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Macedonia: The "Sun of Vergina" flag (1992-1995)

Last modified: 2006-06-17 by ivan sache
Keywords: sun: vergina | sun: 16 rays (yellow) | law | construction sheet | controversy | petrov (todor) |
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Macedonia 1992 flag

Flag of Macedonia, 1992-1995 - Image by Željko Heimer, 22 June 2005, after the flag law

See also:

Adoption of the flag

At independence in 1992, the flag of the Socialist Republic of Macedonia was retained until it was replaced with a red flag with the yellow "Sun of Vergina" in the center.
The flag was designed by Todor Petrov.

Željko Heimer, 24 June 2005

The law on the flag

The Act for the Flag of the Republic of Macedonia, 11 July 1992
published in Služben vesnik na Republika Makedonija (Official Gazette of the Republic of Macedonia), 50/92

Article 1.
This act establishes the flag of the Republic of Macedonia.

Article 2.
The flag of the Republic of Macedonia is red with gold-yellow sun. The sun has eight main and eight secondary sunrays, mildly thickened in the first half, alternatively and symmetrically arranged around the sun disc. The main sunrays are emerging from the sun disc, and the final external periphery of the Sun.
The diameter of the sun disc is equal to one seventh of the width of the flag. The proportion between the diameter of the sun disc and the length of the main sunray is one to two, and the proportion between the secondary and the main sunray is seven to eight.
The centre of the Sun coincides with the crossing point of the diagonals of the flag.
The ratio between the width and the length of the flag is one to two.

Article 3.
On the day this act goes into effect, the existing flag of the Republic of Macedonia, which was established with the constitution of the Republic of Macedonia in 1974 cease to be implemented.

Article 4.
This act goes into effect on the eight day of its publishing in the "Official newspaper of the Republic of Macedonia".

English translation provided by the government of Macedonia, forwarded by Christopher Southworth, 23 June 2005

[Construction sheet]

Construction sheet of the 1992 flag of Macedonia - Reconstruction after the law text by Željko Heimer, 24 June 2005

Interpreting the description in the Act, the flag is 56 x 112 units in size, with the total sun diameter of 40 (5/7 H) and the sun disk diameter 8 (1/7 H). The short rays are 7/8 of the long rays, i.e. 14, which is also 1/4 H. The only speculative dimension in the drawing is the diameter of the disks that form the bases of the rays. Making them 2 units seems reasonable, but this may yet be confirmed.

Željko Heimer, 24 June 2005

The controversy on the "Sun of Vergina"

The Greek point of view

Greece protests against the use of "Greek" symbols and names made by Macedonian Government. Among these controversial symbols there is the "Sun of Vergina", which appears in the middle of the Macedonian flag.

The "Sun of Vergina", the emblem of Philip's dynasty, symbolizes the birth of our nation. It was the first time (IVth century BC) that the Greek mainland (city-states and kingdoms) with the same language, culture, and religion were united against the enemies of Asia in one league. At the same time the fractured Greek world grew conscious of its unity. And, in this sense, we have never been apart since then. The "Sun" was excavated in Greece in 1978, and it is sacred to us.

Source: rec.culture.europe: FAQ about Macedonia written according to the Greek point of view

Giuseppe Bottasini, 28 August 1995

Most of the above claims are of course highly controversial. This emblem was found on tomb 2 at Kutlush (to give Vergina its pre ethnically cleansed name). However there is no agreement that this is the tomb of Philip II nor that this emblem (which appears with a variety of numbers of arms) was either the dynastic emblem of the Argeads (the ruling house of Macedonia) or of the country itself. The emblem is not specifically Greek or Macedonian - it is found in the Near East thousands of years before it turns up in Europe and ironically features as a decorative motif on one of the reliefs of Persian Immortal Guardsman found at Darius' palace at Susa.

Andy Fear, 28 August 1995

In the book Handbuch der Ornamentik by F.S. Meyer (Leibniz 1927, reprint Berlin 1997), there is an ornament that is quite similar to the "Sun of Vergina", with this main difference - the 16 rays are not of the same size, eight main rays are "inscribed" into a square (so diagonal rays are longer then horizontal and vertical), while the "minor" 8 are shorter and inscribed into a circle. The ornament is captioned Uraniskus einer griechischen Deckenkassette. Propyläen in Athen.

Željko Heimer, 12 September 1999

The Macedonian point of view

Citation of an interview to Kiro Gligorov, President of FYROM (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia), about the national flag:

Q: In the quarrel with Greece, what is more important: the name of the State (that Greece wants to contain no reference to "Macedonia") or the flag (Greece does not like it because it contains the "Sun of Vergina", a symbol related to Alexander the Great)?
A: The name of the State.
Q: Therefore you are ready to change the flag.
A: We can try to make an agreement on anything but the name of the State.

Source: Limes 3/95, quoted by Giuseppe Bottasini, 28 August 1995

The final agreement

Greece recognizes Macedonia's sovereignty and will lift its embargo, while Macedonia will change its flag and amend its Constitution to stress that it has no claims on Greek territory.
Greece and Macedonia have 30 days to implement these measures, and the agreement will remain in effect for seven years or until a definitive accord is signed.

Source: OMRI, 14 September 1995, quoted by Jan Oskar Engene, 15 September 1995

Here is the relevant bit of the interim agreement between Greece and Macedonia in which Macedonia agrees to give up its flag:

Article 7, Paragraph 2.
Upon entry into force of this Interim Accord, the Party of the Second Part [Macedonia] shall cease to use in any way the symbol [the "Sun of Vergina"] in all its forms displayed on its national flag prior to such entry into force.

Josh Fruhlinger, 17 September 1995