Vexillological symbol

Vexillological symbols are used by vexillologists to indicate certain characteristics of national flags, such as where they are used, who uses them, and what they look like. The set of symbols described in this article are known as international flag identification symbols (IFIS), which were devised by Whitney Smith.

National flag variants by useEdit

Some countries use a single flag design to serve as the national flag in all contexts of use; others use multiple flags that serve as the national flag, depending on context (i.e., who is flying the national flag and where). The six basic contexts of use (and potential variants of a national flag) are:

  Civil flag – Flown by citizens on land.
  State flag – Flown on public buildings.
  War flag – Flown on military buildings.
  Civil ensign – Flown on private vessels (fishing craft, cruise ships, yachts, etc.).
  State ensign – Flown on unarmed government vessels.
  Naval ensign – Flown on warships.

In practice, a single design may be associated with multiple such usages; for example, a single design may serve a dual role as   war flag and ensign. Even with such combinations, this framework is not complete: some countries define designs for usage contexts not expressible in this scheme such as air force ensigns (distinct from war flags or war ensigns, flown as the national flag at air bases; for example, see Royal Air Force Ensign) and civil air ensigns.

CombinationsEdit

Symbol Meaning Symbol Meaning
  Civil flag   National flag
  State flag   National ensign
  War flag   State and war flag, war ensign
  Civil ensign   State flag, civil and war ensign
  State ensign   Civil and state flags and ensigns
  War ensign   State and war flags and ensigns
  Civil and state flag   National flag, civil ensign
  State and war flag   National flag, state ensign
  Civil and state ensign   National flag, civil and state ensign
  State and war ensign   National flag, state and war ensign
  Civil flag and ensign   State and war flag, national ensign
  State flag and ensign   Civil and state flag, national ensign
  War flag and ensign   National flag and ensign
  Civil and war ensign   Civil flag, war ensign
  Civil flag, state ensign   Civil flag, state and war ensign
  Civil flag, civil and war ensign   Civil flag, civil and state ensign
  Civil flag, national ensign   Civil and war flag
  Civil and war flag, war ensign   Civil and war flag, state ensign
  Civil and war flag, state and war ensign   Civil and war flag, civil ensign
  Civil and war flags and ensigns   Civil and war flag, civil and state ensign
  Civil and war flag, national ensign   Civil and state flag, war ensign
  Civil and state flag, state ensign   Civil and state flag, state and war ensign
  Civil and state flag, civil ensign   Civil and state flag, civil and war ensign
  State flag, war ensign   State flag, state and war ensign
  State flag, civil ensign   State flag, state and civil ensign
  State flag, national ensign   State flag and ensign, war flag
  State and war flag, civil ensign   State and war flag, civil and war ensign
  State and war flag, civil and state ensign   War flag, state ensign
  War flag, state and war ensign   War flag, civil ensign
  War flag, civil and war ensign   War flag, civil and state ensign
  War flag, national ensign   National flag, war ensign
  National flag, civil and war ensign   Other

Other symbolsEdit

Other symbols are used to describe how a flag looks, such as whether it has a different design on each side, or if it is hung vertically, etc. These are the symbols in general use:

  •   Normal or de jure version of flag, or obverse side
  •   Design was proposed in the past, but never officially adopted
  •   Design is a reconstruction, based on past observations
  •   Reverse side of flag
  •   Design is an acceptable variant
  •   Alternative version of flag
  •   De facto version of flag
  •   Flag has different designs on its obverse side and its reverse side
  •   Obverse side meant to be hoisted with pole to the observer's right
  •   Design officially authorized to represent nation by government of that nation
  •   Design used in the past, but now abandoned (this symbol is not part of Smith's original set)
  •   Reverse side is mirror image of obverse side
  •   Reverse side is congruent to the obverse side
  •   Information on reverse side is not available
  •   Flag can be hung vertically by hoisting on a normal pole, then turning the pole 90°
  •   Flag can be hung vertically by rotating the design first
  •   Vertical hoist method of flag is unknown
  •   Design has no element which can be rotated
  •   Flags can only be hoisted vertically
  •   Flag is not authorized to represent the group or country

In UnicodeEdit

In April 2017, a preliminary proposal to encode vexillology symbols was submitted to the Unicode Consortium.[1]

LiteratureEdit

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit