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Dictionary of Vexillology: S (Statant - Sword Knot)

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

1) See ‘national colours’.
2) A special mark of distinction carried by some foot regiments of the British Brigade of Guards – but see ‘second colour’ (also 'colour 2)', ‘colours 2)’ and ‘royal standard 3)’).
3) The colours selected by a sub-national entity – particularly if the entity is called a “state” - as representative of that entity (see also ‘state flag 2)’ and ‘sub-national flag’).
4) In US military usage a term, now obsolete, for one of the colours carried by a unit of state militia or volunteers (usually when mustered into federal service) as the second colour along with a national colour of the same design as that used by regiments of the regular army.

See ‘government ensign’ under 'ensign'.

1) A variant of the national flag (or occasionally a completely different design) which is restricted by law or custom (theoretically or actually) to use by a country's government, and can often differ from the national flag by the addition of a coat of arms or emblem – the government flag or federal service flag (see also ‘civil flag’, ‘coat of arms’, ‘emblem, national’ and ‘national flag’, together with ‘government ensign’ and ‘naval ensign’ listed under ‘ensign’).
2) The flag of a territorial sub-division within a country, especially when that subdivision is called a “state”. To avoid confusion with 1) however, such a flag should normally be more precisely referred to as “the flag of the state of” (see also ‘state colours 2)’ state service flag and ‘sub-national flag’).

[three state flags]
From left: State Flag of Lithuania (fotw); State Flag of Peru (fotw); Flag of the State of Tennessee, US (Graham Bartram)

A term describing those flags of particularly (but not exclusively) German or Austrian states - or Lδnder - that are intended for official as opposed to civil use (see also ‘state flag 2)’ and ‘sub-national flag’).

[Federal Service Flag of Germany]
From left: The State Service Flag of Saxony; The Civil Flag of Saxony, Germany; The State Service Flag of Styria; The Civil Flag of Styria, Austria (fotw)

A heavy high mast supported by means of stay cables. Stayed masts are often erected at sea training establishments with proper main and top yards for seamanship training purposes or at yacht clubs, and are fitted with a main yard gaff for the hoisting of an ensign (see also ‘ensign’, ‘gaff’, ‘peak’ and ‘yard’).

(adj) A term for the type of flag, now largely (if not wholly) obsolete, whose fly is extended by a rectangular projection (smaller in width and of varied size) centred on the horizontal meridian of the flag (see also ‘fly’, ‘meridian’ and ‘schwenkel’)
A selection of 19th Century US House Flags (CS)
[stepped flags] [stepped flags] [stepped flags] [stepped flags]

Please note that this is not an established term, but has been introduced by the Editors since no (accurately descriptive) established alternative could be found.

1) In US military usage, the smallest size of national flag flown at army posts - 5 feet (1.5 m) wide by 9 feet 6 inches (2.9 m) long, or half as wide and half as long as a post flag (see also ‘garrison flag’ and ‘post flag’).
2) A smaller size of flag than that laid down for general use, and meant to be flown in stormy weather.
3) See ‘storm warning flag’ below.

In US and some other usage, one of a system of flags and pennants used to warn mariners of severe weather in the area.

1) A long narrow ribbon attached to a flag’s staff, such as those upon which battle honours are inscribed (see also ‘award streamer’, ‘banderole’, ‘battle honour’ and ‘streamer retaining ring’).
2) A term, now obsolete, for a long narrow flag flown from a vessel as decoration (see also ‘masthead pennant 2)’).

An often decorative, ridged band sometimes fitted to the staff of a military colour below the finial, and from which battle streamers are suspended (see also ‘battle honour, ‘colour 2)’, ‘staff 2)’ and ‘streamer 1)’).

(v) A largely nautical term meaning to lower or haul down a flag, particularly (but not exclusively) as a sign of surrender.

A band of colour – whether disposed vertically, horizontally or diagonally – which generally reaches one or more edges of a flag, but which does not cover the whole area.

Please note that the most common heraldic terms used in describing the stripe on a shield or banner of arms are listed separately and/or in Appendix VI, however, it is suggested that suitable a glossary or heraldic dictionary be consulted for further details.

A truncated mast (see also ‘flying line’, and ‘mast 1)’).

Please note that a stumpmast with a fixed yard at the truck giving it a T-shape is common right forward in the bows of those bulk cargo carrying vessels plying the inland waterways of Europe so as to allow for passing under bridges and other overhead obstructions. The taller of this type of mast is also often hinged for lowering to deck level for the same purpose (see also 'truck' and 'yard').

Please note also that the yard arms of the stumpmast often flies several house flags and pennants on flying rods above and below the yard or also on flying lines (see also 'house flag', 'pennant' and 'yard arm')."

A generic term for the flag of any territorial division within a sovereign or independent country or within a federated state, that is subordinate to the national flag of that country or federated state – a constituent state, province, county, municipality or similar (see also ‘civic flag’, ‘national flag’ and ‘state flag 2)’).

Please note however, that the flags of the constituent parts of the UK – those of England, Scotland and Wales – although subordinate to the Union Flag are also national flags under the law. Similar situations may, however, exist in other countries, and the applicable country's laws should be consulted to determine the status of such flags (see also ‘union jack’).

It should be noted also, that in the sub-divisions of some countries – such as the Lδnder of Germany or provinces of Spain – there are variants of the state or provincial flags for civil and official use - but see 'state service flag'.

[subnational flag]
Civil Flag La Rioja

[subnational flag]
Official Flag La Rioja,,Spain (fotw)

The ensign, jack and masthead pennant of a commissioned warship (see ‘ensign’, ‘jack’ and ‘masthead pennant 1)’).

A term used in the British Royal Navy and some others, to describe an ensign larger than the normal daily size that is flown on ships and at naval establishments on Sundays and/or days of national celebration – a ceremonial ensign or flag (see also ‘ceremonial ensign’).

Please note that it this is not to be confused with a flag of ceremony (see also 'indoor flag’ and 'garrison flag').

The ceremony of lowering the ensign and jack particularly (but not exclusively) aboard a warship or naval shore establishment at the local time of sunset or at a specified time at the end of a working day - conducting or making sunset or evening colours (see also ‘colours 5)’ and ‘retreat’).

Human or animal figures placed either side of a shield in a set of armorial bearings - see also Appendix I & Appendix II (also ‘armorial bearings’, ‘coat of arms’ and ‘heraldic beasts’).

The flag of an organization, some aspects of whose authority and/or influence transcend national sovereignty, as in for example, that of the United Nations or European Union (but see also ‘international flag’, ‘Geneva Convention flag’ and ‘safe conduct flag’

See ‘fan’ (also ‘bunting 2)’).
1) A V-shaped cut in the fly of a flag or pennant and forming two points - but see 'double pointed' (also ‘crutch’ ‘fly 1)’ and ‘hussar cut’).
2) A flag or pennant having such a cut in the fly.

[a swallowtail flag]
Naval Ensign of Germany (fotw)

A flag as above, but having a third tail between the other two and so coming to three points at the fly - triple-tailed. (see also ‘tongue(s)’).

[Norway naval ensign - a tongued swallowtail]
Naval Ensign of Norway (CS)

An ancient symbol in the form of an equal-armed cross with each arm continued at a right angle, used (in a clock-wise form) on the presidential flag of Finland and until 1945 as the emblem of the German Nazi Party – a crooked cross or fylfot (see also ‘cross’ and ‘cross of Lorraine’).

[swastika examples]
From left: swastika, The National Flag, Germany 1933-45; The Presidential Standard of Finland (fotw)

See ‘dress knot’.