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Dictionary of Vexillology: T (Tab - Type Flag)

Last modified: 2006-09-30 by phil nelson
Keywords: vexillological terms |
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A small piece of leather sewn into the sleeve of a flag fastened to a screw head protruding from the staff, and designed to keep an indoor flag, parade flag or military colour from slipping (see also ‘colour 2)’ and ‘sleeve 2)’).

Please note that this is an alternative to a grommet and clip or decorative nails as methods of fixing a parade flag or military colour to its staff. It should be noted also however, that the practice of tying a parade flag or military colour to its staff, or affixing it with metal rings, is not entirely obsolete (see also ‘ties’).

1) In US army usage, a trumpet banner - see ‘bannerette’.
2) The formal surcoat worn by a herald on ceremonial occasions, and emblazoned with those arms appropriate to the particular office involved (see also ‘coat of arms 2)’).

A small flag, frequently mounted on a cross bar whose staff and stand make it suitable for display on a desk or podium – a desk flag (see also ‘handwaver’).

A piece of halyard with Inglefield clips at both ends which is used to separate different signal hoists on the same halyard (see also ‘halyard’, ‘hoist 2)’ and ‘Inglefield clips’).

See ‘tongue(s)’.

A term for the Arabic inscription Allahu Akbar or “God is Great” that has appeared on several Arab Flags and can currently be seen on those of Iran and Iraq (see also ‘shahada’).

[Iraq - Takbir example]
National Flag of Iraq (fotw)

A metal implement attached to a flagpole (particularly one set at an angle from a building) that clasps a flag and prevents it wrapping itself around the pole (see also ‘flag pole’ and ‘outrigger pole’).

A decoration of twisted fabric or metal, often surrounding a wooden core and hanging from a cord, attached to a staff or directly onto a flag – especially a colour or parade flag (see also ‘colour 2)’, ‘cord 1)’ and ‘parade flag’).

See 'semaphore 2)'.

See ‘archivexillum’.

A heraldic term for the colour orange (see also ‘Appendix III’ and ‘rule of tincture’).

A Buddhist prayer flag or wall hanging that depicts scenes from the life and teachings of the Buddha (see also ‘prayer flag’ and ‘religious flag’).

Pieces of fabric or lengths of ribbon used in the largely (but not entirely) obsolete practice of tying a flag to its staff or mast.

Please note that the increasingly (but by no means entirely) obsolete practice of cutting the sleeve of a military colour or parade flag into separate sections (with gaps in between) is almost certainly based on the earlier use of ties (see also ‘sleeve 2)’).

The heraldic term for the colours, metals and furs used on a shield or banner of arms (see 'Appendix III').

An oval-shaped wood or plastic cross-piece attached to a hoist-line sewn into the heading of a flag, that fastens to a becket or eyesplice at the upper end of the halyard for hoisting the flag on a mast or pole (see also ‘becket’, ‘halyard’, ‘heading’, ‘hoistline’ plus ‘toggle and eyesplice’).

One or more horizontal projections of varying or even size either triangular, or straight-sided with rounded or squared ends, and extending from the fly of a flag - tails (see also ‘fly 1)’, 'gonfalon', ‘gonfanon’, 'multi-tailed', ‘pallia’, ‘palm’, ‘schwenkel’, 'square-tongued', ‘swallow-tail(ed)’ and ‘swallowtail and tongue’).

A heraldic wreath - see ‘wreath 2)’.

see 'Tugh 2)'.
See ‘banner 3)’.

1) In UK military and some other usage, a term for marching with a colour or flag dragging on the ground, or standing in that position, and is employed as a mark of respect to the head of state at funerals or as a token of victory in a parade of captured enemy colours – but see ‘vailing’ (also ‘dipping 1)’).
2) An uncommon method of saluting using a flag hoisted on a pole - the flag is lowered until it just touches the ground for a few seconds, and then raised smartly - practiced in some monarchies as a salute to a member of the royal family.

A medieval term, now obsolete, for a banner on a crossbar.

A charge similar to a triangle but with the apex squared, as in the flag of Kuwait (see also ‘triangle’).

[Kuwait - Trapezium example]
National Flag of Kuwait (fotw)

An almost invariably horizontal charge whose apex lies along the meridian, and which may extend up to or slightly exceeding one-half the length of a flag, but whose base usually occupies the full width of the hoist. When the base is parallel to the lower edge of a flag it may be called an ‘upright triangle’, but in this latter case that base generally occupies only a proportion of a flag’s length (see also ‘meridian’).

[Triangle example]
From left: National Flag of Djibouti (fotw); National Flag of St Lucia

Please note, however, that a triangle whose apex and base touch opposite edges of the flag should be considered a pile (see also ‘pile’).

1) A flag of three stripes or bands but using only two colours (whether disposed vertically, horizontally or diagonally) and whether defaced or plain (see also ‘deface’ and ‘stripe’).
2) An undefaced flag with three equal parallel stripes or bands using two colours – a simple triband.

[Triband example]
National Flag of Nigeria (fotw)

[Triband example]
Flag of Andalusia, Spain

[Triband example]
Flag of Parana, Brazil

Please note that the Editors have drawn a distinction between flags with three stripes and three colours and those having three stripes and only two colours, with the definitions for tricolour and triband having been carefully drawn up using all available sources.

A term sometimes applied to a flag of three stripes.

Please note however, before using this term it is suggested that the entry on bar in Appendix VI and/or a suitable glossary or heraldic dictionary be consulted.

See ‘tricolour 3)’ below.

1) A flag of three stripes or bands in three different colours (whether disposed vertically, horizontally or diagonally), and whether defaced or plain (see also ‘stripe’).
2) An undefaced flag with three equal parallel stripes or bands of different colours – a simple tricolour.
3) The French national flag - le tricolore or that of the Netherlands - the driekleur.

[Tricolor example]
From left: National Flag of France (CS); National Flag of Ecuador (fotw); National Flag of the Republic of Congo (CS)

Please note that the definition of tricolour (as given herein) is restricted to flags of three colours disposed in three stripes, and that flags that do not fall into this category are defined elsewhere. Please note also, that the Editors have drawn a distinction between flags with three stripes and three colours, and those consisting of three stripes but only two colours, with the definitions for tricolour and triband having been carefully drawn up using all available sources.

A charge, particularly (but not exclusively) a cross, divided longitudinally into three parts in three different colours, as in the flag of Dominica.

[Dominica - Tripartite example]
National Flag of Dominica (fotw)

See ‘swallow-tail and tongue’.

(adj) A term used to describe a fly that is cut into three tails with rounded ends (see also ‘double-tailed descate’, ‘fly’, ‘gonfanon’, ‘guidon 2)’, ‘standard 4)’, ‘swallowtail’, ‘swallowtail and tongue’ and 'tongue(s)).

[Triple-tailed descate example]

An originally mystical sign of ancient origin that consists of three symbols emanating from a central point, and of which the three-legged symbol on the flag of the Island of Man is almost certainly an adaptation.

[Triskelion example]
From left; Flag of the Isle of Man, UK (Martin Grieve); Sicilian; Celtic

A military ceremony at which the colour is marched past assembled troops (see also ‘colour 2)’ and ‘colours 2)’).

A flag captured in battle and displayed as a trophy.

1) The wooden block or metal plate at the top of a flagpole (or mast) below the finial, which includes a pulley (sheaved block) or a hole for the halyard - often incorrectly used as a synonym for the ball or other finial at the top of that flagpole (see also ‘Appendix I, ‘finial’, ‘flag pole’, ‘halyard’ and ‘sheaved block’).
2) A short pole flexibly mounted on top of a mast for the flying of a flag or pennant at sea and ashore – a pigstick (see also 'masthead, at the').

See ‘bannerette’.

A tuft of hair, feathers or other similar materials used in the same manner as a flag (see also ‘vexilloid 1)’).

Please note that the term is taken from the ancient Roman tufa which is considered to have been a helmet crest, and to have been adopted in Britain as the tuuf.

1) An Ottoman vexilloid, now obsolete, of Mongoloid/Turkic origin that symbolized civil or military authority, and consisted of a number of yak or horsetails at the top of a staff (see also ‘horsetail’, ‘standard 5)’ and ‘vexilloid 2)’).
2) A term for the standard, now obsolete, of certain regiments of French cavalry - the Spahis originally raised from North African tribesmen – a toug (see also ‘horsetail’ and ‘standard2)’).

Please note that the schellenbaum in use by German Army bands and some others, although also descended from the Ottoman horsetail standard, is a musical instrument and not a vexilloid.


A model of pattern and colour, often fixed by law, after which actual flags are manufactured (see also ‘specification’).