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Croatia - Other Proposals and Unofficial Variations

Last modified: 2005-04-23 by dov gutterman
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From Vecernji list, 28-JAN-2000 [my notes in brackets]

Is the Croatian Coat of Arms really unconstitutional and should it and the flag be changed - with the designer Brois Ljubicic and historian prof. dr. Niksa Stancic

The flag - a visual code

The flag project of the designer Boris Ljubicic was made in July 1990. - The idea is based on synthesis of the historical elements: the tricolour and the Croatian coat of arms. The tricolour is very frequent flag, and therefore the coat of arms is the basic differential element. The economic, political, cultural and sports contest of the new state requires recognisable, effective and differential visual characteristics. The interchangeable squares already represent different contents HRT [Croatian national TV house], tourism, Zagreb International Fair and there is need to link it with the basic, ceremonial, offical and unique identity of the state, and that is her flag. Japan, Switzerland and US treat their flag as a visual code or a symbol of grat corporation - explains Ljubicic.

We are not a monarchy, so we do not need coats of arms

If the Croatian coat of arms is unconstitutional is the question recently incited by dr. Slaven Letica. After we wrote about that we were contacted by a historian prof. dr. Niksa Stancic, member of expert committee that in 1990 worked in the first phase of the work on new coat of arms, and afterwards by well-known designer Boris Ljubicic, who for some time thinks about integral Croatian visual identity, so he has his own proposal for a new Croatian flag! - Croatia have to create an image of herself, and our current flag with the coat of arms associates to 19th century and monarchies period. The state is presented in the worlds by her visual identity that should be a Croatian product highlights Ljubicic. Most of the modern states, even those that are still fomally monarchies, like Great Britain, Denmark and Sweden, on their flags have no coat of arms to symbolise the hereditary ruling dynasties. It happened to us to entangle in flotsam and jetsam of, so called, art history, in stead to make the modern visual identity, by redesigning the traditional elements, that could be incorporated into symbols of our companies. Even if, for example, Privredna banka [large bank of Zagreb, previously state owned], is sold to Italians, in its it is not clear that it is a company that work and act in Zagreb. Ina [state owned oil company], Agrokor [large private food industry] and others should have clear symbol that those are Croatian companies, as it is visible in the symbol of the Italian Benetton, containing green colour from Italian flag and bringing it to Croatia - said Ljubicic.
We can discuss the coat of arms, but not its constitutionality Prof. dr. Niksa Stancic, historian in History Department, Faculty of Philosophy in Zagreb, lead the expert committee that participated in the first stage of the creation of the new Croatian coat of arms in 1990. - Just after the elections in 1990, dr. Domljan [president of parliament at the time] asked me to establish a workgroup. Our task was not to propose the shape and contents of the coat of arms, but to provide the expert background, to warn the politicians who shall determine the coat of arms on the heraldry rules. We have given the models how the coat of arms could be done. We warned also that new heraldry does not respect and does not have to respect the rules of the traditional heralrdy. According to heraldry, the coat of arms have obligatory and non-obligatory elements. So, a rank symbol if obligatory, a symbl of baron or count, or, in case of a state, a symbol for monarchy or republic. The traditional symbol of a republic is a three-towered city, and out coat of arms is somewhat historized, something that could symbolize a historical kindgom. The fact that there is something beside the basis of the coat of arms is not unconstitutional, nor it is against the heraldry rules. I submitted our proposals to dr. Domljan, so he engaged the painter Miroslav Sutej, who made many designs. We met several times with president Tudjman. On one of those meetings dr. Tudjman accepted exactly this proposal for design of the Croatian coat of arms, that was best among the proposed. It was Sutej's failure to let the coat of arms of Dubrovnik in the corwn to differ from the original. maybe to him, as artist it was not of such importance. It is objected that the goat is Italian symbol. The coat of arms of Istria is the coat of arms of Austrian duchy of Istria, much younger then the rest of coat of arms, but it is generally accepted in Istria. The coat of arms of Croatia was also used by all possibly ideologies, from feudalists to reformers, Stjepan Radic [Croatian politician between two WWs], Ustashas, partisans, but that should not mean that it is now unacceptable if most of the people accept it. The oldest preserved red-white coat of arms is the one on Cetina seal of 1st January 1527, when the Croatian Sabor [parliament] adopted Habsburg dynasty [for Croatian kings].The oldest known Croatian coat of arms, the first one in the crown, is the coat of arms of late 12th or early 13th century, preserved on a coin of the Croatian Herzeg [Duke] Andrew, latter to become
Croatian-Hungarian king Andrew II. It is inscribed in the coin Dux Croatiae. I do not know how much it would be wise today to think about the change of the coat of arms with which we have gone through independence struggle and Homeland War. I had different opinions about its contents and how it was designed, but it constitutionality can not be questiopned - said prof. Stancic.

by Željko Heimer, 30 January 2000

[image: flag 36 square fields 1st row: RWRWRW, 2nd row: WRWBWR, 3rd row: BWBWBW] - The Croatian flag according to the idea of Boris Ljubicic

by Željko Heimer, 30 January 2000

The late president Tudjam have choosen the current Croatian coat of arms and the flag among some 30 odd proposals
Željko Heimer, 30 January 2000

Other articles suggested that since Croatia is not a monarchy, it should not have the crown on its coat of arms. Maybe the idea of no coat of arms is a corruption of the idea to remove the crown?
Jonathan Dixon, 1 Febuary 2000

Unofficial Variations of the Croatian Flag

Yesterday we were celebrating our Statehood Day here in Croatia, as one may expect a flag-rich day, and an opportunity for me to check what kind of flags are used. A trip to the centre of Zagreb proved to be useful, and a walking tour in the old town yet more. Here are some of my remarks.

As you may remember, not so long ago I wrote about the flags that were hoisted on the trams during the public holidays, following a larger discussion on the topic. Then I said that such flags were hoisted in the old Yugoslavia day regularly on every holiday, but that since the independence I have not noticed the new Croatian flag hoisted this way.

Since then I had the chance to observe a small detail - the wires on which such flags were hoisted (Yugoslav + Communist party flags) where removed from the left driver's windows, at least in the several trams I was driving in (as I supposed in the previous message).

However, yesterday was the first time (as if they wanted to prove against me) that I saw the small Croatian flags hoisted in that place. They are rectangular now (not triangular, as they were before), and I guess attached to the window in some other way than on the wire. I am glad that someone in the Zagreb traffic company remembered this nice habit.

As one could expect, there were a lot of the regular Croatian flags, much more than the others, that I call under one name "unofficial". I list here examples that I noted - they differ only in the details of the coat of arms. As the Croatian flag is among those that are rather complicated in this matter, it is no wonder that it is so. It is my belief that all these flags were made in the early days of independence i.e. 1990/1991, when the pattern was not officially established, or there were yet not enough official flags on the market, so people acquired what there was available, or what they did themselves. Such flags would be yet in quite good condition, unless they were hoisted all the time (and they were obviously not). Such unofficial flags are seen only on private buildings, and never on the administrative/government buildings - at least here in Zagreb today.

All the flags are, naturally, red-white-blue tricolours with a 25 pieces red-white chequy shield. All of them are in 1:2 ratios, or very close to it. Here is the list of differences:

[Croatia - first unofficial variation]
by Željko Heimer

1. the shield does not touch the edges of the white stripe, the shield has a pointy end like this }
2. same as 1, with an inverted pattern of pieces (i.e. white square first)

[Croatia - third unofficial variation]
by Željko Heimer

3. same as 1, but the shield ends in an elliptical curve )
4. same as 3, with an inverted pattern of pieces

[Croatia - fifth unofficial variation]
by Željko Heimer

5. same as 1, but the shield ends in a semicircular curve
6. same as 5, with an inverted pattern of pieces

[Croatia - seventh unofficial variation]
by Željko Heimer

7. same as 5, the shield has a golden border, above it there is a red-white-blue ribbon in arc

1-6 are variations of the same pattern, probably from different manufacturers, and as far as I am aware, there are no differences in the meaning of those. For the discussion on the order of red-white cheques, see the relevant discussion in these pages.

Number 7 is quite distinct, and I had not seen it until now. I saw the flag from quite close, and it seems that it is a silk-screen printed - which would mean that it was made in large numbers. It is my assumption that this could be a flag manufactured abroad, say in the United States, for the Croatian groups there, and acquired by the owner. If so, then it might be older than 1990.
Željko Heimer, 31 May 1998

Flag with Ustashe-like Shield

[Croatia - seventh unofficial variation]
by Željko Heimer and Zach Harden, 31 December 2004

While looking on the Internet, I stumbled on this website, <>.  This is a variant of the Croatia flag, and from looking deeply, used by the Ustashi supporters.
Zach Harden, 31 December 2004

Indeed this is a flag that could be seen in Croatia relatively often. It is usually used by the politically right-winged supporters, but not necesserily those openly claiming the Ustashe heritage. It is also quite often used in B&H by Croats as kind of a "All-Croatian" national flags (i.e. as nither the flag of the Republic of Croatia nor the flag of former Hezeg-Bosnia).  
It should be noted that this flag is indeed not equal to the Ustashe established flag of Croatia - it does not include the Ustashe party symbol in the canton.  
Anyway, while this is a flag variant used by some and in clear violation of the Croatian law (that prohibits displaying the Croatian flag in any changes, similarly to the legislative heritage of Continental Europe), I do not think that anyone was ever fined for that or that even anyone of officialls thought of doing that. However, unlike other flags in this page that are politically unbiased, this one has clear political message.
Željko Heimer, 1 January 2005

Errorneous Representation of the Croatian Flag

by Željko Heimer, 25 May 2003

by Željko Heimer, 25 May 2003

Here are the two most often errorneous representation of the Croatian flags - as are often found in vexillological literature and otherwise trustworthy sources.
Note that both flags are correct in regards of colours (not difficult) and the coat of arms is here shown almost perfect, even the size is right - however, the vertical position of it is wrong. Both are results of "logic" that the emblem is in the middle. The first one is taken so literally that the rectangle outscribing the coat of arms is centered in the middle of the flag, producing the coat of arms much lower then it should be.
The other probably notices the problem (or by some other reason) and sets the rectangle of the shield only in the center of the flag, so that the top part of the shield enters into the red stripe, getting the coat of arms too much towards the top.
The correct place for the coat of arms is such that the top of the shield matches with the edge of the red and white stripe. At the same time, the top line of the lower row of squares should match the edge between white and blue. I.e. the four rows of squares should be as wide as the white stripe (allowing for the thin white and red border around the shield which is abstarced in this consideration.)
The two incorrect flag are also often to be seen among foreign produced flags on the interational events, even in cases that should know better like visits of Croatian high officials abroad.
Željko Heimer, 25 May 2003

Most of the flasg in Croatia contain the coat of arms in the middle. This is usualy worded in the decisions most unfortunately, so that the middle of the rectangle is very precisely and overwordedly defined, while the center of the coat of arms is left for the reader to decide what they really mean. That would read something like this "the coat fo arms is set so that its center matches the point that is the intersection of the two diagonals connecting the oposite corners of the rectangle forming the flag field" or something like that, as if saying the middle of the flag field could be anything else. On the other hand - what center of the coat of arms did they had in mind - geometrical center (which may not be that easy to establish where it is in a complex shield shape) or the midpoint of the horizontal and vertical axes - i.e. the center of the bounding rectangle. Anyway, as a result, the complicated coat of arms would in practice be obtained as a patch (clipart if you wish) and the centered according the bounding rectangle - even if that is surely not what the legislator had in mind (or did he) - anything else would be less practical.
Željko Heimer, 30 May 2004