Last modified: 2006-06-09 by ian macdonald
Keywords: vanuatu | new hebrides | nouvelles-hébrides | fern | leaves | boar’s tusk | francophonie |
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by Željko Heimer, 17 August 2003
Flag adopted 18th February 1980, coat-of-arms adopted 30th July 1980
At the British Columbia 1994 Commonwealth Games page I read:
"crossed leaves of the namele fern (peace) are within a boar's tusk (wealth and prosperity) on a black triangular field along the hoist; red and green are the other colours"The boar's tusk is a symbol of prosperity because (1) pigs are wealth (2) in the latter stages of getting the tusk to grow in a spiral the pig has to be hand fed, and you need status and wealth to have both the pig feeder and the food which are necessary.
The boar's tusk is apparently used as a pendant by the islanders. They remove the boar's upper tusks, which causes the lower tusks to grow in a circle (from National Geographic, December 1970).
Nathan Augustine, 4 March 1996
Ivan Sache, 16 July 1999
What is namele? A fern or a palm? It's certainly not the palm species
Phoenix sylvestris identified by
(1999), as this is the Asian variant of the date palm, which does not
grow in Vanuatu. On the other hand, the fact that some do identify the namele as
"fern" (Crampton 1991) and some as "palm" (Herzog
& Hannes 1990, Hesmer 1992)does give the
impression, it might be a "palm fern". Indeed there is a plant group that is
referred by this name, the
Cycadales, a group of gymnosperm plants (like coniferous trees) "frequently
confused with and mistaken for palms or ferns".
If you google for namele pictures, you find for instance http://www.positiveearth.org/vpai/loru_protected_area.htm where namele is clearly identified as a cycad. At the Australian "Cycad Pages" one can find two species that occur in the south-west Pacific, namely Cycas seemannii and Cycas bougainvilleana. C. seemannii is found in Vanuatu (obviously the only cycad there). A local name mentioned for Eromanga island (part of Vanuatu) is "No-moll", which looks close to "namele". So I suggest as identification of the plant leaves in the Vanuatu flag and arms: Cycas seemannii
Marcus E.V. Schm÷ger, 6 September 2005
Symbolism of the colours:
The Vanuatu A-Z Visitors Guide says:
"A competition was held and won by Kalontas Mahlon from Emau Island (Kalantos works in Vila Handprints)."
Source: http://www.vanuatuatoz.com/f.html, entry Flag.
Emau Island is a tiny island located east off Efate, the island on which Port-Vila, the capital city of Vanuatu, is located. Note that the former district of Efat was called Efate and other minor islands.
Ivan Sache, 30 April 2003
http://www.vmdaily.ru/main/viewarticle.php?id=19274 is written (in Russian),
that the author of the flag and of the coat of arms of Vanuatu is artist Mr.
Nikolay Mishutushkin, the son of Ataman of the Terek Cossack Army, who emigrated
to the New Hebrides after the Civil War in Russia. Is there any validity to
Mikhail Revnivtsev, 21 December 2005
19:36 image by Željko Heimer, 17 August 2003
National Flag. CSW/CS- 19:36 (39+6+5+6+39):(84+96)
Red over green bicolour with black triangle at hoist containing a yellow border that is fimbriated black and extends in horizontal line towards fly, the triangle contains yellow boar husk and two fern leaves within.
Željko Heimer, 17 August 2003
The flag pictured in the official annex of the law shows the flag with
proportion 3:5 but according to the document issued by the premier's bureau
concerning the dimensions of the flag, the official proportion is 19:36
(180:95). The length of the triangle must be 84 (using a flag length of 180),
the yellow is 5 and fimbriations 6 each. The upper and lower parts have heights
of 39 units.
Jaume OllÚ, 14 August 2003
Several sources give 11:18 for dimensions - the reason is not quite clear to me,
one possibility is it a mathematical error that has been repeated. A good
rhetorical question is why did they choose these odd numbers? What was wrong
with pure and simple 3:5, or even 10:19? The manufacturers will surely ignore
the fact and produce whatever they like most - 1:2, 2:3, 3:5, and the government
will hardly be able to follow its own regulation (except if they decide to buy
flags by order that would make them much more expensive).
Željko Heimer, 15 August 2003
image by Željko Heimer, 17 August 2003
My construction shows 39 pairs of needles on each leaf - all the drawings that I
have seen, official or otherwise, have different representations of the leaves
but usually they are too small to be certain about any level of details. The
needles are sometimes even drawn as little leaves, something that certainly is
not supposed to be, but on a small blurred image even in the official
publication this may not matter.
Željko Heimer, 15 August 2003
Alvin Helms asked, "Why would the flag of Vanuatu (a Pacific island chain) be flying at Port Canaveral (a United States city, on the Atlantic ocean)?" Vanuatu is one of the top ten flags of convenience if I remember correctly. I got this information from one of Britain's big flag makers who regularly has to make Vanuatu flags for ships, far more than you would expect for one of the world's smallest countries.
Graham Bartram, 13 December 1999
image by Ivan Sache
The goofed flag shown on the Flags of Paradise 1996 chart, with a two-branch yellow Y (the two disconnected branches being separated by a large black stripe connected to the black triangle).
Ivan Sache, 16 July 1999
Browsing in Internet I found this image with an unidentified flag left of the national flag.
Falko Schmidt, 10 November 2001
That photograph appears in this page [broken link] about the celebration of Vanuatu's independence day in August 2000, where
(among other events) the "Independence Day Flag Raising Ceremony" is described (somewhat funnily). The pictures illustrating this ceremony include the above image and this one but no mention about flags. The ceremony was attended by "VMF [Vanuatu Mobile Force, sort of Vanuatu army], the Police, the Royal Australian Navy Band, the Newcastle crew, the French Army contingent, the Scouts, and the Girl Guides" so some of these flags might belong to those groups.
Santiago Dotor, 10 November 2001
I recently received Lupant 1991, a book on Vanuatu flags. This book shows many flags of Vanuatu, from the colonial era, the time of independence and the present, and includes provincial flags. The book also shows the flag of Tanna, but according to this information, it is the same (or very similar, because the shade of blue is lighter) as the flag of the Vemerana Federation - a blue background with a green star in the center. But this is very strange: I saw the originally manufactured flag of Tanna on TV and around the star was a yellow circle (I posted the image some time ago). I think that the flag attributed to Tanna is only a proposal, a previous flag, or a mistake, because I'm sure that at the time of independence the flags (I know three patterns) hoisted included a yellow circle.
Jaume Ollé, 16 January 1997