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Dictionary of Vexillology: D (Dancetty - Drum Banner)

Last modified: 2006-09-30 by phil nelson
Keywords: vexillological terms |
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See ‘serrated’.

Literally “Danish-cloth”, and the current national flag of Denmark.

National Flag of Denmark (fotw)

(adj) A generally employed Latin term for ‘in practice’, and used in vexillology to indicate flags in actual use as opposed to those as laid down by law or regulation (see also ‘de jure’ and the note below).

(adj) A generally employed Latin term for ‘in law’, and used in vexillology to indicate a flag as laid down by law or regulation, as opposed to those in actual use (see also ‘de facto’ and the note below).

Please note that an example of de jure as opposed to de facto is the proportions of the Belgian national flag which is regulated at 13:15, but which is most often see in practice with a ratio of 2:3.

A term for the custom of foot guards in British and Canadian service of placing a garland or chaplet of laurel – a crown triumphal - at the top of the regimental colour pike or staff on days of significance in regimental history (see also ‘colour 2), ‘colours 2)’, ‘crown triumphal’, ‘garland’, ‘pike’, ‘staff 2)’ and ‘wreath of immortelles’).

See ‘paying off pennant’.

(v) To add any authorised emblem, badge, shield, charge or device to a flag (see also ‘badge’, ‘charge’, 'device', ‘emblem’ and ‘shield’).

Please note that in heraldry and vexillology the term has no pejorative connotation (but see also ‘desecrate’ and disfigure).

See ‘banner 3)’.
(adj) A term used to describe a rounded (or lanceolate) fly into which a ‘V’ shaped notch has been cut – cloven descate (see also ‘fly’, ‘guidon 2)’, ‘lanceolate’, ‘pennant’ and ‘swallow tail(ed)’).

[descate flag]
Descate (CS)

1) (v) To maliciously damage or mistreat a flag for political or other motives, or to use a flag in a way that is considered disrespectful or inappropriate (see also ‘rules of respect’ and ‘Appendix II’).
2) See ‘disfigure’.

A diagonal stripe that runs from the upper hoist to the lower fly, and is centred on the corners of the flag – a bend. See also ‘ascending diagona;’, ‘bend’ in Appendix VI (also ‘east-west diagonal’, ‘north-south diagonal’, ‘south-north diagonal’ and ‘west-east diagonal’).

[descending diagonal flag]
Flag of Para, Brazil (fotw)

1) (v) To maliciously damage or mistreat a flag for political or other motives, or to use a flag in a way that is considered disrespectful or inappropriate (see also ‘rules of respect’ and ‘Appendix II’).
2) See ‘disfigure’.

See ‘table flag’.

The term describing a custom whereby the flag of the country of destination is flown at the fore by a merchant ship or pleasure vessel as a matter of courtesy when about to sail (see also ‘fore’).

1) Originally a heraldic term for a temporary mark extra to the coat of arms to distinguish those who entered the lists at tournaments, it now refers specifically to the ‘motto (see ‘motto’).
2) A term sometimes inaccurately applied to a charge, badge or emblem (see also ‘badge’, ‘charge’ and ‘emblem’).

The heraldic term for the right hand side of a flag or shield from the point of view of the bearer, or the left hand side from the point of view of an observer (see also ‘sinister’).

A triangular flag usually containing seven red over white horizontal stripes whose lower edge is at right angles to the hoist, and symbolic of Hinduism (see also ‘religious flag’).

[Hindu dhvaja]
Dhvaja of the Hindus (CS)

Please note that the word is sometimes pronounced as d’vahjah, but that other pronunciations exist.

1) (v) On flags, to create a variation of another flag, either by changing one or more colours, or by adding or removing a charge. Usually done to indicate close cultural, historical, or geographic ties as in, for example, the flag of Italy was differenced from that of France by changing the blue stripe to green, or to differentiate between the various grades of senior officer in the armed services (see also ‘archivexillum’, ‘core flag’, ‘flag family’ and ‘rank flag’).
2) In heraldry, see ‘cadency, mark of’.

National flag of Russian (fotw); Civil Ensign of Slovenia (fotw); National Flag of Bulgaria (fotw)

The actual measured size of a flag, or of a charge thereon, as opposed to its proportions (see also ‘proportions’).

example of dimensions

(adj) The heraldic term for a charge or charges, such as animals, birds (particularly eagles) or fleur-de-lis,forming part of a coat of arms, or an entire coat of arms as defined herein, which are halved along the vertical centre line – but see ‘conjoined’ (also ‘coat of arms 2)’, ‘entire’ and ‘impale’).

[dimidated flags]
From left: Flag of Nysa, Poland (fotw); Flag of the Cinque Ports, UK (Martin Grieve)

Please note, however, that where two sets of dimidiated arms or any elements thereof are set side by side (as illustrated above), in heraldic terms they are said to be ‘impaled by dimidiation’, and that (whilst this is often the case) one dimidiated charge, or set of dimidiated arms, need not necessarily (as per the example below) be set beside another so halved (see also ‘conjoined’).

[dimidated flags]
Flag of Geneva, Switzerland (fotw)

See ‘dimidiated’ and following note above.

The practice, almost certainly obsolete, of flying a white flag from the starboard yardarm (or spreader) of a vessel when the owner is dining, and from the port yardarm when the crew are at meals – but see also ‘meal pennant 2)’.

1) On parade, a method of saluting with a flag in which the staff is lowered by inclining the staff forward then returning it to the original upright position, with the degree of such lowering being governed by national regulations or custom, and ranging from a slight inclination to dropping the head of the staff all the way to the ground or vailing – see ‘vailing’ (also ‘colour 2)’, ‘colours 2)’, 'parade flag', ‘pike’, ‘staff 2)’ and ‘trailing 1’). When multiple flags are carried, which (if any) are dipped in salute generally depends on the status of the person or entity being saluted, dipping customs vary widely, however, and in some countries, the national flag is never dipped, while in others it may be dipped in salute to a head of state or other specified high dignitaries.
2) (v) At sea, a method of saluting with a flag whereby the ensign is lowered about one width from the truck of the ensign staff (or one-third the length of the halyard if flying at the gaff or yardarm) and then re-hoisted to its original position (see also ‘ensign’, ‘ensign staff’, ‘gaff’, ‘halyard’. and ‘yardarm’).
3) See ‘trailing’.

Please note that a warship will never dip its ensign to another vessel (whether warship or merchantman) but will invariably return the salute when offered by a merchant vessel - a courtesy that (whilst formerly given as a matter of course) is rarely seen today – and that that warships only return salutes from the ships of countries recognized by their own government. Saluting between warships not wearing the flag of a flag officer or a broad pennant is carried out by bosun’s call or bugle, and when flag officers meet at sea they salute each other with the appropriate number of guns, although usually only by prior arrangement (see also 'flag of command', ‘flag officer’, ‘gun salute’ and ‘private ship’).

Please note also, that at sea a manoeuvring signal will be dipped by the flagship when it has been acknowledged, and signifies that the signal is to be executed, however, an answering pennant flown at the dip in response to a hoist from the flagship, indicates that the signal is not understood - an answering pennant flown close-up confirms that the signal has been received and understood (see also ‘close-up’, ‘hoist 2)’ and ‘signal flag’).

A circular area of single colour used as a charge (see also ‘charge’ and ‘roundel 2)’).

Please note that a disc is called a roundel in heraldry.

(v) To add any unauthorised charge, device or wording to the field of a flag, particularly when it is of an insulting or pejorative nature (see also ‘charge’, ‘desecrate’ and ‘device’ and compare with ‘deface’).
See ‘hoistline’.

See ‘privateer jack’.

1) The flag of a civil position within a governmental structure, as opposed to that signifying military rank, as in for example, the distinguishing flag of a Government minister.
2) An alternative term for a rank flag (see also ‘rank flag’).
3) In US Air Force and Marine Corps usage, a flag denoting an officer's rank – see ‘individual flag’ (also ‘flag of command’ ‘personal flag 3)’ and ‘rank flag 1)’).
4) In US military usage, the flag of a command or organization not authorized to bear colours.

[distinguishing flags]
From left: Minister of Defence, Argentina; Secretary for Defence US; Minister of Defence Sweden (fotw)

Please note, that although these terms are sometimes considered interchangeable, the Editors have drawn a general distinction between the command flags used by senior naval officers, the rank flags employed by officers from the other armed services, the distinguishing flags of civilians and with personal flags.

In the international Convention on the Law of the Sea, it is a mark identifying a vessel's status as a warship or government owned ship operated for non-commercial purposes, of a sovereign state.

Please note that this distinguishing mark is invariably the ship's ensign, to lesser extent the masthead pennant and in some cases also the jack (see also 'ensign' 'jack' ‘masthead pennant 1)’) and ‘suit of colours’).

1) Flag A (Alpha or Alfa) in the International Code of Signals, signifying that the vessel flying the flag has a diver down and that vessels approaching should keep well clear and proceed at slow speed (see also ‘International Code of Signal Flags’ and ‘signal flag’).
2) In US and some other usage, a red flag with a white descending diagonal stripe indicating that divers are below the surface in the immediate vicinity of the flag.

[diver below flags]
Signal Flag Alpha (CS)

[diver below flags]
Unofficial Warning Flag (CS)

Please note however, that while often referred to as unofficial, use of 2) is required by law in most US states, and by law or regulation in some other countries.

See ‘golden mean’.

See ‘Appendix VII’.

A term for that variation of the swallow-tailed flag where a vertical section appears in the centre of the fly (see also ‘swallow-tail(ed)’).

[Denmark naval/state flag - double pointed]
The State Flag/Naval Ensign of Denmark (fotw)

A 17th Century Dutch naval flag usually of six even, horizontal stripes in the Dutch national colours repeated.

[double prince]
Double Prince C1660 (CS)

Please note however, whilst all available evidence suggests that red, white and blue were employed, orange instead of red may have been used at an earlier stage.

(adj) A term used to describe a fly that is cut into two tails with rounded ends – a cloven bullnose (see also ‘fly’, ‘gonfanon’, ‘guidon 2)’, ‘multi-tailed descate’, ‘standard 4)’, ‘swallowtail’ and ‘triple-tailed descate’).

[double tailed descate]
Double-Tailed Descate (CS)

A Roman military flag formed like a windsock whose open end was fixed to a dragon’s head with gaping silver jaws (see also ‘dragon flag’ and ‘windsock’).

A bearer of the draco.

A pre-heraldic flag similar to the Roman Draco formed like a windsock, with a dragon’s head/shape, and possibly having a whistling tube within it (see also ‘draco’, ‘pre-heraldic’, 'standard 6)' and ‘windsock’).

Please note, it is suggested by some authorities that the main standard used by the Saxons at the Battle of Hastings (in 1066) was of this type.

(v) The decoration of a staff with a black cravat or long black ribbons (particularly but not exclusively on flags that cannot be half-masted) as a sign of mourning – but see ‘cravat 2)’ (also ‘cravat 1’, ‘half-masted’ and ‘staff 2)’).

See ‘tricolour 3)’.
See ‘indoor flag’.

A decorative knot of cord, possibly displaying the national colours or braided in gold with blue thread, and attached to the sword – a port epee or sword knot.

1) (v) The practice of decorating a vessel for special occasions, such as national days, whilst berthed alongside or at anchor, by stringing dressing lines between the masts (and down to the ensign and jack staffs), and with national flags at the mastheads - dressing ship, dressing overall or full dressing (see also 'national flag', 'dressing lines' 'ensign staff', 'jack staff' and 'masthead').
2) (v) In US naval usage, the practice of decorating a warship during lesser commemorative occasions, whilst berthed alongside or at anchor, by displaying the ensign and jack together with an ensign at each masthead, but without the dressing lines used for 'dressing overall' (see also 'dressing lines', 'masthead', 'naval ensign' under 'ensign' and 'naval jack' under 'jack').
3) (v) In British and other naval usage, the practice of decorating a warship with jack, ensign and masthead flags/ensign(s) but without the dressing lines, when underway within sight of a port or anchorage during dress ship occasions.
4) (v) The practice of merchant vessels (especially passenger liners) and yachts to decorate themselves with strings of dressing lines on special occasions such as maiden voyage departure and arrival, or other occasions ordered by the shipping company or club.

Please note that warships not directly involved in the occasion being celebrated, but who are berthed in the presence or in sight of ships that are, will also dress as a courtesy according to the local practice, using the ensign or national flag of the celebrant at the main masthead in lieu of their own ensign or national flag.

Please note also that this is a continuation of the earlier maritime practice (dating from at least the 16th Century) of hanging out every flag available by way of celebration, but that in modern navies and some merchant marine companies both the occasions for display and the make-up of dressing lines is strictly regulated (with this last being confined to signal flags only).

Signal flags and pennants made up in decorative strings according to the size and configuration of ship they are to be used on and also according to ordered patterns laid down by naval authorities in the case of warships, or commercial companies in the case of merchant vessels – rainbow lines (see also ‘dress ship’).

See ‘dress ship’.

See ‘bannerette’ and ‘war banner’.