Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Vexillological Subtlety

Three flags from three nations offer a challenge to those who are trying to master vexillology. While doing research on the coffees of Indonesia, I found a simple explanation of its flag in the CIA Factbook: "two equal horizontal bands of red (top) and white; the colors derive from the banner of the Majapahit Empire of the 13th-15th centuries; red symbolizes courage, white represents purity."

Indonesia flag from Maps of World
The article refers to two additional countries that share a similar design. The flag of the Principality of Monaco is described as: "two equal horizontal bands of red (top) and white; the colors are those of the ruling House of Grimaldi and have been in use since 1339, making the flag one of the world's oldest national banners."
Monaco flag from Maps of World
These two images, at the scale and from the same web site, can only be distinguished by the hue of red being used, though the Monaco flag is supposed to be shorter than that of Indonesia, according to the CIA.

The flag of Poland is easy to confuse with the other two, unless it is mounted properly. The CIA describes it as "two equal horizontal bands of white (top) and red; colors derive from the Polish emblem - a white eagle on a red field," without elaborating on the emblem to which reference is made.

Poland flag from Maps of World

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