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Vexilloids

Last modified: 2012-01-14 by rob raeside
Keywords: vexilloid |
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Smith, 1975, p. 30 defines a vexilloid as:

An object which functions as a flag but differs from it in some respect, usually appearance. Vexilloids are characteristic of traditional societies and often consist of a staff with and emblem, such as a carved animal, at the top."

He further refers to an illustration on p. 13 showing an animal skull tied atop a rough wooden pole, captioned: "Victory over nature and victory over fellow human beings are common themes in flags throughout the history. These prehistoric vexilloids are only earlier, less sophisticated versions of the modern flagpole topped with a golden eagle (or lion or similar beast) and of the flag bearing emblems of warfare and power."

On p. 12 is shown an other primal vexillum - a rough piece of textile dyed red (possibly in the blood of a slain enemy or animal) tied up atop a rough wooden pole.

Other vexilloids shown in his book include: the Roman signum and the Norse metal vane (p.14), the German Schellenbaum (p. 21), set of various vexilloids to which he gave not special names on p. 34: 4th c. Iran, 7th c. England, 13th c. Mongolia, 14th c. Ethiopia, 16th c. Mexico. Also on pp. 34 and 35 are shown various Egyptian vexilloids some thousands years ago. On p. 36 are shown early Chinese vexilloids looking somewhat like large fans, then again various Roman vexillliods, on p. 37 some naval vexilloids on Antique coins. On p. 38 are mentioned parasols ("umbrella") used as vexilloids in SE Asia and West Africa and again some Chinese fans. On pp. 60-61 are stories of the Labarum and Dragon Flag which are on the edge between flags and vexilloids, I guess.

Page 92 repeats the image of the "first flag" captioned: "The first flag to be used on land may well have been a strap of material dyed with the blood of an enemy or slain animal."

On p. 104 are, as example of modern vexilloids shown Nazi standards. Page. 130 shows Roman-Gallic vexilloid with a cock atop, and p. 140 an Italian one. Pp. 164-171 include several Japanese vexilloids used by samurais, and p. 178 shows Soviet metal flags sent to the outer space.

I guess that this covers the topic of vexilloids quite exhaustively. I may add that the municipal and religious gonfalons especially popular in Italy (and modern Croatia) are also and edge case between flags and vexilloids - it is the size of the textile part there that allows them to be counted as flags.
Željko Heimer, 31 January 2004


 
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