Aug 30, 2012

Albania, Kingdom of Jerusalem

Today post is about rule of tincture, a tradition that came from heraldry but that everyone interested in flags design will need to know someday. Basically, it says that a color can't be placed over a color, and a metal can't be placed over a metal. Firstly, it's needed to know the heraldic concepts of color and metal.

Light tinctures, i.e. white and yellow, are considered metals. Darker tinctures, i.e. red, blue, green, purple and black, are called colors. Non-traditional tinctures use to be classified as colors, but some scholars defend the sky blue, buff-color and some metallic colors (e.g. iron, steel, bronze) are being metals .

The rule of tinctures is rigidly followed in United Kingdom and Anglophone countries. Nevertheless, in continental Europe, it's mostly used as a aesthetic recommendation, being exceptions more common there. I'll mention and explain two cases of broken rule, one of each case.

It's just a conjectural flag: maybe it was white over yellow instead of yellow over white, and the smaller cross could exist or not. Whatever it broke the rules of tinctures: yellow and white are both heraldic "metals". But there's some freedom in this case: the Kingdom of Jerusalem was a medieval crusader kingdom, so the combination of yellow and white was accepted just because of religious purposes (repair they're Vatican colors).

The rule is also broken in Albanian flag, but for inverse reason: it's considered, by heraldic scholars, "color" over "color". However, Eastern European tradition admit this: there's the marten and zibelline tinctures, looking exactly like red (gules) and black (sable), respectively, but treated as "furs" (a kind of heraldic texture), considered neutral to the rule.

By the way, a little explanation about Albanian flag history: the black double-head eagle over red background was present on the coat of arms of Kastriot family — George Kastriot Skanderbeg fought against Ottoman domination in XV century. In 1912, Albania gained independence from Ottomans again, and the model was remembered, and it has been used, with small changes, since then.

Did you like this post? Do you want to comment about Jerusalem or Albania flags? Have any doubt about the rule of tinctures? Leave a comment, please.

Aug 22, 2012

Greenland (Denmark)

Today's post is about a very interesting design technique, used both in flags and coat of arms: the "counterchanged" effect. What is this? It's easier explain with an example, and I chose a great and famous one: Greenland!

In this case, it's said that red and white are counterchanged. When using contrasting colors, like these, it's a dynamic way of make them become even more contrasting. A simple and original design, like this, is the reason to this beautiful flag.

And a additional detail makes it simply extraordinary: there's a good symbolism behind! At first sight, the flag resembles the sun fading on horizon and being reflected by the sea. And the flag creator admits other meanings: the white stripe for glaciers and ice cap, the red stripe for the ocean, the red semicircle to the sun, and finally the white semicircle to icebergs. Simply genial!

Extra: the Greenlandic flag was adopted in 1985, when the above flag received 14 votes. The runner-up ended with 11 votes. This is the flag that ended in second place:

It's an interesting flag, too. Greenland flag is the only national Nordic flag currently doesn't using the Nordic cross, but this second proposal uses. The color meaning is interesting: white for ice and green is canting island name: Greenland ("green land"). There're rumors, that I can't personally confirm, that while current flag is used principally by Inuit, the Danish-descendant prefer this proposed flag. If it's true, reasons are clear!

Did you like the post? Do you want to express your opinion about any of these flags? Leave a comment, please. Thank you for reading!

Aug 15, 2012

Estonia, Ukraine

Today I'll post something about flags representing landmarks, a technique that commonly generate good flags. Currently, at least three independent nations use landmark flags: Estonia, Kiribati and Ukraine. In local spheres, they're also very used. This post will be focused on Estonia and Ukraine, my favorite flags in this criteria.


The yellow and blue has been associated with Ukraine for centuries, and there's no register of what this originally represents. The current flag was adopted in 1992, after USSR broke-up, but a very similar model was used soon after World War I. In modern times, blue is associated with sky, while yellow is for wheat fields. See a typical Ukrainian landmark that explain this interpretation:


More interesting example is Estonian flag:

A historic interpretation gives an alternate explanation to the colors: blue for ancient freedom, black for lost independence and white for a brighter future. Other interpretations exist, however. And some Estonians associate it to the winter landmark in the country: blue is sky, black the tree without leaves and white the snow floor. See a truly Estonian image:

Do you liked the post? Want to show your liking for another flag with landmark? Write me a comment, please.

Aug 7, 2012


Today I'll denounce what is, for me, a historic injustice. Some people use to say "I'm lazier than the man that created Japanese flag". The Japanese flag is simple, but not silly, and I'll demonstrate it below. Now, let's see Japanese flag:

The Japanese flag consists of a red circle over a white background. The circle represents the sun, so the flag is know as Nisshōki ("sun-mark flag") or, more popularly, as Hinomaru ("sun circle" or "circle of the sun"). Why is this perfect to Japan? Because Japan = Sun. Let me explain better. In Japanese, the country is known as Nippon or Nihon, both meaning "sun's origin". The word "Japan" comes from Mandarin Cipan, that means "country of sun's origin". With translation to many languages, the country is known as "The Land of Rising Sun". Is there something better than a red circle to represent Japan? Maybe, but I don't know what.

An extra: The Japanese "Rising Sun" flag.

It's far better than Japanese national flag, almost plain. It's something like an improvement of anterior flag. But probably it'll never be adopted as national flag, and the reasons are many. It was used, until the end of World War II, as Japanese Empire war flag. So, in Japan, it's a symbol of far-right and, in neighbors countries, symbol of militarism and imperialism. An asymmetric version of this flag is still used by country's Navy. Unfortunately, the history doesn't honor the design.

I want to know your opinion about Japanese flag. Do you think it's a good flag, or that its creator is only less lazy than the previous Libyan flag's one? Give your comment.