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Dictionary of Vexillology: M (Magen David - Mural Crown)

Last modified: 2008-01-05 by phil nelson
Keywords: vexillological terms |
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The Shield or Star of David composed of two interlaced triangles forming a six pointed star, and symbolic of Judaism (see also ‘menorah’).

[Magen David]

Please note that the Magen David is also known as the Seal of Solomon and as such may be represented with five points as it now appears on the flags of Ethiopia and Morocco (based on the Hebrew Encyclopaedia).

See ‘golden mean’.

See ‘postal flag’.

A pennant, increasingly obsolete, flown at sea at by vessels carrying, or more usually licensed to carry mail – a postal or royal mail pennant (see also ‘postal flag’ and ‘royal air mail pennant’).

[Mail Pennant]
Mail Pennant, Poland 1937-39 (fotw)

The most important mast in a ship or yacht, or the tallest mast in a sailing ship from which the masthead pennant or the command flag of a full admiral (or five star/Admiral of the Fleet) was formerly flown (see also ‘flag of command’, ‘fore’, ‘mast 2)’, ‘masthead’, ‘masthead pennant 1)’ and ‘mizzen’).

(v) To hoist that group of signal flags which identify a ship in a recognized code (see also ‘International Code of Signal Flags’, ‘private signal’ and ‘signal flag’).

See ‘colours 5)’.

The heraldic term for a cross resembling four arrowheads, with straight-sided arms, eight outward facing points and inner points which meet at the centre – but see ‘cross pattιe’ (also ‘cross 2)’).

[Magen David]
From left: Medical Services, Spain (fotw); Flag of Polzela, Slovenia (fotw); Grand Master of the Military Order of Malta (fotw)

A heraldic term for a cloak or robe behind the shield, and which can enclose a full set of armorial bearings (see also ‘Appendix IV’ and ‘armorial bearings’).

Please note that when used on the arms of a ruling prince or sovereign a mantle becomes a pavilion (see ‘pavilion’), however, mantles may still be seen in the parliamentary and state robes worn by British peers (which are graded according to rank).

A heraldic term for the decoration resembling drapery in a coat of arms, and attached to the helmet by a torse (see also ‘Appendix IV’, ‘armorial bearings’, ‘coat of arms’ and, ‘helm’ – for information on torse see ‘wreath 2)’).

In US military usage and some others, a pennant used to mark the turning points or limits of a parade ground (see also ‘pennant 2)’).

See the note after ‘International Code of Signal Flags’.

1) Any vertical projection from a vessel upon which sails and/or flags can be hoisted (see also ‘fore’, ‘mizzen’ and ‘stumpmast’).
2) See ‘flag pole’ (also ‘pole mast’, ‘sailor’s mast’ and ‘stayed mast’).

The highest point below the truck of any mast afloat or ashore (see also ‘mast’ and ‘truck’).

(adv) When a flag is flown at the truck of a mast or at a point below the truck, it is said to fly 'at the masthead'

1) Generically, any flag hoisted at the masthead of a vessel (see also ‘mast’ and ‘masthead’).
2) Specifically, the national flags hoisted at the masthead of all masts when a ship is dressed overall, usually the national flag of the nation being honoured (see also ‘dress ship’).

1) A flag, usually long and narrow and generally (but not exclusively) tapering from hoist to fly, it can be triangular, cut off to a square end or swallow-tailed, and is flown from the main masthead of a naval or other public vessel in commission but which does not carry a flag officer (or officer commanding other vessels) on board – commissioning or commission pennant, narrow pennant, pennant of command, war or warship pennant or of a warship commander and others (see also ‘broad pennant’, ‘burgee command pennant’, ‘command pennant’, ‘flag officer’, ‘flag of command’, ‘flagship’ and ‘private ship’).
2) The generic name for any long narrow flag that is flown from the masthead of a vessel – a whip pennant (see also ‘streamer’, ‘homeward bound pennant’ or ‘paying off pennant’).

Please note that a distinction has been drawn between the standard masthead pennant flown by commissioned warships as defined in 1) above, and the various command pennants that are flown in addition and subordinate to it (see also ‘command pennant’). Please note also however, that there are two exceptions to this – the broad pennant and the burgee command pennant - both of which replace the masthead pennant when flown.

[Masthead Pennant - Spain]
Masthead Pennant of Spain

[Masthead Pennant - Belgium]
Masthead Pennant of Belgium

[Masthead Pennant - France]
Masthead Pennant of France

See ‘streamer 2)’.

1) See ‘dinner flag’.
2) In US usage the practice, almost certainly obsolete, of flying a red triangular pennant from the port yardarm (or spreader) of a pleasure vessel when the crew are at meals – a crew’s meal pennant (see also ‘dinner flag’, ‘guest on board flag’, ‘owner absent flag’ and ‘yardarm’).

meal pennant
Meal Pennant, US (fotw)

1) In largely (but not exclusively) US usage, a small national flag (affixed to a short staff) which, on specified memorial occasions, is implanted on the graves at military cemeteries – a grave decoration flag.
2) A flag designed to memorialize one or more persons, or to express sympathy for people in a specific situation. Such flags may or may not be officially recognized, and are sometimes created by adding symbols or wording to a national or other recognized flag.
3) See ‘commemorative flag’.

POW-MIA flag 9/11 memorial flag 9/11 memorial flag
POW-MIA Flag, US and Canada (fotw) 9/11 Memorial Flags, US (an official website and CS)

A seven-branch candlestick that is symbolic of Judaism, and is featured on the national arms, the Presidential Standard and some other flags of Israel (see also ‘Magen David’ and ‘presidential standard’).

[Presidential standard - Israel] [Arms of Israel]
Presidential Standard and National Arms, Israel (fotw)

See ‘civil ensign’ under ‘ensign’.

An alternative term, now largely obsolete, for the civil ensign (see ‘civil ensign’ under ‘ensign’).

[Merchant flag]
Merchant Flag of Spain 1785 – 1927 (fotw)

An alternative term, now largely obsolete, for the civil jack (see ‘civil jack’ under ‘jack’).

An imaginary line drawn (either vertically or horizontally) through the centre of a flag – a vertical or horizontal meridian.

See Appendix III.

See under ‘arms’.

See ‘banner 5)’ (also ‘sovereign’s banner’).

See Appendix III.

The aftermost mast in a sailing vessel with three or more masts (and on a two masted vessel dependent upon the rig) from which the gaff is rigged, and from which the command flag of a rear-admiral was formerly flown (see also ‘flag of command’, ‘fore’, ‘gaff’, ‘mast’ and ‘masthead’).

A simple often (but not exclusively) circular design and the Japanese equivalent of a heraldic badge or shield, originally a personal or family symbol, they are now also common in Japanese civic flags (see also ‘daimo flags’ and, hinomaru’).

[Mon on Japanese flag]
Flag of Aogashima Island, Japan (fotw)

A motif formed by one or more letters, formerly often intertwined and now more usually seen plain, as for example, on the royal standard of Belgium and some presidential flags of France – a cipher or ligature (this last especially if of only two letters).

[Monograms on flags]
Belgium (fotw)

[Monograms on flags]
France 1969 – 74 (fotw)

See ‘colours 5)’.

See ‘draping’ (also ‘cravat 2)’).

1) The current system of signalling with flags (or with the arms alone in the absence of flags) using the Morse code, where if hand-held vertically (above the head) they signify dots and if held horizontally (at shoulder level) dashes (see also ‘international code of signals’, ‘semaphore’ and ‘wigwag’).
2) A system, now obsolete, of signalling with a single flag using the Morse code, where short waves signified dots and long waves dashes - signalling by flag waving (see also ‘semaphore’ and ‘wigwag’).

Please note that 1) is contained in the current (2005) Edition of the International Code of Signals, and that 2) had reasonably widespread use in the field prior to radio, both between artillery batteries and forward observers, and for communication between naval and army units ashore. Please note also that the 1937 (British) Admiralty Manual of Seamanship gave the Morse code flags as plain blue, or white with a blue horizontal stripe (against light or dark backgrounds respectively), but that other variants are known to have existed.

A word or phrase, sometimes in a classical language, usually inscribed on the scroll accompanying a coat of arms or state emblem, and originally derived from the war cry (see also ‘Appendix IV’, ‘device 1)’ and ‘scroll’).

A usually plain black flag of slightly varying design, displayed (sometimes unofficially) by organisations and persons to signify mourning for people or events, often (but not invariably) for political reasons – not to be confused with a pall flag or funeral flag (see ‘funeral flags’ and ‘pall flag’, also ‘cravat 2)’, ‘draping’ and 'half mast a flag').

[Mourning flag example]
From left: Croatia (CS); Denmark (CS)

See ‘star 2)’.

1) A flag of four or more stripes or bands, whether horizontal, vertical or diagonal, and of equal or unequal width. (see also ‘plain 2)
2) A flag of four or more horizontal stripes or bands of equal width, also barry.
3) A flag of four or more vertical stripes or bands of equal width, also paly.
4) A flag of four or more diagonal stripes or bands of equal width, also bendy if they go from the upper hoist to the lower fly or bendy sinister if from the lower hoist to the upper fly.

Please note however, that on certain flags (as in those of - for example – Botswana, The Gambia or North Korea) there is often no clear distinction between a fimbriation and a stripe, and that the terms ‘multi-stripe’ or ‘fimbriated tricolour/triband’ (or similar) may reasonably be used as alternatives in describing such flags (see also ‘Appendix VI’, ‘fimbriation’ and ‘stripe’).

[Multi-stripe flags]
From left: Civil Flag of Costa Rica (fotw); National Flag of Mauritius (fotw); Power Squadrons, US (fotw); Flag of Friesland, Netherlands (fotw)

(adj) A term used to describe a fly that is cut into more than three tails or tongues (see also ‘gonfanon’, ‘square-tongued’, ‘swallowtail and tongue’ and tongue(s)).

(adj) A term used to describe a fly that is cut into more than three tails with rounded ends (see also ‘double-tailed descate’, ‘fly’, ‘gonfanon’, square-tailed', ‘swallow-tail(ed)’ ‘swallowtail and tongue’ and tongue(s)).

See ‘civic flag 1)’.

2) Specifically the heraldic term for a crown with masoned, battlemented walls but without towers, often representative of a town or city and reputedly based on an ancient Roman triumphal ornament - but see ‘civic crown 1)’ also ‘astral crown’, ‘coronet’ ‘crown’) and ‘naval crown’.

Please note that in some European heraldic systems, the number of crenellations is dependent upon the size and civic status of the municipality represented.

[mural crown]
Heraldic Mural Crown (Parker)

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