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Dictionary of Vexillology: S (Snakehead Cross - Spur Rowel)

Last modified: 2022-09-10 by rob raeside
Keywords: vexillological terms |
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A term that may be used for that variation of a cross moline where the curved pieces at the ends are each formed by the head of a snake – a cross gringolée – but see ‘cross moline’ (also ‘cross 2)’).

[Sittard, NL] [Schinnen, NL] [Munstergeleen, NL]
Former Flag of Sittard, The Netherlands (fotw); Flag of Schinnen, The Netherlands (fotw); Flag of Munstergeleen, The Netherlands (fotw)

Please note that a snakehead-cross – a cross gringolée - now appears to be largely (but not exclusively) limited to Dutch usage (as is illustrated below).

[snakehead cross]
Flag of Montfort-sur-Meu, France (fotw)

See ‘disc

Flag of Yakutia, Russian Federation (fotw)

In largely East European and West Asian usage, a stylized emblem (of varying design) that symbolizes an ancient or ancestral veneration of the sun – but see note below (also ‘emblem 1)’).

[Ingushetia] [Khakass people] [solar sign]
Flag of Ingushetia, Russia (fotw); Flag of the Khakass people (fotw); Flag of Nazranovsky District, Russia (fotw)

Please note that the solar sign is not a stylized representation of the sun itself, but refers rather to its veneration or worship – see ‘sun emblem’.

See ‘service flag 4)’.

single star service pennant two star service pennant single gold star/two blue star service pennant Canadian service pennant
Sons in Service Flags US (fotw); Canada (CS)

1) A stylized representation of the constellation Crux Australis, and used as a symbol on flags in the Southern Hemisphere – as on those of, for example, Australia, New Zealand and Samoa.
2) A colloquial name for the saltire as used by the Confederate States of America on its battle flag, second naval jack and later national flags (see also ‘battle flag 1)’ ‘stainless banner’ and ‘stars and bars’).

[Southern Crosses] [Southern Crosses] [Southern Crosses]
Civil Ensign of New Zealand (fotw); National Flag of Samoa (fotw); Second Naval Jack 1863-1865, CSA (fotw)

A diagonal stripe that runs from the lower hoist to the upper fly whose corners may (or may not) touch the corners of the flag, but whose width is contained within the length of the flag at the hoist and its width at the fly (see also ‘Appendix XI’, ‘ascending diagonal’, ‘descending diagonal’, ‘east-west diagonal’, ‘north-east diagonal’, ‘north-south diagonal’, ‘south-north diagonal’, ‘west-north diagonal’, ‘west-east diagonal’, and ‘west-south diagonal’).

Motuca, Brazil Bestin, Czechia
Flag of Motuca, Brazil (fotw); Flag of Běštín, Czechia (fotw)

Please note that this term, whilst an extension of those existing and established, has been introduced by the editors.

A diagonal stripe that runs from the lower hoist to the upper fly whose corners may or may not touch the corners of the flag but whose width is entirely contained within the length of the flag – an enhanced bend sinister - see ‘bend’ and ‘Appendix IX’ ‘ascending diagonal’, ‘descending diagonal’, ‘east-west diagonal’, ‘north-east diagonal’, ‘north-south diagonal’, ‘south-east diagonal’, ‘west-east diagonal’, ‘west-north diagonal’, and ‘west-south diagonal’).

Congo Amhara, Ethiopia
National Flag of The Congo (fotw); Flag of Amhara, Ethiopia (fotw)

1) Flags sold as a memento of those locales which do have an official design (see also ‘sub-national flag’).
2) A generic term for flags or pennants exchanged during sporting matches by the captains of the contending teams – a flag exchange (see also 'club pennant', ‘sports flag 1)’ and ‘sports flag 2)’).
3) Burgees presented to a club by visiting yachts, or collected by such visitors for display at their home port (see also ‘burgee 1)’ and ‘club pennant’).
4) See ‘brag flags’.
5) See ‘commemorative flag’.
6) Small flags or pennants sold (or issued) to school children and/or street-lining spectators for the purpose of waving at visiting dignitaries - usually in honour of a specific event (see also 'handwaver').

souvenir flag souvenir flag souvenir flag
Souvenir Flag of the Distrito Federal, Mexico (fotw); Flag of Bradford City FC, UK (fotw); Burgee of the Aeolian Yacht Club, US (fotw)

Please note however, it is strongly suggested that the types of flag given in 2) above are better defined by their type and/or circumstances of presentation, and that the more precise terms (as listed separately herein) are to be preferred in description.

1) In British Army usage the ceremonial flag (equivalent to a military colour or guidon) of the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst (see also ‘banner 6)’, ‘colour 2)’, ‘colours 2)’ and ‘guidon 2)’).
2) In Australian military usage the term given to a special ceremonial flag presented to a military organization by Her Majesty The Queen in place of or in addition to colours (see also ‘banner 6)’, ‘colour 2)’ and ‘colours 2)’).

See ‘colours 2)’.

[Sovereign's colour] [Sovereign's colour]
King’s Colour Infantry of the Royal Guard 1704, Spain (fotw); Queen’s Colour of the Chasseurs Isabel II c1840, Spain (fotw)

1) Specifically in British military usage, that flag carried as a special mark of distinction by the Life Guards and the Blues and Royals - the Household Cavalry (see also ‘union standard’ and ‘standard 2)’).
2) Generically see ‘royal standard 1)’.

[Sovereign standard]
Sovereign's Standard of the Blues and Royals, UK (Graham Bartram)

The alternative terms sometimes used to describe a round-bottomed shield – a Spanish or Spanish-shaped shield (see also ‘French shield’, ‘Gothic shield’ with its following note, ‘Italian shield’, ‘rectangular shield’, ‘round-bottomed shield 2)’ ‘semi-circular shield’, ‘shield 2)’ and ‘triarched triangular shield’).

Arms of Beretinec, Croatia (fotw); National/State Flag of Spain (fotw); Arms of Bartoszyce, Poland (fotw)

The alternative terms sometimes used for a horizontal triband, either plain or defaced, with vertical proportions of 1-2-1 – a Spanish triband (see also ‘defaced 1)’, ‘internal proportions’, ‘plain 2)’, ‘triband 1)’ and ‘unequal triband’).

Spain French Polynesia Lebanon
Civil Flag/Ensign of Spain (fotw); Flag of French Polynesia (fotw); National Flag of Lebanon (fotw)

1) See 'battle efficiency pennant'.

special battle efficiency pennant
Special Battle Efficiency Pennant, USN (fotw)

1) The detailed description, either by diagram or in writing, of how the design of a flag is constructed see ‘specification sheet’ below (also ‘dimensions’, ‘proportions’ and ‘type flag’).
2) The act of drawing up such design details.

The detailed visual presentation of how the design of a flag is constructed, usually showing construction lines and figures and often including the source or sources of any such information – a construction sheet (see also ‘de jure’, ‘dimensions’, ‘flag law’, ‘proportions’, ‘specification’ above and ‘type flag’).

specification sheet
Specification sheet for the National Flag of Bahrain (fotw)

Alternative terms for the image of a flag, or details of a flag’s design/use, for which no exact details are known or can be confirmed – a speculative design or speculation - but see ‘reconstruction’.

speculative flag speculative flag
Speculative Flag of Lomita, US (fotw); Speculative Banner of Arms of Għawdex, Malta (fotw) 

The study of flags as defined in ‘speculative flag’ above.

speculative flag
Speculative image of a Naval Ensign c1620, England (fotw)

A term for the practice, now increasingly (but not entirely) obsolete, of decorating a flag pole or the staff of a parade flag or military colour with a spiral decoration, usually in the national or livery colours and often accompanied by a cravat (see also ‘colour 2)’, ‘colour 3)’, ‘cravat 1)’, ‘livery colours’ and ‘parade flag’).

[example of a spiral decoration] [example of a spiral decoration]
State Flag of San Marino (fotw & CS); National Flag of Brazil on a Military Flagpole (fotw & CS)

1) A naval term for the joint in two pieces of line, halyard or cable, and created by weaving the strands into each other (see also ‘eye splice’).
2) (v) The act of creating a joint as detailed above.

An Anglicization of the Scandinavian terms splitflag or splittflag – see ‘splitflag’.

[Denmark naval/state flag - double pointed] 
Flag of the Regent 1941 – 1944, Iceland (fotw)

1) A term that may be officially used to describe the shape of the Danish state flag/naval ensign and of its variants (see also ‘dannebrog’, ‘double-pointed’ and ‘Scandinavian cross’).
2) A term that may also be used in other Scandinavian countries (particularly Norway with the alternative spelling given above) in place of ‘double pointed’, ‘swallow-tail(ed)’ or ‘swallow tail and tongue’.

[Denmark naval/state flag - double pointed] [Denmark naval/state flag - double pointed] [Denmark naval/state flag - double pointed]
The State Flag/Naval Ensign of Denmark (fotw); Flag of Danish railways (fotw); State/War Flag of Norway (fotw)

See ‘banner 3)’.

See ‘sports flag 2)’.

[Northern Ireland Football Supporters, UK]
Northern Ireland Football Supporters, UK (fotw)

1) A flag – often the appropriate national or provincial flag – bearing (or defaced with) the name of a sporting club or related slogan – but see the note below (also ‘car flag 2)’, ‘defaced’ and ‘souvenir flag 1)’).
2) A flag or pennant, usually in the club or school colours, bearing an emblem (and often associated lettering) that represents a sporting club or school team  – a sport supporter's or supporters flag/pennant or a fan's flag/pennant (see also ‘car flag 2)’, ‘institutional flags/pennants’ and ‘souvenir flag’).
3) The flag of a national or international sporting organization (see also ‘international flag(s) 2)’).
4) One of a varied number of flags that are used to regulate or to assist in running a sporting activity – for example, the chequered flag in motor racing.

[Liverpool Football Club] [Football Federation of Chile ] [Football Association Norway]
Fan's Flag Liverpool Football Club, UK (CS); Football Federation of Chile (fotw); Football Association of Norway (fotw)

Please note with regard to 1) that in some countries the practice of defacing a national or sub-national flag as described above is either discouraged or is illegal, but continues to be employed by sports fans regardless.

See 'fictitious flag'.

[fictitious flag]
Spurious Flag of French Morocco from the film Casablanca (fotw)

In heraldry see ‘rowel’.

[Spur rowel] [Spur rowel]
Example: Flag and Arms of Severin, Croatia (fotw)

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