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Dictionary of Vexillology: T (Trooping the Colour - Type Flag)

Last modified: 2022-09-10 by rob raeside
Keywords: vexillological terms |
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In UK usage and some others, a military ceremony at which the colour is marched past assembled troops (see also ‘colour 2)’, ‘colours 2)’, ‘dipping 1)’ and ‘pratice colours’.

[Trooping the Colour]

Please note that this ceremony began in the 17th Century, when a regiment’s colours were marched slowly past assembled troops so that they could recognize them in battle – it is now used to mark the official birthday of HM The Queen.

A flag captured in battle and displayed as a trophy – a captured flag (see also ‘stand 2)’).

[Trophy flag]
Trophy Flag Captured at Blakely, Alabama 1 April 1865 (

1) The wooden block or metal plate at the top of a flagpole (or mast) below the finial, which includes a pulley (sheaved block) or a hole for the halyard - often incorrectly used as a synonym for the ball or other finial at the top of that flagpole (see also ‘Appendix I, ‘finial’, ‘flag pole’, ‘halyard’ and ‘sheaved block’).
2) A short pole flexibly mounted on top of a mast for the flying of a flag or pennant at sea and ashore – a pigstick (see also 'masthead, at the').

See ‘bannerette’.

[trumpet banner]
Trumpet Banner of 7th Duke of Edinburgh’s Own Gurkha Rifles, UK (fotw)

A tuft of hair, feathers or other similar materials used in the same manner as a flag (see also ‘vexilloid 1)’).

Please note that the term is taken from the ancient Roman tufa which is considered to have been a helmet crest, and to have been adopted in Britain as the tuuf.


1) An Ottoman vexilloid, now obsolete, of Mongoloid/Turkic origin that symbolized civil or military authority, and consisted of a number of yak or horsetails at the top of a staff - a horsetail standard (see also horsetail’, ‘standard 5)’ and ‘vexilloid 2)’).
2) See ‘toug’.

Please note that the schellenbaum (also known as a jingling jonny) in use by German Army bands and some others, although also descended from the Ottoman horsetail standard, is a musical instrument and not a vexilloid.

Source: National Music Museum, used with permission

The term to describe two saltires, placed (usually diagonally) in the same panel – a double cross. See ‘double cross 2)'.

  double cross example double cross example
Flag of the Independent State of Jefferson 1941 (fotw); National Flag of the fictitious country Tomania from the film The Great Dictator (fotw)

The term used in Eastern European heraldry – and a direct translation of the Polish póltrzecia krzyza – that describes a Cross of Lorraine which has a third arm projecting on one side only - usually the sinister (see also ‘cross 2)’, ‘cross of Lorraine’, ‘orthodox cross’ and ‘papal cross’).

Arms - Wojaszówka, Poland Flag - Wojaszówka, Poland
Arms and Flag of Wojaszówka, Poland (fotw)

See ‘broad pennant’, ‘double-pointed’, ‘swallow-tail(ed)’, ‘swallowtail and tongue’, ‘triple-tailed 1)’, ‘triangular tailed’ and the note below.

two pointed two pointed three pointed
Customs Flag, Denmark (fotw); Naval Ensign, Poland (fotw); Flag of Zákamenné, Slovakia (fotw)

Please note (as may be seen from the references given above) that flags/pennants with two or three tails/tongues have many specific variants and it is strongly suggested that the individual entries be consulted before attempting any description.

1) A term used when the reverse of a flag differs from its obverse – but see the note below (also ‘mirror image’, ‘obverse’, ‘reverse’).
2) See ‘double-sided 1)’.

Paraguay reverse Paraguay obverse Paraguay reverse
The National Flag of Paraguay with enlarged detail of the emblems on the obverse and on the reverse (fotw & Wikipedia)

Please note with regard to 1) that this term can include those flags where most of the reverse is a mirror image of the obverse – for example those of Argentina, Egypt and Brazil – but where the detail such as lettering or a charge, is made so that it can be seen correctly on both sides.

Brazil globe Brazil globe
The Globe as it should appear on both the obverse and reverse of the National Flag of Brazil (fotw)

See ‘model flag’.

[Establishment of arms example]
Flag of Yukon Territory, Canada (Design Details Established by Type/Model Flag) (fotw)

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