Archive for the ‘Vexillology’ Category

History, Music, and FLAGS!

Friday, July 31st, 2015

What a gift friends are! One recently gave us another flag (related) book, National Anthems for the United Nations and their Allies, copyright (get this) 1943, by The Boston Music Company. They’re still in business, but apparently this title is no longer in print. National Anthems of the United Nations and their AlliesSo to appreciate this, one needs to put oneself in the mind-set of the early WWII world. From the opening page:

Ardent and eternal as is the yearning for peace in all civilized nations, it is the perils confronted, the sufferings endured, the heroic sacrifices made in time of war which crystalize and intensify those feelings which human beings from time immemorial have termed, each in their own language, PATRIOTISM.

Thus it is that almost all National Anthems are martial songs. …

Goodness!. Well, enough of that for a while. Now to the bonus of this little gift: included in the book was a two-page foldout of flags, divided into “UNITED NATIONS” and “ASSOCIATED POWERS”. What a score. (Excuse the pun: score-anthems. Get it?)

Flags of Allies

The anthems in the book’s index are not quite so arranged, listing 31 anthems of “THE UNITED NATIONS” (we won’t list them here), followed by those of 16 “ASSOCIATED POWERS”. We will list them here as they are called out in this footnote in the index:

Free Denmark and Fighting France are officially at war with the Axis; Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela have broken off diplomatic relations with Germany, and like the people of Denmark, Estonia, Iceland, Iran, Latvia, Liberia, and Lithuania, are actively assisting the United Nations.

The two countries that really caught our interest were Free Denmark and Fighting France (formerly known as Free France). Of the former, our usually reliable friends at WikipediA were virtually silent. But there was a boatload of information on Free France, including this little graphic of its flag with its Croix de Lorraine.Flag of Free France The flag shown on the foldout with the “rhomboid field” is actually the Free French naval jack and French naval honour jack. (More on that in the same Wiki article.)

As a last note (sorry), we glanced at the last page of anthems: Ethiopia. At the bottom, this footnote:

Wartime transportation difficulties made it impossible to  obtain from Ethiopia a copy of this Anthem in time to include it in the first edition. We are glad to be able to add it to this revised edition but technical printing problems compel us to place it on the last page instead of in it alphabetical position in the book.

Fascinating.

Flag Daze

Sunday, May 31st, 2015

OK. It’s most likely summer-ish somewhere in the world at any given time. Here, in the northern hemisphere it’s getting on to that time of year now and, of course it’s flag flying season for some; for others, it’s year-round. In any event, when we think of flags, we often think international flags. Elsewhere, we’ve noted that the single obvious symbol that represents a nation is its flag. However (most) countries also have mottos. Yes, it’s true!

Our good friends at WikipediA have a pretty interesting page about those mottos, and a couple of things pop out at us from that page.

One is that some countries don’t have a national motto! Imagine. And where’s Eddie Izzard on this important issue? “No motto – no country!” Perhaps someone should sponsor a contest for those unfortunate lands.

Secondly, is the obvious use of flags to identify the countries listed. Why do we do this? Of course a little bit of color often livens up any display, but really can you alphabetize colors and patterns? Perhaps the alphabet gets one close and then looking for the flag pattern (assuming that’s known) makes the final search a bit easier. Surely one doesn’t scan a couple of hundred flag designs looking for one in particular – does one?

Of note is WikipediA’s selection of Brazil/Brasil whose flag also has their motto. It’s a two-fer.

Brazil - flag and motto

The national motto of Brazil, Ordem e progresso (Order and progress), is inscribed on the Brazilian flag.

You’re so Vane, I’ll bet you think this Flag is about you.

Sunday, January 11th, 2015
Weathervane

OK. Technically, “weathercock” means “a weather vane in the form of a cock”, but we thought this image was way cooler.

Several months ago, one of our favorite websites, Dictionary.com, had as their “Word for the Day”, the word “Vane“. (Not to be confused with vain or vein.) Seems pretty simple.

Although there are a few definitions, most all of them pertain to something that moves in the wind. But wait. There’s more.

One of our other favorite sites, the Online Etymology Dictionary, gives a little more depth to the discussion, to wit:

[“Vane” entered the English language] early [in the] 15[th ] c[entury]., [as a ]southern England alteration … of fane “flag, banner.”

Darth VaderYou knew of course, Dear Reader, that “F” and “V” were/are often confused. Consider – SPOILER ALERT – Darth Vader <- “Dark Father”.

Alas, once again, I digress.

It seems that “fane”, meaning “weathercock”, came to us late in the 14th century, from the Old English fana “flag, banner”, from Proto-Germanic *fanon” (cf. Old Frisian fana, Gothic fana “piece of cloth”, Old High German fano, German Fahne “flag, standard”); possibly cognate with Latin pannus “piece of cloth” (see pane). (Not, we presume, to be confused with pain.)

Now we here at smALL FLAGs eschew job titles, but in some places that seems to be required: consequently, I’ve long used the title “Fahnen Meister”. Get it? Fade to dark.

Respect Our Flag

Friday, February 28th, 2014

A couple of weeks ago, we were visiting at the 29th annual Oregon Asian Celebration in Eugene, OR. We’ve been to nearly every one of them and really enjoy this festival. Of course they were celebrating the Year of the Horse, but we blogged about that last month. In any event, we were strolling around (as one is wont to do at such events) and stumbled upon an interesting booth with displays regarding Indonesia.

Indonesian booth

That handsome fellow pictured here is one Edwin Suchranudin – #suchacoolnametosay. Nice guy.

Suchranudin card

(Unfortunately, at the time of this writing, the website shown on his card is under construction, but his email – if you can’t read it from his card – is tbedwins@kjrisfo.net.) We asked him about the banner behind him and he was quite proud to tell us about its symbolism. We didn’t tell him that we had just blogged about that in January 2012. We also didn’t tell him that we follow @RespectOurFlag on our Twitter account. It’s also all about Indonesia, but hasn’t had a posting since December 2012 – also at the time of this writing. Was it something we said? Follow them. Follow us. Follow each other. Be happy. Go “Sang Saka Merah Putih”!

Horsing around with Newness

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

horn blowingYou may well know, Dear Reader, that we seldom toot our own horn in these postings. However (you were waiting for it), toot toot.

 

 

 

You know this is the beginning of yet another trip around our favorite star (aka New Year) and it’s just about to begin another Year of the Horse for our Asian friends. But allow us to digress: This is the clever Chinese word for horse;Chinese character for horse with a little imagination, one can almost see the animal in the character, as this artist shows.2014 Year of the horse graphic

Of course with a little more imagination, it could even look like a flag. (Or, with even more imagination  it could look like just about anything, but we digress from our digression.)

We thought it would be appropriate to remind you of some of the newest products now available for your amusement. These have all been added to our website in the past 6 months.

Yes, yes. We keep adding to our utterly amazing line of embroidered patches.

A couple of patches we probably should have had up long ago:

(more…)

What’s Right about the US Flag? What’s Left?

Sunday, April 29th, 2012

Harper's April 2012 cover - detailWhat’s wrong with this picture? OK. Let me back up. The above image is from the cover of the April issue of the second-oldest continuously published monthly magazine in the United States. (Scientific American is the oldest, but it’s not as likely they have a flag on their cover often.) That said, this artwork by one Michael Mitra really shocked us. [Yes, we cropped out the part the editors and artist thought was controversial.] No, what torqued our jaws was the alignment of the flag backdrop. It even inspired us to add a new question regarding Flag Etiquette on our FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page. It, in turn, offers a link to the CRS Report for Congress entitled The United States Flag: Federal Law Relating to Display and Associated Questions. In that document, §7 (i) clearly states:

When displayed either horizontally or vertically against a wall, the union should be uppermost and to the flag’s own right, that is, to the observer’s left. When displayed in a window, the flag should be displayed in the same way, with the union or blue field to the left of the observer in the street.

Well, to be fair, the image does show the proper use of the little Lapel Pin. (Of course we sell those.) The CRS Report states:

… the Code recognized the wearing of a flag patch or pin on the left side (near the heart) …

So is all this much ado about nothing? We think not, but would enjoy your comments.

The ‘strait’ scoop on Detroit’s flag

Saturday, March 31st, 2012

Found another rabbit hole to explore. A short while back, and perhaps still going on, there were some TV commercials touting a particular Motown (as in “Motor Town”) manufacturer of automobiles. While, most likely, other viewers were admiring the styling of the commercial, yours truly noticed the tiniest fluttering of a then-unfamiliar flag down in the corner of perhaps a frame or two of the commercial.

Flag of Detroit

Pretty isn’t it?

Turns out, this is the flag of the city of Detroit, Michigan (surprise!) and was designed in 1907 by one David E. Heineman; it wasn’t officially adopted as the city’s flag until 1948. The original design had the seal as an oval. Apparently sometime in the early 1970s, the design was redone and the seal was made into a circle. Don’t ask. Ever wanting to tinker with things, those Detroiters (Anyone know the correct demonym? Remember last post talking about that?) changed the seal again around a dozen years ago to reduce the number of colors. Again, don’t ask.

The background is what we vexillologists call “quartered”. (Pretty tricky technical term there, eh?) The sections represent the countries that controlled the city at various times. Actually, there were only three countries (France – from 1701, Britain – 1760-96 and the US), but dividing it into three sections didn’t seem to be an option. So, France is shown on the bottom left (the “lower hoist” – to us geeks) with five of their cute little fleurs-de-lis (yes, that’s correct; they’re cute). Britain gets the upper right (oops; the “upper fly”. Got it?) with three of their little lions. And the Stars and Stripes (well thirteen of each of course – for the original colonies) take over the other two quadrants (You got it: the “upper hoist” and the “lower fly”. That wasn’t so hard, was it?).

Now about that seal. Back in 1805 the entire town, as it was then, burned to the ground – save one building. (Do your own research on that.) So the woman on the left is looking at the charred rubble, pretty bummed. Under the rubble is the Latin (always has to be Latin doesn’t it – makes it classier) Speramus Meliora meaning “We hope for better things.” The woman on the right is saying, “Buck up, sis” and gesturing to the new city that will be built. Under that is the Latin Resurget Cineribus, “It will rise from the ashes.” Nice attitude.

So why is ‘strait’ in quotes in the title of this post? Please excuse the little pun. The straitsYou see, in French the words ‘Détroit’ and ‘Détroits’ mean strait or straits. (Remember, the French were the ones who established the first (European) fort there.) Check out the straights between Lake Erie, Lake St. Claire and Lake Huron. So Detroit was a pretty good name for the place. Don’t you think?

By the way, this little picture is shown on the right, or in French, á droite. Don’t confuse that with Detroit. Now you know about those tinkerers – and their flag.

Princess Grace and the Monégasque – and Poland?

Monday, January 16th, 2012

Grace KelleyA few nights ago, Oregon Public Broadcasting showed an olde (1987) video about the lovely, late Princess Grace of Monaco. Thank you, OPB. During the show the word Monégasque was mentioned – more than a few times. Well it turns out that Monégasque is the demonym or gentilic for those folks who live in Monaco; it also refers to their language, etc. (For a related issue, research the difference between the words Toponymy and Ethnonym.) Note: this is driving spell check crazy too. For your edification, there’s a lovely reference to the Monégasque language on reference.com.

Although fascinated by the language, we were of course, Dear Reader, all ready to apply it to the national flag of Monaco. So, first a little background: Grace Kelley married into the Grimaldi family. Their heraldic colors of red and white are attested as far back as 1339. The national flag was adopted on April 4th, in that palindromic year of 1881. So far, so good. They, well not Grace, of course, selected the proportions of 4:5, so, it looks like this:

Flag of Monaco

Flag of Monaco - proportions 4:5

Nice. Simple. However, on August 1st of that not quite palindromic year 1919, the Polish Parliament, of all folks, adopted the national flag of Poland.

Flag of Poland

Flag of Poland - proportions 8:5

Fairly similar, would you say? Ah, but notice the proportions: 5:8 is so different from 4:5. Right? Well, to be fair, Poland had been using those same red and white colors since the XVII-XIX centuries. Still not as long as the Monégasque, but quite a while. Yet, the location of those colors was not always fixed. That is, sometimes the red was on the top! Furthermore, sometimes the flag includes an Eagle from the state seal. (No eagle-seal animal jokes here now.) Lots of controversy about the length and color of the bird’s talons, arrangement of feathers, crown or no crown, etc. (No worries, we carry flags and patches of Poland’s flag both with and without the eagle.)

End of controversy? Oh, no, Dear Reader. On the 17th of August, 1947 (no jokes), Indonesia – yes that nation on the other side of the globe from both Monaco and Poland – decided to adopt their flag.

Flag of Indonesia

Flag of Indonesia - proportions 3:2

Now the Indonesian national flag is called “Sang Saka Merah Putih”. (Guess that’s because “Merah-Poetih” means “Red-White”. Go figure.) At least no eagles or suchlike.

Let’s all just cross our fingers that Monaco, Poland and Indonesia never go to war against each other. Field identification might be a little tricky. Not to mention that time-honored tradition of flying ones flag upside-down to indicate distress. Goodness.

All that from a public television show? My, how the mind can travel.

smALL FLAGs for Small Countries

Saturday, August 27th, 2011

Wedding BellsWhat a clever notion: a customer in the UK came up with the idea that, rather than have “name cards” identifying seating arrangements at a wedding reception, he wanted to use flags to show folks where to sit. Guests will be given a country and then they find their seat – identified by a flag of that country. What fun!

However, and here was a little rub, to mitigate or minimize any biases which guests might have, he asked us for flags for the 52 least populated countries. Well, as the old advertising jingle used to put it, “special orders don’t upset us.” display of smALL FLAGsWe went right to our old friend Wikipedia to get a list of countries showing their population; downloaded that, sorted it in inverse sequence by population and voila! We had our list. Shipping to the UK? No problem. We do it all the time.

Speaking of small county flags, please be aware that we’re now offering flags of the one which Libya used from 1951 to 1969 – and some still do. Flag of Libya - 1951-1969Just now, it’s available in 3×5′ polyester; but you can bet that if the “insurgents” have their way, it will soon be available in many other sizes as well. By the way, politics aside,  most would have to agree that, esthetically at least, this design is certainly more interesting than the one that Gaddafi introduced in 1977. Gaddafi's Libyan flag of 1977Your call. It was/is the only national flag with just one color and no design, insignia, or other details. (Oddly perhaps, we carry this design – if it could be called that – in a wide variety of sizes.)

You were further aware, of course, that Lybia is most certainly not one of those “least populated countries” mentioned above with a whopping 6,355,000 souls calling it home.

Well as long as you’ve read this far, we may as well mention yet another new flag from (sort of) that region of the world. Flag of South SudanThe newest country in the world is now considered to be South Sudan. They were admitted into the United Nations on July 14th of this year. We’re proud to now be able to offer this newest flag in a variety of sizes. However, our 4×6″ versions won’t be available until mid-September. Sigh. Your collection may have to wait just a bit longer.

Oh yes, also not one of those “least populated countries”. 8,260,490 people here. smALL planet indeed!

Alter lingua, alter persona.

Saturday, June 18th, 2011

Now we understand some of the principles of business and we understand some of the principles of the concept of Freedom of Speech, but spam … ? Whadda gonna do? Filter as much as you can and deal with the rest. Call it peculiar, but we keep separate folders for spam that sneaks through in foreign languages – it’s amusing to study. OK. It’s peculiar.

One spam got through our filters that did catch our eye; it was an “opportunity” to learn to speak English – supposedly from Cambridge (University, we assume) – and it was written all in Spanish. Well that’s a fine notion.  We all need to learn a few more languages. Seems that the Romans (who had a saying for just about everything apparently) said, “Alter lingua, alter persona.” (“Another language, another person.”) Meaning that one can’t learn a language without becoming in some sense another person; that is, to learn a language, one must also learn the history, the humor, the literature, the religion, the politics, etc. of the people who speak that language as a native tongue. More about that later, back to this spam. Included was one beautiful (to our eye) image:

Learn English language flags

Not really too colorful – mostly red, white and blue – but very “active” looking. Let’s look a little deeper. Of course there’s the largest flag of the UK, the US waving into Canada, and subtly below are (left to right) images of Northern Ireland, the Scottish Saltire, (perhaps that’s the tip of the tail of the Welsh dragon – Y Ddraig Goch) and Guernsey.

Conspicuously missing are flags of, perhaps, Australia and New Zealand, Ireland; heck, why not throw in India and a few others? Perhaps it would be to “cluttered”. There are a lot of countries that speak English as a major language. It might be an interesting exercise to design a similar graphic of a the francophone countries’ flags or (what’s the word for) Spanish language speaking country flags. Nice idea. Point being that there’s not a much better way to symbolize all those countries than with their flags. Symbols speak volumes, and flags are powerful symbols.

Back to that idea of native tongues, we’d like to give a little plug to our friends at Morsmål (that’s Norwegian for mother tongue or something like that). From their website:

Morsmål is an NGO maintaining official relations with UNESCO.
A multilingual information portal and a meeting place for bilingual researchers, teachers, parents and pupils.

Morsmål logo They’re pretty proud about the fact that they just passed the 700 mark of folks who have “liked” their Facebook page. Go on. Check ’em out. You’ll like ’em.