of a blue field with the United States flag in the upper left corner, the words "New Mexico" and "47" (because New Mexico is the 47th state) in silver lettering in the center of the flag, and the state seal in the bottom right corner. Some historical references (including Cram's Unrivaled Atlas of the World) also show the words "The Sunshine State" wrapped around the seal in the lower right corner.