Last modified: 2008-07-26 by dov gutterman
Keywords: istria | zupanija | croatia | labin | vodnjan | partisans | dalmatia | goat | horn | crown | olive | oak | trieste |
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image by Mello Luchtenberg, 13 August 2002
The County of Istria is on the west of Croatia, on the
penisula on the Adriatic coast of the same name. In Istria there
is the largest concentration of Italians living in Croatia, so
the Italian is one of the official languages there. The
traditional Istrian coat of arms, that Istria was granted as
separate land in Habsburg monarchy - the golden goat with red
horns and hoofs, is adopted as the modern arms, too. In the crown
there are the branches of olive and oak. The vertical version
(called "stijeg" - banner - in the Odluka)
bears the name of the county in both languages.
I found an article about Coat of Arms and flag of Istria in
newspapers today. It gives also some insight to some other county
Coat of Arms and flags of Croatia. My translation.
Hrvatski obzor, no. 184, Zagreb, 17-OCT-1998 (p. 20): Istria - republic, kingdom or earldom *)
Several days ago the Ministry of Administration again denyed approval to the coat of arms and the flag of the County of Istria, whose designs were proposed already in 1994. Analysing those symbols, the Ministry rejected in these proposals some elements unheraldic, and disputed the crown above the county coat of arms. Istrian HDZ **) already protested that "proposed design of the coat of arms equalize the rank of what that coat of arms represents with the rank of the coat of arms of the Republic of
Croatia. With this IDS ***) wants to put Istria in the level of a republic, kingdom or earldom".
On the other hand, IDS members claim that some other counties also do not have their oats of arms approved (Sibenik- Knin, Sisak-Moslavina, Krapina-Zagorje), exactly due to the disputed crowns, and they deem HDZ qualifications as "sick constructions".
In any case, there is still no coat of arms, and as it has started, it should not be expected soon.
*) county would be better translation of "grofovija" from "grof" - a count, but doesn't fit nicely due to other meaning of the English word county. Hope that earldom is acceptable.
**) Croatian Democratic Union, Tudjman's party, in oposition in the county assembly.
***) Istrain Democratic Assembly, the ruling party in county assembly
Istrian Coat of Arms and flag are adopted in the county assembly on 03-OCT-1994. Source: "Odluka o grbu, zastavi i imenu Zupanije Istarske" (Deceision on the coat of arms, the flag and the name of the County of Istria), "Sluzbene novine Zupanije Istarske" (Official gazette of the County of Istria), nr. 005/95, 07-AUG-1995. (see <www.istra-1.com/novine> ). Coat of Arms is "azure, on a triple hill vert a goat or horned and hoofed gules" crowned with a crown or with olive and oak leaves proper. The flag is light blue with the Coat of Arms in the middle, and "banner" is the same with the name of the county in Croatian and Italian on it (no colour or position of text specified, also not specified the size of Coat of Arms in the flag).
So, we are not talking about a proposal, but adopted design. However, to be valid, the design must be approved by the Ministry, which obviously rejected it.
I might add, that I would have other reason to reject the flag, based on the law on the symbols of local units of government and self-government - the law requires the county flag to be of two colours, with Coat of Arms in the middle or towards the hoist, and this flag is monocoloured!
eljko Heimer , 21 October 1998
The curent county flag of the Istrian county (light boue with
coat of arms) is not easy to find . It is not official flag
anyway, since it is not (yet?) approved by central government of
Only other flag of Istria that I am aware of is the tricolor of Austria-Hungarian time of yellow over red over blue, with or withou the coat of arms. But, I do not think that anyone use such flag nowdays.
eljko Heimer, 4 Febuary 2000
Courrier International #499 (29 May 2000) gives a short chronology of Istria:
XIth century: under Venetian domination
1797: given to Austria by the treaty of Campoformio
1805: given to Napoleonian French Empire by the treaty of Presburg and incorporated into the Illyrian Provinces
1815: given back to Austria by the Vienna Congress, later in the XIXth century revendicated as "provinzia irredenta" by Italy
1919: divided between Yugoslavia and Italy
1920: annexed by Italy
1945: given to Yugoslavia, except Trieste
1975: definitive border between Yugoslavia and Italy officialized by the treaty of Osimo.
Finally divided between Slovenia and Croatia (main part) after the breakdown of Yugoslavia.
Ivan Sache, 30 May 2000
The division of Istria between Slovenia and Croatia happened long before the breakdown of Yugoslavia, namely in 1954, when the borders of the two Peoples' Republics were made. Maybe a better cronology after WWII would be :
1945: liberated by Allies and imidiately divided into Zone A
(Trieste and neaghbourhood) western Allies control, and Zone B
uder Yugoslav military control.
1954: the agrement was made and Zone A was given to Italy, while Zone B and with some minor border corrections, was given tzo Yugoslavia. Northern part of the Zone B became Slovenian, and most of Istria Croatian.
1975: the final agreement between Italy and Yugoslavia by Osimo treaty regarding the borders in the region.
1991: breakdown of Yugoslavia, smaller northern part remains in Slovenia and most of Istria in Croatia, following the previous borders Since, Slovenia and Croatia have not reached agreement on some minor points of the border in istria, the most important being the border,
on sea in Piran bay and the land border imidiatly on the coast.
1993: Istrian county was established in Croatia.
eljko Heimer, 31 May 2000
Contacting the County asembly I was informed briefly that the
coat of arms and the flag are not yet approved by the Ministry,
and are therefore still unofficial (and rarely used, if ever
officially). Adopted originally 03. 10. 1993. and changed in
details several times afterwards, last change 01. 04. 1999.
eljko Heimer, 28 December 2000
Daily newspapers from Zagreb, Vecernji list, of 19 September
2001 issued a short article on the state of the symbols of Istran
County. As you may remember, the County of Istria still does not
have adopted and approved CoA and flag. There is no hint in the
article why it was issued right now in particular. Anyway, here
is my translation:
"Goat in the Coat of Arms shall not have Udders
PULA - It is now six years that the County of Istria is trying to reslove the question of its coat of arms and its flag featuring a goat. In an interview with teh chief of the County division for local administration and areal self-government Mr. Marino Folo, we learned that the design is being coordinated with the Opinion-giving commision in the process of approval of the coat of arms and flag of a unit of local self-govrnment in the Ministry of Administration and Justice. In the commision are Maja Bejdic and the chif of the Croatian State Archives prof. Zdravko Tisljer. Marino folo says that the new design is very much like the previous, only with thinner border, a shaddow on the goat's tail is smaller, there are no udders and some more minor differences." (sb, Sasa Miljevic)
Attached to the text is a picture, probably a leaf from the proposal. The diferences from previous proposales, at least those that we were able to see are more then minor - there are no hills on which the goat is standing, the goat is made much more bold, and most important - there is no crown above the shield.
The text does not mention the flag, but cetainly the design of the Coat of Arms is going to influence the flag. The flag is blue with the coat of arms in the middle, but also it should be added some features in some other colour - if I understood rightly, the currently considered proposal is to add white "Israeli" stripes (as was done with two other maritime counties earlier). Which design of the flag field shall be adopted is far from clear to me.
eljko Heimer, 23 September 2001
Finally, Istrian county has to get their official symbols.
According to Croatian daily newspaper Novi list on December 19,
2001, county's magistrate approved yesterday the proposal and
sent it to county's assembly approval. This final proposal is
made according Regulation about the Procedure of Giving an
Approval of Coat-of-Arms and Flag of Local Bodies issued by the
Ministry of Administration in 1998. This regulation requires
bicolour flag for county's flag and it was for a long time a
dispute between Istria and Ministry. Local authorities adopted
1994 a monocoloured light blue flag that was never approved by
Ministry. The coat-of-arms on this final proposal originally was
pictured in K. Lind's book Stadte-Wappen von Österreich-Ungarn,
issued in Vienna 1885.
Janko Ehrlich-Zdvorak, 19 December 2001
There is a PDF version of the news article which Janko
Ehrlich-Zdvorak refered to on <www.vjesnik.com>.
There isn't much news in the article - Janko reported all
relevant, but the original artwork images might be interesting to
those who are into such things. These are also in colour, while I
am not sure that Vjesnik on paper is so. The official gazette of
the county still has no word about the new symbols (at least I
haven't found it). The site of the official gazette is on <www.istra.com/novine>
with last issue of 2 July 2002. Somewhat odd - it's been more
then half a year since and eight issues of the gazette... Maybe
they wait for the approval by the Ministry?
eljko Heimer, 12 August 2002
I heard on the radio news today that Istria County flag was
finally for the first time publicly hoisted. The design of the
flag was adopted last year after a longish discussion, and today
was held the hoisting ceremony. I have found no reference to that
in the newspapers yet.
eljko Heimer, 31 March 2003
I managed to find document on the first official hoisting of
the Istrian County flag. It is in 01.04.2003 issue of the Istrian
local newspapers in Italian, available on line at <www.edit.hr>.
Since recently the new Coat-of-Arms is available on the County
iofficial pages at <www.istra-istria.hr>
(Though I believe that it might be actually an image that is from
FOTW!?). The decision on the new simbols is issued in official
gazette available at <www.istra.com>.
eljko Heimer, 5 April 2003
The Istria County issued several decisions adding
prescriptions to the previous decision on the flag and the
Coat-of-Arms, however, none of them does not chage the design of
the symbols: Odluka o mjerilima i postupku za davanje odobrenja u
svrhu izrade, umnoavanja i komercijalne distribucije grba i
zastave Istarske upanije, 11.12.2002, SNI, br.
001/03, 17.02.2003. Izmejna i dopuna Statutarne odluke o grbu i
zastavi Istarske upanije te nacinu i zatiti njihove
uporabe, 18.10.2004, SNI, br 012/04, 25.10.2004. They
detail the manners and conditions to grant the commercial use of
the symbols and define in further details the penal decisions.
eljko Heimer, 30 October 2005
On 13 July 2006 the Croatian Sabor adopted a new law on local
subdivision to replace the previous one from 1997 (amended 15
times since then until 2003). The new law is published in the official
gazette: Zakon o podrucjima upanija, gradova i opcina u
Republici Hrvatskoj, 13.07.2006, Narodne novine, 86/2006,
28.07.2006.The law was promulgated on 19 July by presidential
decree and it became valid on the day of its issue in the gazette
The listing in the law now includes double Croatian-Italian names where the Italian is official. New communities are Funtana (seceeded from Vrsar), Tar - Vabriga (seceeded from Poreè).
eljko Heimer, 12 November 2006
image by Mello Luchtenberg, 13 August 2002
image by eljko Heimer
image by eljko Heimer
image by eljko Heimer
image by Dirk Schonberger, 4 March 2001
"Nations Without States" includes an entry on Istria
and mentions a flag described as "the Istrian national flag,
the traditional flag of the region, and the flag of the national
movement". It is a horizontal tricolor of red, yellow and
Ned Smith, 3 March 2001
The flag of RYB is actuall the "landesfarben" of
Istrian Markgraviate within Habsburg Empire, though some sources
(e.g. Mayers lexicon) give the order of colours as YRB. These
colours originate, as usual for landesfarben, from the coat of
arms (golden goat with red horns and hoof on blue shield). For
what I know these landesfarben has not been much used in Austia-
Hungary, and certainly not afterwards. Even if today the Istrian
regionalst feeling is politically infloencial, and certainly the
coat of arms is not forgotten (it is even included in Croatian
CoA) the tricolour flag seems not to be used at all, unless it is
used in Italy by some groups I am not avare of. Also, since the
neighbiouring city Rijeka/Fiume used
similar flag - BRY, the confusion in the order of stripes might
have been made.
eljko Heimer, 3 March 2001
You show the istria historical flag with 3 horizontal stripes:
red/yellow/blue. while from a book I have the
colours as yellow/red/blue.
The book is: "Die see-flaggen, national und provinzial fahnen" by Friedrich Heyer von Rosenfeld (Wien 1883).
Also the book: "O-H in wort und bild", it is written that the landesfarben is gelb/rot/blau.
Giampaolo Lonzar, 5 May 2004
The landesfarben of the "lesser" Austrian crownlands
are notoriously reinterpreted in every book issues, and I think
that it would be hard to find two contemporary books that would
have matching all the crownlands. It seems that each of the
editors was "reading" them from the coats of arms as
good as he could and hardly ever checked against sources.
You give two examples, and as you could have noticed above that I have mentioned that Mayers Konversations-Lexicon, Leipzig u. Wien 1897 also gives YRB (=yellow-red-blue).
The "Austria oder Oesterreichischer Universal-Kalender für das Schaltjahr 1844" [ska44] gives it as BYR.
The Stroehl's "Oesterreichisch-Ungarische Wappenrolle" 1895 [stl95] showes it as RYB (on table 20, under figure 28).
The Grenser's 1881 "Die National- und Landesfarben von 150 Staaten der Erde" [gns81] showes the boclour only BY.
The Rosenfeld's see-Flaggen 1883 [ros83] has it YRB. The Ruhl's 1930 [rus30] has YRB.
So, go figure... Anway, I am sure that the Istrian parliament that was seated in Porec (Parenzio) might have proclaimed at one time or an other the "true" order of colours, unfortunately I have no data on that. In any case, the traditional austrian landesfarben are heraldical colours, and are derived from the coat of arms depending on the heraldical principles one is using - some heraldists think that the colour of the charge (yellwo in this case) should go over the main field colour (blue) while other authotrities claim the oposite. The secondary charge colour is set under the main charge colour it seems by all authorities, however, some reverse them to maintain the heraldical principle of not mathcing metals and colour to each other. Counting all this together, one may apparently set the three involved colours any way he wants, and the books seem to do just so. I believe that modern references agree more or less that the YRB is the "ture" version, but I am not sure why exactly (maybe they do have access to the parliamentary decision on that).
eljko Heimer, 5 May 2004
image by Jorge Candeias
According to M. Corbic, the communist partisans in
Venetia-Julia, Dalmatia and Istria used italian flag with red
star. The Italian people is represented in the Congress of the
nationalities celebrated in Belgrad in 1945 with the same flag.
The Italian volunteers brigades that work in the Yugoeslavia of Tito used the same flag but with star pointed to the hoist and in the pattern of some yugoeslavian old stars . This flag was little used in Italy because Stalin didn't want that the red star will be used by other peoples.
Jaume Olle, 20 September 1998
I have never seen (or can't remember) reference to such flag
used in FTT Zone B, that is one that was under the administraton
of Yugoslav Army (i.e. Tito's partisans). Actually, I never heard
of any flag ascribed to FTT Zone B. However, most probably the
well known Yugoslav flag with stars, as well as the national
flags with stars (Slovenian, Italian and Croatia) would have been
used. And, of course, the red flag of Communist party .
The two zones of FTT were latter (1953, IIRC) incorporated in Italy and Yugoslavia respectivly, with very minor border changes. FTT Zones issued both stamps and banknotes. I do not remember them quite vividly to claim anything, but there was not FTT flag or Coat of Arms on them. ISTR one FTT Zone B stamp with flag, but that one was pure red.
eljko Heimer , 24 September 1998
In the Belgian vexillological magazine Vexillinfo n°58 (March
1985), Aldo Ziggioto from Italy explains that he was in
Trieste in 1945. The First of May, the whole of the territory was
occupied by the Yugoslavian troops. In June, these had to quit
Trieste which was then occupied by the Western Allies. Since that
time, the territory was divided in two parts: the A zone (Trieste
and surroundings: Allied Military Government, then Free Territory
of Trieste) and B zone (part of Istria, governed by the
On the paper, the two zones formed together a territory with an autonomous administration. In reality, Yugoslavia immediately considered the B zone as a "free" zone and annexed it to the Popular Republic of Yugoslavia. Ziggioto says that in the B zone, the Italian tricolour was strictly forbidden, except when, but rarely, it bore a red star fimbriated gold in the middle (see above). In the other hand, the Slavs, who were relatively numerous in Trieste and in its surroundings, lived in a "democratic state" and could freely use the Yugoslav flag during demonstrations. In fact nobody knows that there was a specific flag for the Free territory of Trieste, for that there was only one "Trieste" flag made: the unique exemplar of the flag was flying above the castle of Duino.
Pascal Vagnat , 13 November 1999
As far as I'm aware, it is true that there was no specific
flag for FTT. Zone B was not "imidiately annexed", at
least not in theory- it formed separate zone under military
administration, and as such issued it's own stamps and currency
until 1954 when FTT as a whole was disbanded and included formaly
in Italy and Yugoslavia.
Regarding the Italian flag with "Yugoslav star", I belive that it was used in Zone B quite often, together with other flags of peoples living there - Croats and Slovenians, when appropriate, and when it was not only the Yugoslav flag hosited. Though, I do not have any documents by hand to support it.
eljko Heimer , 13 November 1999
image by Alex Belfi, 29 September 2000
This was the version of the official coat of arms of the FTT,
that was used in Zone B (under Yugoslav administration); I found
this on many documents (identity cards, school-reports, etc.)
that belong to my mother, as she lived in Zone B during her
Alex Belfi, 29 September 2000
Part of FTT Zone B is in Slovenia. To put it briefly, the FTT
was formed after the end of WWII and divided into Zone A under
Alied control and Zone B under the control of Yugoslav Army. The
situation remained so until mid-1950's (1956?) when it was agreed
that the Zone A is to be added to Italy and Zone B to Yugoslavia.
Some minor border corrections in favor of Zone B were made at the
time. The Zone B was divided between Yugoslav republics of
slovenia and Croatia according to the major population, Slovenia
gettin a small litoral around Koper, and Croatia getting the most
of Istria. The city of Trieste remianed in Italy (even if
Yugoslav politics of the time was strongly against it). As far as
I am aware, there were no special flags for the Zone B, or FTT as
a whole used in Zone B. The flags used were the Yugoslav flag
with red star and the flags of three nations living there
Italians, Croats and Slovenians also with red stars (so, equaling
to the flags of two Republics and the flag of Italian nationality
in Yugoslavia). This Coat of Arms that was shown here as the
variation used in Zone B, with the red star above the shield, I
have never encountered, at least it was not shown on stamps and
banknotes used there at the time. Possibly it was used in some
other conenction, though
eljko Heimer, 7 October 2000
see also: Free Territory of Trieste (1945-1954) (Italy)
fimage rom <digilander.libero.it/arupino>, located by Guido Abate, 31 December 2002
I've found the flag of the Italian exiles that left Istria
after WW2 at <digilander.libero.it/arupino/capraBandiera.gif>
. Also, at <digilander.libero.it/arupino/simboli.htm>
you may see that flag and a lot of coats of arms of Istria.
Guido Abate, 31 December 2002
I suppose that the site is maintained by the organization of
the Italians that left Istria after the WWII and now live in
Italy. These (and other Italians that left Croatian coast then)
are known as Esuli (guess stems from Itailan word for 'exile').
Such organizations are mainly focused in preserving the cultural
heritage, but sometimes iridentistic and fascist ideologies
eljko Heimer, 31 December 2002