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Dictionary of Vexillology: R (Racing Flag - Religious flag)

Last modified: 2008-01-05 by phil nelson
Keywords: vexillological terms |
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A special flag flown from a yacht that is taking part in a race, and struck if it withdraws or when it crosses the finish line (see also ‘prize flag’ and ‘strike’).

(adj) The heraldic term for rays that expand from a central point - rayonne (see also ‘radiating’).

1) (adj) Rays spreading out from a central point and widening towards the edge of a flag as in, for example, the naval ensign of Japan, or the flag of the US State of Arizona (see also ‘active’, ‘inactive’ and ‘radiant’ and compare with ‘gyronny’).
2) (adj) A stripe or stripes usually widening from one fixed point, but occasionally from two closely spaced points as in, for example, the flags of the Marshall Islands or the Seychelles.
3) (adj) A group of objects or charges placed in an arc (usually from one fixed point) as in the national flags of China and Adygea.

[radiating flags] [radiating flags] [radiating flags]
From left: Flag of Arizona, USA (fotw); National Flago of the Seychelles (fotw); Naval Ensign of Japan

[radiating flags] [radiating flags]
National Flag of China (fotw); National Flag of Adygea, Russia (CS)

See ‘raguly’.

A heraldic term meaning any number of small regular projections set an angle on both sides of a bar, cross or saltire and thought to represent a roughly trimmed branch – as in, for example, the ragged cross (more accurately saltire) of Burgundy and later Spain.

Spanish Naval Flag 16-17th C (fotw)

See ‘dressing lines’ (also ‘dress ship’).

1) One of several flags showing the colours of the rainbow, with two prominent examples being the gay pride flag illustrated below and that of the Italian peace movement illustrated under peace flag.
2) An unofficial nickname for the national flag of South Africa.

[Federal Service Flag of Germany]
From left: The Current Gay Rights Flag; The Flag of Cusco, Peru (fotw)

See ‘Appendix V’.

A red warning flag used to signal safe or dangerous conditions at a target range (see also ‘red flag 1)’).

1) A flag which signifies the rank of a military officer as opposed to that of a civilian functionary - but please see also ‘flag of command’, ‘individual flag’ and ‘tugh’ (also ‘rank plate’).
2) An alternative term for a distinguishing flag (see ‘distinguishing flag’).

[rank flags]
From left: France - General, Lieutenant General, Major General, Brigadier General (FOTW)

Please note, that although these terms are sometimes considered interchangeable, the Editors have drawn a general distinction between the command flags used by senior naval officers, the rank flags employed by officers from the other armed services, the distinguishing flags of civilians and with personal flags.

In UK, US and some other usage, a rectangular panel that is displayed on the vehicle carrying a senior officer of the armed services, and used in place of or in addition to their relevant rank flag or flag of command – an automobile, distinguishing or star plate (see also ‘car flag’, ‘flag of command 1)’, ‘flag disc’ and ‘rank flag 1)’).

rank plate UK Field Marshal rank plate US Army/Marine Corps five star general
From left: Field Marshall UK and Five Star General Army and Marine Corps US (CS)

rank plate Royal Navy Commodore/Royal Marine Brigadier rank plate USN Ream Admiral (Lower Half)/US Air Force Brigadier General
From left: Commodore Royal Navy and Brigadier Royal Marines UK, Rear Admiral (Lower Half) USN and Brig Gen USAF (CS)

Please note that the number of stars range between one and five dependent upon the rank of the officer concerned.

Please note also that in US service officers of the army and the Marine Corps have red plates, whilst those of the USN and USAF have dark blue. In UK service, however, officers of the army have red, of the RN and Royal Marines dark blue, and of the RAF light blue (and that there is a combined services plate whose field is of vertical stripes in dark blue, red and light blue).

See ‘proportions’.

The flag considered by some sources to have been carried by Viking raiding parties up until the 11th Century, and to have been carried by the Normans at the Battle of Hastings (1066).

[Raven flag]

See ‘radiant’.
See ‘safe conduct flag’ (also ‘Geneva Convention flag’).

An affectionate nickname for the British civil ensign (see also ‘red ensign’ below).

1) In British usage the ensign ensign usually (but not invariably) worn undefaced by all privately owned merchant vessels and yachts – the red duster (see also ‘armorial ensign’, ‘civil ensign’ under 'ensign' ‘blue ensign’, ‘gridiron flag’, ‘undefaced’) and ‘white ensign’.
2) Generically, any canton flag (either plain or defaced) with a red field – particularly (but not exclusively) if flown at sea – a British-style ensign (see also ‘canton flag 1)’, ‘blue ensign 2)’ and ‘deface’).

[British Red Ensign] [British Red Ensign] [British Red Ensign] civil ensign - Ghana civil ensign - Nigeria
From left: Red Ensigns, England c1625–1707; UK 1707–1801(CS); UK From 1801 UK From 1801 and Civil Ensign from 1864 (fotw); Civil Ensign of Ghana; Civil Ensign of Nigeria (fotw)

Please note with regard to 1) that the red ensign is flown defaced by a few yacht clubs and by some non-governmental bodies (see also ‘defaced’)

[Royal Dart Yacht Club]
Royal Dart Yacht Club, UK (fotw)

1) A plain red flag used in a variety of circumstances to signify danger (see also ‘beach flag’, ‘fire alert flag’, ‘range flag’ and ‘storm warning flags’).
2) The colloquial term for a predominantly or wholly red flag signifying revolution – the bloody flag.
3) A colloquial term for the national flag of the former Soviet Union (see also ‘banner of victory 1)’).

With regard to 1) please note that the International Code of Signals stipulates flag bravo – a plain red swallow tail – should be flown when loading, discharging or carrying a dangerous cargo (see also ‘international code of signals’ and ‘swallow tail(ed)’).

Please note with regard to 2) that the first recorded use of such a flag (with political motives) was when it was flown by some ships during the mutiny at the Nore in the Royal Navy of 1797 and thereafter during several revolutionary situations until becoming firmly associated with Socialism during the Paris Commune of 1871. This red flag was the direct ancestor of the later Soviet and other Communist flags - see 'red flag 3)' above.

[Danger flag, Flag Bravo and Soviet Union]
From left: Danger Flag (CS); Flag Bravo (CS); National Flag of The Soviet Union 1924 – 1991 (fotw)

See ‘west-east diagonal’ (also ‘ascending diagonal’, ‘bend’ in Appendix VI, ‘descending diagonal’, 'east-west diagonal', ‘north-south diagonal’ and ‘south-north diagonal’).

[reduced bend flag]

See ‘east-west diagonal’ (also ‘ascending diagonal’, ‘bend sinister’ in Appendix VI, ‘descending diagonal’, ‘north-south diagonal’, ‘south-north diagonal’ and ‘west-east diagonal’).

[reduced bend sinister flag]

(v) To thread the halyard through a block (or over a pulley) fitted into the truck and thereby raise or lower a flag (see also ‘halyard’ and ‘truck’).

See ‘Appendix V’.

See ‘colour 2)’ and ‘colours 2)’.

[Regimental colour example]
Regimental Colour 18th Infantry Regiment 18th Century, Germany (fotw)

1) The plural form of regimental colour and in this context used only when referring to the second or unit flag of more than one battalion/regiment (see ‘colour 2)’, ‘colours 2)’ and following note).
2) In British army usage, those shades or colours that are considered representative of a particular regiment, and which are usually employed on their camp flag and regimental ties etc., in addition to the formal regimental colour as defined in ‘colour 2)’, ‘colours 2)’ and in 1) above (see also ‘camp flag’ and ‘fanion 2)’).

See 'camp flag'.

In French maritime usage the term, now obsolete, for those flags/pennants which were flown from the main masthead of merchant vessels to show in which sector of an arrondissement maritime (maritime province) or colonial area they were registered, and in use from 1817 – c1929 ¬– arrondissement or sector flags/pennants (see also ‘main’, ‘masthead’ and ‘pennant 2)’).

[registration flag example]
Registration Flag, One Sector of the Arrondissement of Brest, France (fotw)

See ‘cross 1)’.

See ‘war flag 1)’ and ‘war flag 2)’.

See ‘banner 3)’, ‘gonfalon 1)’ and ‘religious flag’.

Generically, any flag that is used in religious worship, or that represents a particular faith or denomination within that faith (see note below and also ‘banner 3)’, ‘Christian flag’, ‘church flag 2)’, ‘dhvaja’, ‘ex-voto flag’, ‘khanda’, ‘prayer flag’ and ‘thangka’).

Please note that a Roman Catholic church often flies either the flag of the Vatican City State or a bicolour in the Papal colours of white and gold, that an Islamic mosque usually displays one or more crescent vexilloids and a Jewish synagogue the Menorah or the Magen David (see also ‘crescent’, ‘Magen David’, ‘Menorah’ and ‘vexilloid’). It should be noted also, that religious flags in the US are often displayed within the church building as well as outside, whereas in the UK Christian churches, with the exception of those religious banners carried in procession (and laid up military colours), usually (but not invariably) fly such flags outdoors.

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