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Heraldry and Vexillology - What is Flag?


1. - A flag - looked at from the encyclopaedical point of view - is a piece of mono or polychromatic fabric attached to a pole. The most common shape of this fabric is a rectangle often showing various symbols. This special fabric is looked upon as a symbol of tradition, representation and national pride.

2. - From the point of view of the medieval understanding of flags (from the second half of the XII. century), a flag constitutes a symbolically simplified, coloured substitute for various coats of arms whose colours are represented on the flag’s fabric.

3. - A flag can also be viewed as a basic coloured symbol for messages of single or different organisations. It can be used to show a representative expression of ownership and for official relationships to human beings and to their surroundings. A flag may as well express feelings (of friendship, hate, reconciliation, …)

- A flag- treated in an objective way - may consist of specific kinds of fabric or other materials, in the embellished with mono or polychromatically, geometrically defined shapes and objects. As such, a flag should be attached to a mast/flag-pole by the means of a cord and it should be allowed to float in the wind.

- A flag may also be an industrially produced mass article, which obtains its symbolic role only by being exhibited representatively (being put on a mast or being carried by an individual = a colour-bearer).

- As composed textile fields of colours flags represent state symbols; symbols of countries and regions, of communities, etc., but also symbols of ecclesiastical institutions, political organisations, clubs etc.

- When being used as colour applications on a firm, mostly flat ground, flags may be used as symbols in the military and the marine, as well as the various fields concerning traffic and other areas of science or technology.
Flags may also be arranged according to their historical significance or in the way they are being used.

Unlike a banner, a flag is a manufactured product, and an as such be stored wherever it may remain clean and whole. Optional use of cases and cupboards for storage space are often considered.
According to the law all flags have to be presented in a horizontal shape.
The coloured textiles/fabrics usually used in the field of advertisement and flown on masts (similar to flags) are not considered to be flags.


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