Archive for January, 2011

Antananarivo and Lübeck and Flags

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

Seriously now, how often have you heard the words Antananarivo and Lübeck mentioned – together? (Now be really honest: how many of you have ever even heard of Antananarivo and Lübeck?)

So the story begins with a friend dropping off some old magazines he thought might be interesting reading. In the July/August 2010 issue (hey, they were old) of the Atlantic Monthly, The Atlantic Logoan article entitled The Politically Incorrect Guide to Ending Poverty by one Sebastian Mallaby caught my eye. Intriguing title, eh? [Say, thanks to the Atlantic for having the article in full on their website.]

Well, to be quite honest with you, Dear Reader, yours truly may have heard of Lübeck and even have a vague remembrance of the Hanseatic League, Henry the Lion and all that, but Antananarivo was just not in the ol’ knowledge bank. Thank heavens for Wikipedia. [Hope you’re getting involved with their 10th anniversary activities on the 15th of this month. Thanks, Wikipedia!]

Back on track: of course you know how easy it is to be side-tracked whilst crusin’ the web – even with all the best intentions of doing focused (ha!) research. Anything with the word “flag” always sidetracks us, as you might suspect. Well the flag of Lübeck, albeit traditional, is frankly, a bit quotidian.Flag of Lübeck Not bad, mind you, just like a lot of many North German cities.

Antananarivo’s flag however, really knocks some serious socks – so to speak. Flag of AntananarivoEven in heraldic terms (the way coats of arms and such are described) it rocks: “quartered, one and four or a zebu head sable, two and three azure a fleur de lis or.” That means something like: it’s divided in four parts – the top left and bottom right sections are gold (“or”) and show the black basically (sable) head of a zebu (yes! really! a zebu head. How cool is that?); the top right and bottom left sections are blue (“azure”) and show a gold fleur de lis (showing Madagascar’s history with France). [Boy, don’t those heralds have a way with words?] Bet that’s one of a very few flags that sport a zebu head on it.

Oh yes, did we mention that Antananarivo (the name means “the City of the Thousands”) is the capital city of Madagascar? [You probably knew that the adjective for Madagascar is Malagasy. France – French; Germany – German; Madagascar – Malagasy. Go figure. It’s fun to say.] ‘Way back in the day, as they say, pre-smALL FLAGs, we ran a business called Other Lands and sold ethnic music CD’s from all over; a personal favorite was A World Out of Time: Henry Kaiser & David Lindley in Madagascar – both volumes. Love that Malagasy music. [There, see, it can be used in a sentence.]

Now to be fair, these are flags of cities and we don’t do (haven’t done yet anyway) too much with city flags. Of course Washington, DC (in a few products) and our newest embroidered  Mini Patch of New York City.Mini Patch of New York City

Say, I’ve heard that NYC has some pretty rockin’ music of its own.