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Dictionary of Vexillology: T (Tab - Type Flag)

Last modified: 2008-01-05 by phil nelson
Keywords: vexillological terms |
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A small piece of leather sewn into the sleeve of a flag fastened to a screw head protruding from the staff, and designed to keep an indoor flag, parade flag or military colour from slipping (see also ‘colour 2)’ and ‘sleeve 2)’).

Please note that this is an alternative to a grommet and clip or decorative nails as methods of fixing a parade flag or military colour to its staff. It should be noted also however, that the practice of tying a parade flag or military colour to its staff, or affixing it with metal rings, is not entirely obsolete (see also ‘ties’).

1) In US army usage, a trumpet banner - see ‘bannerette’.
2) The formal surcoat worn by a herald on ceremonial occasions, and emblazoned with those arms appropriate to the particular office involved (see also ‘coat of arms 2)’).

A small flag, frequently mounted on a cross bar whose staff and stand make it suitable for display on a desk or podium – a desk flag (see also ‘handwaver’).

A piece of halyard with Inglefield clips at both ends which is used to separate different signal hoists on the same halyard (see also ‘halyard’, ‘hoist 2)’ and ‘Inglefield clips’).

See ‘tongue(s)’.

A term for the Arabic inscription Allahu Akbar or “God is Great” that has appeared on several Arab Flags and can currently be seen on those of Iran and Iraq (see also ‘shahada’).

[Iraq - Takbir example]
National Flag of Iraq (fotw)

A metal implement attached to a flagpole (particularly one set at an angle from a building) that clasps a flag and prevents it wrapping itself around the pole (see also ‘flag pole’, ‘outrigger pole’ and ‘weighted fly’).

A decoration of twisted fabric or metal, often surrounding a wooden core and hanging from a cord, attached to a staff or directly onto a flag – especially a colour or parade flag (see also ‘colour 2)’, ‘cord 1)’ and ‘parade flag’).

See 'semaphore 2)'.

See ‘archivexillum’.

A heraldic term for the colour orange (see also ‘Appendix III’ and ‘rule of tincture’).

A Buddhist prayer flag or wall hanging that depicts scenes from the life and teachings of the Buddha (see also ‘prayer flag’ and ‘religious flag’).

See ‘swallowtail and tongue’ (also ‘triple tongued 2)’).

See ‘triband’ and ‘tricolour’.

Pieces of fabric or lengths of ribbon used in the largely (but not entirely) obsolete practice of tying a flag to its staff or mast.

Please note that the increasingly (but by no means entirely) obsolete practice of cutting the sleeve (through which the staff is inserted) of a military colour or parade flag into separate sections (with gaps in between) is almost certainly based on the earlier use of ties (see also ‘sleeve 2)’).

The heraldic term for the colours, metals and furs used on a shield or banner of arms (see 'Appendix III').

An oval-shaped wood or plastic cross-piece attached to a hoist-line sewn into the heading of a flag, that fastens to a becket or eyesplice at the upper end of the halyard for hoisting the flag on a mast or pole (see also ‘becket’, ‘halyard’, ‘heading’, ‘hoistline’ plus ‘running eye and toggle’).

One or more horizontal projections extending from the fly of a flag, either varying in width/length or of even size, sometimes triangular or possibly straight-sided with rounded or squared ends - tails (see also ‘fly 1)’, 'gonfalon', ‘gonfanon’, 'multi-tailed', ‘pallia’, ‘palm’, ‘schwenkel’, 'square-tongued', ‘stepped fly’, ‘swallow-tail(ed)’ ‘swallowtail and tongue’ and ‘triangular-ended tails’).

A heraldic wreath - see ‘wreath 2)’.


See ‘ring 1)’.

see 'Tugh 2)'.
The heraldic term used when a narrower tower or turret rises above the embattled top of another tower or turret, with the number of any such towers or turrets (if more than one) given – for example (as per two of those shown blow) a tower triple-towered (see also ‘embattled’).

arms of Sela, Portugal Castile-La Mancha, Spain Spanish naval jack
From left: Arms of Seia, Portugal (ICA) Flag of Castile-La Mancha, Spain; Naval Jack of Spain (fotw)

Please note that other variants might include a tower with a steeple or a tower domed (or with a cupola), with the example given below being a tower triple towered with one domed.

arms of Hamburg, Germay
Flag of Hamburg, Germany (fotw)

See ‘banner 3)’.

1) In UK military and some other usage, a term for marching with a colour or flag dragging on the ground, or standing in that position, and is employed as a mark of respect to the head of state at funerals or as a token of victory in a parade of captured enemy colours – but see ‘vailing’ (also ‘dipping 1)’).
2) An uncommon method of saluting using a flag hoisted on a pole - the flag is lowered until it just touches the ground for a few seconds, and then raised smartly - practiced in some monarchies as a salute to a member of the royal family.

A medieval term, now obsolete, for a banner on a crossbar.

A heraldically derived term for when the charge on a flag is shown as being rotated 90 degrees from the position in which it is usually seen.

[transversant cross example] [transversant shield example]

A charge similar to a triangle but with the apex squared, as in the flag of Kuwait (see also ‘triangle’).

[Kuwait - Trapezium example]
National Flag of Kuwait (fotw)

The heraldic term for a charge in the form of a stylized flower or plant with three petals or leaves, and which is almost invariably shown bearing a stalk (see also ‘cinquefoil’ and ‘quatrefoil’)

Mladenovac Serbia Malkov Czech Republic Trpinja Croatia
From left: Mladenovac, Serbia; Malkov, Czech Republic; Trpinja, Croatia (fotw)

Please note that a traditional Irish emblem – the shamrock – is also a trefoil.

An almost invariably horizontal charge whose apex lies along the meridian, and which may extend up to or slightly exceeding one-half the length of a flag, but whose base usually occupies the full width of the hoist. When the base is parallel to the lower edge of a flag it may be called an ‘upright triangle’, but in this latter case that base generally occupies only a proportion of a flag’s length (see also ‘meridian’).

[Triangle example]
From left: National Flag of Djibouti (fotw); National Flag of St Lucia

Please note, however, that a triangle whose apex and base touch opposite edges of the flag should be considered a pile (see also ‘pile’).

A term used to describe the fly of a flag or bottom edge of a gonfalon when it is in the form of a straight-sided triangle (see also ‘gonfalon 1)’ and ‘triangular-ended tails’ below).

[gonfalon showing triangular-ended]
Gonfalon of Bošnjaci, Croatia (Željko Heimer)

A term used to describe the fly of a flag or bottom edge of a gonfalon that is cut into two or more straight-sided tails or tongues with triangular ends (see also ‘gonfalon 1)’, ‘square-tailed’ ‘tongue(s)’ and and ‘triangular-ended’ above).

[Triband example]
Gonfalon of Labor, Croatia (Željko Heimer)

The sub-national flag of any group which shares an ethnic origin, but which is not internationally recognized as independent – but see ‘national flag 2)’ and ‘political flag 1)’ (also ‘sub-national flag’).

[tribal flags illustration]
From left: Navaho Nation, US (fotw); Arapaho Nation, US (fotw); Chickasaw Nation, US (fotw)

Please note that a tribal flag may also be a political flag under certain circumstances, and that some tribal flags may be considered as national flags dependent upon the legal status and/or ambitions of the tribal group concerned.

[tribal flags which serve as political or national flags]
From left: The Kurds, Iraq (fotw); The Aboriginals, A National Flag of Australia Under The Law (CS)

1) A flag of three parallel stripes or bands but using only two colours. These stripes may be disposed vertically, horizontally or diagonally, be of equal or unequal width and be either defaced or plain – a three-striped flag (see also ‘deface’, ‘plain 2)’ ‘stripe’, ‘tricolour’ and ‘width 2)’).
2) An undefaced flag with three equal parallel stripes or bands using two colours – a simple triband (see also ‘undefaced’).
3) Informally, any flag of three parallel stripes or bands in either two colours or three. These stripes may be disposed vertically, horizontally or diagonally, be of equal or unequal width and be either defaced or plain – but see notes below.

[Triband example]
National Flag of Nigeria (fotw)

[Triband example]
Flag of Norfolk Island (fotw)

[Triband example]
Flag of Andalusia, Spain

[Triband example]
Flag of Parana, Brazil,
1892-1905 (fotw)

Please note with regard to 1) and 2), that the Editors have drawn a distinction between flags with three stripes and three colours and those having three stripes and only two colours, with the definitions for tricolour and triband having been carefully drawn up using all available sources, however, please see further note below.

With regard to 3) it should be further noted that this definition includes not only all flags detailed in 1) and 2) above, but also those described under ‘tricolour’, and it is strongly suggested that these entries be consulted before usage.

A term sometimes applied to a flag of three stripes.

Please note however, before using this term it is suggested that the entry on bar in Appendix VI and/or a suitable glossary or heraldic dictionary be consulted.

See ‘tricolour 3)’ below.

1) A flag of three parallel stripes or bands in three different colours. These stripes may be disposed vertically, horizontally or diagonally, be of equal or unequal width and be either defaced or plain – a three-striped flag  (see also ‘deface’, ‘plain 2)’ and ‘stripe’, ‘triband’ and ‘width 2)’).
2) An undefaced flag with three equal parallel stripes or bands of different colours – a simple tricolour (see also ‘undefaced’).
3) The French national flag - le tricolore or that of the Netherlands - the driekleur (see also ‘princeflag’).

[Tricolor example] [Tricolor example] [Tricolor example] [Tricolor example] [Tricolor example]
National Flag of France (CS); National Flag of the Netherlands; National Flag of the Congo (fotw); National Flag of Ecuador (fotw); National Flag of St Vincent (fotw)

Please note that the definition of tricolour (as given herein) is restricted to flags of three colours disposed in three stripes, and that flags that do not fall into this category are defined elsewhere. Please note also, that the Editors have drawn a distinction between flags with three stripes and three colours, and those consisting of three stripes but only two colours, with the definitions for tricolour and triband having been carefully drawn up using all available sources, however, it should be further noted that this distinction is not always observed (see also ‘triband 3)’).

A charge, particularly (but not exclusively) a cross or saltire, divided longitudinally into three parts in three different colours, as in the flag of Dominica.

[Dominica - Tripartite example] [Guatavita Colombia]
From left: National Flag of Dominica (fotw); Flag of Guatavita, Colombia (fotw)

The term for a 17th Century Dutch naval flag of usually (but not invariably) nine even, horizontal stripes in the Dutch national colours repeated – but see ‘double-prince’ (also ‘princeflag’ and ‘tricolour 3)’)

triple prince eleven stripe triple prince
From left: Triple Prince c1660 (fotw); With Eleven Stripes c1660 (fotw)

Please note however, whilst all available evidence suggests that red, white and blue were employed, orange instead of red may have been used at an earlier stage.

1) See ‘swallow-tail and tongue’.
2) A term that may be used when a flag has three tails or tongues whose width and length are of equal size (see also ‘length 2)’, ‘tongues’ and ‘width 2)’).

[Triple-tailed example]
Naval Ensign of Estonia (fotw)

(adj) A term used to describe a fly that is cut into three tails with rounded ends (see also ‘double-tailed descate’, ‘fly’, ‘gonfanon’, ‘guidon 2)’, ‘standard 4)’, ‘swallowtail’, ‘swallowtail and tongue’ and 'tongue(s)).

[Triple-tailed descate example]

An originally mystical sign of ancient origin that consists of three symbols emanating from a central point, and of which the three-legged symbol on the flag of the Island of Man is almost certainly an adaptation.

[Triskelion example]
From left; Flag of the Isle of Man, UK (Martin Grieve); Sicilian; Celtic

A military ceremony at which the colour is marched past assembled troops (see also ‘colour 2)’ and ‘colours 2)’).

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

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’.

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 (see also ‘horsetail’, ‘standard 5)’ and ‘vexilloid 2)’).
2) A term for the standard, now obsolete, of certain regiments of French cavalry - the Spahis originally raised from North African tribesmen – a toug (see also ‘horsetail’ and ‘standard2)’).

Please note that the schellenbaum 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.

[Schellenbaum] Source: National Music Museum, used with permission

A model of pattern and colour, often fixed by law, after which actual flags are manufactured (see also ‘flag law’, ‘specification’ and ‘specification sheet’).

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