May 30, 2014

New Russia / Novorossiya, Russia (naval jack)

A new unrecognized nation, Novorossiya (literally, "New Russia"), appeared on Ukraine, claiming territories from Donetsk and Lugansk oblasts. According to current reports, it's unlikely to exist an official flag, but interesting proposals appeared on internet. I'll talk about two.

The first is from somebody nicknamed "arcktick". The photographs skillfully edited on Photoshop may have confused distracted Western sources, that often record them as widely used flags.

According to artist's page, the colors were chosen due to their wide use on Ukrainian oblast flags. Moreover, the flag can be obtained from combinations of Ukrainian and imperial and current Russian flags, as you can see below:

The second is the flag of New Russia Party, a Russophile Ukrainian flag behing the Novorossiya idea. Its flag, backed by many photographs, consists only of the white-blue-red of current Russian flag.

I've saw many Americans noticing the similarity between the flag above and the contemporary Confederate flag, but its most probable origin can be other: the Russian naval jack, below.

This flag consists of the union of St. George's and St. Andrew's cross, like the Great Britain flag, but on reverse order of colors. The naval jack was part of a set of flags designed by czar Peter I the Great himself. At the time, Peter I travelled to many European states, with the goal of forming an anti-Ottoman alliance (he failed) and modernizing Russia, and, on his stay on England, the Union ensign may have inspired him to create the Russian own jack.

But the flag, anyway, has a strong significance to Russia: St. Andrew, having preached along the Black Sea and region, is Russia's patron saint (curiously, Ukraine's, too), and St. George have been Moscow's city patron saint for centuries. The two saints also names important Russian military orders.

Comments (critiques, suggestions, corrections, additional info) is welcome.

May 19, 2014

Book Review: Flags Through the Ages and Across the World (Whitney Smith)

I've recently acquired the monumental Flags Through the Ages and Across the World (1975), by Whitney Smith, Ph.D. considered the founder of the "vexillology" (by the way, this word was created by him), the study of flags. It has more than 350 pages, 2257 artwork pieces made exclusively to the book, , featuring the masterpieces by Franz Coray, and many selected deluxe illustrations and photographs.

It's certainly among the best vexillology books ever written, and, although out-of-date and with minor errors, it's worth any money you can invest on it. The books excels both as a guide to vexillology and as a reference book.

This book is divided in some sections, and I'll describe them one by one.

Introduction (pages 7-31). Contains a brief introduction to the vexillology, and a very complete glossary of terms related to flags and heraldry.

Flags Through the Ages (pages 32-203). For its historiographic valor, the highlight of the book. This section tells the history of the flags since its ancestors ("vexilloids") from five millenia ago until the current usage, including sub-sections related to some historically relevant flags (like the standards of Charlemagne and Joan of Arc), the evolution of flag etiquette, the usage in many contexts (religious, military, naval, etc.) and timelines to some of most famous national flags.

Flags Accross the World (pages 204-303). Describes and explains the flags and coats of arms of all independent nations (and some subnational entities, when relevant) at the time of book conclusion. In the course of time, many of them became obsolete, but this section is yet a relevant text for reference. The section contains appendixes about international flags (like the United Nations and Red Cross) and flags of some ethnic and cultural minorities.

Symbols (pages 304-348). In a very original and intuitive layout, the section cites many flags with common symbols (geometric shapes, animals, plants, etc.) and patterns (the crescent and star, for example).