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Dictionary of Vexillology: C (Class Flag - Conducting Colours)

Last modified: 2008-01-05 by phil nelson
Keywords: vexillological terms |
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In British RAF usage, the alternative name for a rank flag – see ‘rank flag 1)’

A metal fitting with two arms, which is attached to the lower part of a flagpole or mast for securing the halyard (see also ‘belaying pin’, ‘flag pole’ and ‘halyard’).

A term for the lower fly corner or both lower corners of a flag – particularly (but not exclusively) a religious/processional banner or similar – to which a line or lines are attached so as to prevent unwanted movement - particularly in windy conditions (see also ‘banner 3)’ and ‘outrigger pole’)

(adj) A naval term for when a flag or pennant is hoisted right up to the truck (see also ‘truck’).

See ‘double tailed descate’.

See ‘descate’.

A small triangular flag designed to be hung vertically usually charged with the emblem and livery colours of a sporting club (see also ‘livery colours’, ’pennant 2’ and ‘souvenir flags’).

The Initials for Cyan, Yellow, Magenta and Black, being the four primary shades used in the print process to create any colour, and an abbreviation for the four-colour printing system (see also ‘cable number’, ‘British colour code’, ‘Pantone Matching System’ and ‘International Colour Code’).

See ‘masthead pennant 2)’ and ‘whip pennant 2)’).

A heraldic term that refers to each individual section or quartering on a shield or banner of arms (see also 'banner 1)', 'impaled', 'quartering' and 'shield 2)’).

1) On flags and generically, the heraldic insignia of an individual or family, or of a corporate institution such as a nation, province or municipality, or of a commercial enterprise. In general terms the coat of arms can contain all the elements that make up a full set of armorial bearings - but see 2) below (also ‘lesser arms’, ‘middle arms’ and ‘state arms 1)’ under ‘arms’).
2) In heraldry, as above but the term only refers to the shield from a full set of armorial bearings – an escutcheon (see also ‘armorial bearings’ and ‘shield’).

Please note that a full set of armorial bearings can include (for example) shield, supporters, helmet, torse, crest, mantling, compartment, motto, collar etc., and whilst many of the terms used are illustrated in Appendix IV and/or briefly defined herein, it is suggested that a suitable glossary or heraldic dictionary be consulted for full details.

Please note also that the emblems of some countries such as those of Mexico or Italy – whilst conforming to the definition of that term as detailed herein – are officially described as “coats of arms” (see also ‘emblem, national’).

1) A rosette or bow, generally in national or livery colours, and sometimes used to decorate a staff below the finial (see also ‘finial’, ‘livery colours’ and ‘staff’).
2) A rosette or bow formerly worn by both military personnel and civilians (largely on the hat or shako) to indicate patriotic or political loyalties and still sometimes seen – the cockade was the precursor of many national flags (those of Argentina and France being two examples).
3) See ‘roundel 1)’.

The National cockade of Columbia (fotw)

1) In flags a medieval term, now obsolete, for a lance pennon - see ‘lance pennon 1)’.
2) In heraldry as above but the term can include everything by which an armigerous person is known (see also ‘armigerous’).

The ceremonial neck-chain of an Order of Knighthood, worn instead of a sash and emblem on state occasions by members of the highest class of that Order, and often seen surrounding a royal or princely coat of arms – once frequent on royal standards, a modern example would be the collar of the order of the golden fleece around the arms on the royal standard of Spain.

The Royal Arms, Spain (fotw)

The flags of those areas or countries which in the past were under the political control of another country, or of the officers appointed to administer that area or country – but see note below (also ‘archivexillum’, ‘badge 2)’, ‘blue ensign’ and ‘canton flag’).

[colonial flags]
From left: British Honduras 1919–1981 (fotw); French Morocco 1919-1956; Portuguese Colonial Governor c1912–1975 (fotw)

Please note that whilst a number of countries still posses territory overseas, the term “colony” (therefore colonial) is no longer used, with the areas concerned being named an dependent and/or overseas territory, overseas department or similar, or are considered an integral part of the motherland.

[colonial flags]
From left: Falklands Islands (fotw); Saba and Curacao, until Dec 2008 part of the Netherlands Antilles; French Guiana (fotw)

1) A heraldic term for any tincture (or colour) that is not a metal (see ‘rule of tincture’).
2) The official ceremonial flag of a military unit (originally of an infantry unit only), and in this context it is sometimes used in the plural when referring only to a single flag – regimental colour, unit colour, queen’s, king’s or royal colour, national or presidential colour etc – but see ‘colours 2)’ (also ‘company colours’, 'presidential colour 2)', ‘second colour’ and ‘stand 1)’). see supplemental note
3) In some countries (although entirely military in origin) the ceremonial flag of a non-military organization - such as the police or fire service - that is entitled (or has assumed the right to bear) to bear such colours - but see also ‘parade flag’ and the note below.

[regimental color]
Regimental Colour of the Black Watch, UK (Graham Bartram)

Please note that the self-adopted flags of various non-governmental or semi-governmental organizations, whilst often being given the reverence and treatment normally shown to an officially awarded colour, are strictly speaking parade flags and not colours.

Please note that there are basically three ways involving a sleeve by which a parade flag or military colour may be affixed to its staff - with decorative nails (often a precisely regulated number of nails), by grommet and clip or by tab and hook. Note also however, that the practice of tying a colour to its staff, or attaching it by cloth loops or metal rings is still occasionally seen (see also ‘grommet’, ‘nails’, ‘sleeve 2)’, 'tab' and ‘ties’).

One who bears the regimental, unit, or national colour (see also ‘balcanifer’, ‘colour 2)’, ‘cornet 3)’, ‘enceniator’, ‘ensign 4)’, ‘gonfalonier’, ‘standard bearer’ and ‘vexillary’).

See ‘flag belt’.

1) The ceremonial escort of the standard bearer, symbolically responsible for guarding the colour during a military parade (see also ‘colour 2)’ and ‘standard bearer’).
2) The guard in attendance when the national colours are raised or lowered ashore or afloat with full ceremony (see also ‘colours 5)’).
3) See ‘colour party 1)’ below.

Whilst a number of systems (international, national and proprietary) for identifying colours by numbers or names are listed separately herein, several (particularly national) systems are not - largely because they receive limited use or that use is apparently restricted to their countries of origin (see also ‘British Colour Code’, 'Cable Number', ‘CMYK’, ‘International Colour Code’ and ‘Pantone Matching System’).

1) In US and some other usage, the standard bearer and colour guard collectively (see also ‘colour 2)’, ‘colour guard 1)’ and ‘standard bearer’).
2) In naval usage, the personnel detailed to carry out the ceremonies of morning and evening colours (see also 'colour guard', 'sunset' and 'colours 5').

In US military usage, the non-commissioned officer who carries the national colour (see also ‘colour 2)’ and ‘colours 2)’).

Please note that in British military usage this rank, now partially obsolete, had and has (as far as can be discovered) no specific duties connected with escorting or guarding the colour or colours. Historically however, the senior sergeants within any battalion or regiment (for whom the rank was originally instituted) could have such a duty.

1) Figuratively any national flag.
2) In UK and US practice (and in some other cases), one or both of the flags issued simultaneously to a military unit (see ‘colour 2)’, ‘company colours’, ‘presidential colour’, ‘second colour’, ‘stand 1)’ and note below).
3) Generally at sea, any flag that denotes nationality.
4) Specifically at sea, the ensign of a merchant vessel, or the suit of flags worn by a warship (see also ‘ensign’ and ‘suit of flags’).
5) The ceremony of hoisting the ensign and jack particularly (but not exclusively) aboard a warship or naval shore establishment – morning colours, conducting or making colours (see also ‘sunset’).
6) The combination of colours – whether metal or tincture - derived from the personal or house flag of an individual, company or association (see also ‘Appendix III’, 'house flag 3)' and 'personal flag 3)').

Please note, that in military forces where it is customary for some or all units to carry a pair of colours, the first of these colours now generally represents the head of state or the state itself and is known - depending on the country concerned - as the king's, queen's, sovereign's, royal, national, president's, presidential, or state colour. The second represents the unit itself and is known as the regimental, battalion, squadron, organizational, or unit colour. The first type of colour is generally (but not invariably) based on the design of the national flag, and in a few cases (such as in the British and Canadian regiments of foot guards) it is the regimental colour that derives from the design of the national flag. In addition, in some countries a single distinctive colour carried by some military forces (such as the British Royal Navy or the Indian Air Force) may be designated as a sovereign's (king's, queen's) or president's colour.

See ‘flag of defiance’.

See ‘flag of command’.

1) In naval usage, a generally triangular and/or swallow-tailed pennant flown at sea that, unlike a flag of command, broad pennant or burgee command pennant, does not replace the masthead pennant but which signifies an officer in command of other ships who is below the rank of commodore – a group command pennant, flotilla command pennant, senior officer’s pennant, squadron command pennant and others (see also ‘broad pennant’, ‘burgee command pennant’, ‘flag of command’, ‘masthead pennant 1)’, ‘private ship’ and ‘senior officer afloat pennant’).
2) In US usage, a unit equivalent to the above but of aviation or marine forces.

From left; Squadron Command Pennants: UK (Graham Bartram); Denmark (fotw); Flotilla Command Pennant: Netherland (CS)

Please note - not to be confused with the senior officer afloat pennant which (certainly in the case NATO and related services, and of countries whose navy bases its traditions on those of the RN) is only flown whilst alongside or in harbour. Note also, that a distinction has been drawn between the standard masthead pennant flown by commissioned warships (occasionally called a pennant of command), and the command pennants as defined above that are flown subordinate to it.

See ‘banner 5)’.

See ‘award flag’.

A flag made to celebrate or to mark a particular occasion, such as an anniversary, holiday or international congress - an occasional flag.

[Queens golden jubliee flag] [1876 centennial US flag] [17th International Congress of Vexillology]
From left: Golden Jubilee of HM The Queen 2002, UK; Centennial Flag 1876, US; 17th International Congress of Vexillology, RSA (fotw)

See ‘house flag 1)’ and ‘corporate flag’.

See ‘masthead pennant 1)’. see supplemental note

See ‘broad pennant’.

Small additional colours carried by foot regiments of the British and Canadian Brigade of Guards, and a survival of the general 16th/17th Century practice of carrying a colour for each company in a regiment – camp colours or silks (see also ‘camp colour 1)’, ‘colour 2)’, ‘colours 2)’, ‘postures’ and ‘stand 1)’).

Please note that a regimental stand of nine colours was not unknown for an English regiment of foot in the mid-17th Century.

See ‘corporate flag’.

A heraldic term for the symbolic base upon which a shield and supporters rest in a full set of armorial bearings (see also ‘Appendix IV’, ‘armorial bearings’, ‘shield’ and ‘coat of arms’).

In the International Code of Signals, two or more flags or pennants added to a basic signal to give clarity or precision to the message (see also ‘international code of signal flags, ‘international code of signals’ and ‘signal flag’).

See ‘armorial bearings’.

See ‘courtesy flag’.

See ‘colours 5)’.

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