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Dictionary of Vexillology: S (Sub-national Flag - Supranational Flag)

Last modified: 2022-11-19 by rob raeside
Keywords: vexillological terms |
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A generic term for the flag of any territorial division within a sovereign or independent country or within a federated state, that is subordinate to the national flag of that country or federated state – a constituent state, province, county, municipality or similar (see also ‘civic flag’, ‘cantonal flag’, ‘national flag’, ‘flag of the state of’ and ‘tribal flag’).

sub-national flag sub-national flag sub-national flag
Flag of the State of Acre, Brazil; County Flag of Huntingdonshire, UK; Municipal Flag of Góra Świętej Małgorzaty, Poland (fotw)

a) The flags of the constituent parts of the UK – those of England, Scotland and Wales – although subordinate to the Union Flag are also national flags under the law. Similar situations may, however, exist in other countries, and the applicable country's laws should be consulted to determine the status of such flags (see also ‘union jack’).
b) In the sub-divisions of some countries – such as the Länder of Germany or provinces of Spain – there are variants of the relevant flags for civil and official use – see ‘civil flag’ and ‘official flag 2)’ (also ‘ceremonial flag 1)’ and 'state service flag').

Any one of three triangular pennants used in the International Code of Signal Flags (or any one of four in the NATO Code of Signals) to replace the relevant flag or numeral pennant when that letter or number is to be repeated – thus only one set of signal flags need be carried aboard ship – a repeater or repeater pennant - see ‘international code of signal flags’ (also ‘absence pennant’, ‘numeral pennant’ and ‘signal flag’).

[substitute signal flag] [substitute signal flag] [substitute signal flag] [substitute signal flag]
First Substitute to the Third Substitute, ICS, together with a Fourth Substitute making up those in the NATO Signal Code (fotw)

Please note that in British RN usage a substitute or repeater was first introduced in Howe’s Code of 1790.

[substitute signal flag] [substitute signal flag] [substitute signal flag]
Substitutes in RN Usage 1790–1799 and 1799–1803 (CS), and 1803-1810 (fotw)

Alternative heraldic terms for reversed - see ‘reversed 2)’.

[subverted example]  [subverted example] [subverted example]
Example; Flag and Arms of Jevenstedt, Germany (fotw & Wikipedia)

1) The ensign, jack and masthead pennant of a commissioned warship (see ‘ensign’, ‘jack’ and ‘masthead pennant 1)’).
2) The phrases that may also be used to describe any group of flags that are customarily flown together.

[suit of flags]
Stealth Warship of the Royal Norwegian Navy wearing a Suit of Flags

1) In vexillology see ‘disc’, ‘star 1)’ with its following note and ‘sun emblem’ (also ‘sunburst’)
2) In heraldry see ‘sun-in-splendour’.

sun sun sun
Imperial Standard 1876, Japan (fotw); Flag of Sierre, Switzerland (fotw); Proposal for the National Flag of Macedonia 1992 (fotw)  

The alternative heraldic terms for a sun that usually (but not exclusively) has alternating straight and wavy rays, and which often (although not invariably) shows a face – but see ‘active and inactive’, ‘sun emblem’ and ‘sunburst’ (also ‘mullet’).

Sun in splendour Sun in splendour Sun in splendour
Flag of Ohnišov, Czechia (fotw); Flag of Sierre, Switzerland (fotw); Flag of Kolobrzeg, Poland (fotw)

The term used when a (usually but not invariably) rising sun is shown complete with its rays – but see ‘radiating 1)’, ‘sun emblem’ and ‘sun in splendour’ (also ‘active’, ‘active and inactive’, ‘inactive’ and ‘rising 2)’).

sunburst sunburst Commander, Pakistan Lebowa Homeland, South Africa 1972 – 1994
Flag of Yelkhotovskoe, Russia (fotw); Flag of Lorient, France (fotw); Flag of Lebowa Homeland, South Africa 1972 – 1994 (fotw)

The alternative terms for that variation of a Celtic cross which is now considered a symbol of neo-paganism, but which has been, or is being used by Nazi and neo-Nazi movements in Europe, and the USA – a wheel cross or sun wheel cross – see ‘Celtic cross’, (also ‘arrow cross’ and ‘swastika’).

New Ku Klux Klan
Flag of the Nordiska Rikspartiet, Sweden (fotw); A Flag of the Ku Klux Klan, USA (fotw)

Please note that in heraldic practice this type would be called a “cross annuletty” - see ‘annulet’ .

See ‘disc’.

Aboriginal Flag, Australia
Aboriginal Flag, Australia (fotw)

The term that may be used for a representation of the sun which is stylized rather than pictorial, as on the examples shown below – but see ‘disk’, ‘solar sign’ with its following note and ‘sunburst’ (also ‘active’, ‘active and inactive’, ‘beam(s) 1)’, ‘inactive’, ‘rays 1)’ and ‘sun-in-splendour’).

New Mexico Macedonia 1992 – 1995 Philippines
Flag of New Mexico, US (fotw); National Flag of Macedonia, 1992 – 95 (fotw); National Flag of the Philippines (fotw)

A term used in the British Royal Navy and some others, to describe an ensign larger than the normal daily size that is flown on ships and at naval establishments on Sundays and/or days of national celebration – a ceremonial ensign or flag (see also ‘ceremonial ensign’ and ‘holiday colours’).

RCN Sunday Ensign
Sunday Ensign worn aboard a Ship of the RCN, 2014 (official website)

Please note that it this is not to be confused with a flag of ceremony (see also 'indoor flag’ and 'garrison flag').

The ceremony of lowering the ensign and jack particularly (but not exclusively) aboard a warship or naval shore establishment at the local time of sunset or at a specified time at the end of a working day - conducting or making sunset or evening colours (see also ‘colours 5)’ and ‘retreat ceremony’).

[South African ensign] [South African ensign]
Naval Ensign, UK (fotw); Naval Ensign, South Africa 1952 – 1981 (fotw)

1) In vexillology the alternative terms used when one charge is placed in front of or over another.
2) In heraldry phrases sometimes used in place of the correct English heraldic term ‘surmounted by’ - see ‘surmounted by’.

Oklahoma superimposed
Flag of Oklahoma, US (fotw); Flag of Šibenik-Knin, Croatia (fotw)

1) See ‘sports flag 2)’.
2) See ‘political flag’.

Croatian supporter's flag  Solidarity supporter's flag
A Football Supporters Flag, Croatia (fotw); Flag of the Polish Independence Movement Solidarity (fotw)

Human, mythological or animal figures traditionally placed either side of a shield in a set of armorial bearings - see also Appendix IV (also ‘armorial bearings’, ‘coat of arms’, ‘griffin’ and ‘heraldic beasts’).

Jamaica arms Pennsylvania arms Pennsylvania arms
National Arms of Jamaica (fotw); National Arms of Chile (fotw); Arms of the State of Pennsylvania, US (fotw)

The term for a historical flag that is (or may be) actually erroneous, but which is accepted as factual because of repeated usage – a mythical flag (see also ‘attributed flag’, ‘mythical flag’, ‘putative flag’ and ‘reconstruction’).

suppositious Spanish flag   
A Suppositious Spanish Naval Ensign of the 1785 Pattern (fotw)

The flag of an organization, some aspects of whose authority and/or influence transcend national sovereignty, as in for example, that of the United Nations or European Union (but see also ‘international flag’, ‘Geneva Convention flag’, ‘patchwork flag 1)’ and ‘safe conduct flag’.

supranational flag supranational flag supranational flag
Flag of The United Nations (fotw); Flag of The Commonwealth of Nations (fotw); Flag of The World Bank (fotw)

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