Last modified: 2006-03-04 by ivan sache
Keywords: south ossetia | ossetia | snow lion | secessionist | coat of arms: south ossetia |
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Flag of South Ossetia - Image by Ivan Sache, 5 October 1995
Status: Self-proclaimed independence from Georgia, which whom conflict continues.
Despite their loyalty to the Soviet state, Communist
divide-and-rule policies dictated the division of Ossetians lands
into two regions. A North Ossetian Autonomous
Region was created in 1924, two years after a
South Ossetian Autonomous Region. To
further complicate matters (as it was surely intended to), North
Ossetia was part of Russia and South Ossetia part of Georgia.
This ethnic time-bomb duly exploded when Georgia became a separate state. Ossetians in South Ossetia, desiring union with their kinsmen in the north, declared their republic a part of Russia rather than Georgia in 1989. A year later (Georgia having abolished the autonomous status of the region) South Ossetia declared independence and armed conflict, which has still not been resolved, erupted.
The Ossetians are said to be descendents of the Sarmatians, a Central Asiatic people who migrated westwards into the region in the VIIth century BC.
Stuart Notholt, 5 October1995
The historical homeland of Ossetian people is and can be only so
called North Ossetia or simply Ossetia (local name Alania).
There are almost inaccessible mountains on its south (higher than
Mont Blanc) and it is quite impossible for a people to form on both
slopes of such range.
Only about a few centuries ago, some tribes of Ossetians, pursued by their stronger Muslim neighbours, began to move through Caucasus range, looking for a safer place.
Historically, there has never been some Ossetian state. The territory of present-day South Ossetia always belonged to Georgia and in many conquests always shared the fate of neighbouring Georgian territories. Before Bolshevik revolution in Russia nobody used the term "South Ossetia" and it was always regarded as part of Kartli, one of main historical regions of Georgia. However, the Georgian population in that hostile mountain territory was sparse, so Ossetians who had no choice became the majority there during the XIXth and XXth centuries. This was the reason to proclame first an autonomous region and then, after the collapse of USSR, a republic.
But, in any case, it was not some kind of deliberate decision "intended to complicate matters" and create inter-ethnic tensions or example of "divide-and-rule policies" simply because there was nothing to divide.
Alexander Morozov, 6 May 1999
The flag of South Ossetia has similar colours to North Ossetian, but different proportions. Red is said to stand for military virtue; white for intelligence and the spiritual life of the nation; and yellow for the well-being of the people.
Stuart Notholt, 5 October 1995
The flag was prescribed by the Constitution of 26 November 1990 (Article 155) and confirmed by the Regulation on the National Flag of 30 March 1992.
Victor Lomantsov, 12 October 2002
Coat of arms of South Ossetia - Image by Nozomi Kariyasu & Ivan Sache, 13 July 2004
Click on the arms to see a larger image.
On a red round escutcheon a golden snow leopard with black spots, walking on a golden ground, behind it seven silver mountains. A white border, black ornaments around all, inwards black marginal inscriptions "Republic of South Ossetia" in Cyrillic letters РЕСПУБЛИКА ЮЖНАЯ ОСЕТИЯ (Russian, top) and РЕСПУБЛИКӔ ХУССАР ИРБІСТОН (Ossetian, beneath), between the two inscriptions a round emblem consisting of three segments in the colours silver, yellow and red (counterclockwise). The inscriptions and the ornament are separated by a thin circle.
Source: Folder "State symbols of the Republic South Ossetia" issued by the Government of the Republic South Ossetia on 19 May 1999 - German version forwarded by Nozomi Kariyasu and translated by Marcus Schmöger, 13 July 2002
The coat of arms is identical, except the inscription, to the one of
It was designed by the Georgian scientist Prince Vakhushti Bagrationi in 1735. Its original copy is held in the Georgian Manuscripts Collection in Tbilisi.
David Gigauri, 13 July 2004
The former arms of the independent government of South Ossetia headed by President Ludvig Chibirov are shown on Soslan Tabuev's website, with the following description:
According to the ancient Ossetic myths (Nartian epos) all those
things were given by God to the Narts, the legendary forefathers of
the Ossetians since ancient times.
Hop is a symbol of finding the eternity.
Ears of wheat stand for peace and prosperity.
The word Wasamonga translates from Ossetic as "Teaching the holy". In the Nartian epos (Narty Kadgita) the Wasamonga cup proclaimed truth and exposed lies. The cup (for every Ossete) is the symbol of Justice and Equality of all before the laws of morality.
These colors are the national colors of Ossetia and are on the flag of both South and North parts of the land.
Chris Kretowicz, 27 March 2001
"Banner of the Republic" of South Ossetia - Image by Victor Lomantsov, 9 October 2004
The World on BBC4 tv tonight (6 August 2004) had a piece about the
situation in South Ossetia.
The more interesting vexillological information came in an interview with South Ossetian President Eduard Kokoiti. Behind him was a flag bearing the national coat of arms; presumably this is the presidential flag.
The coat of arms on the flag is very similar to the image shown above, but there are some differences: the "divider" between the names of the republic in the two languages (Ossetian and Russian) looks a lot like a Breton triskell and doesn't have the coloured infills which we show; more significantly, the Russian inscription is at the bottom rather than the top. There is also something odd about the disposition of the two colours visible on the flag - they appear to meet at the С of РЕСПУБЛИКА, which is on neither the vertical nor horizontal axis of the coat of arms.
André Coutanche, 6 August 2004
The flag manufacturer October labels the flag the "banner of the Republic".
Victor Lomantsov, 9 October 2004
Flag of the National Guard - Image by Ivan Sache, 7 March 2002
The national flag with a white snow lion in the red stripe was unofficially used by the National Guard.
Victor Lomantsov, 7 March 2002
This flag appears in the Flags of Aspirant Peoples chart [eba94], #111, with the following caption:
SOUTH OSSETIA (IRISTI)
North Caucasus, Georgia
Ivan Sache, 15 September 1999