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Donkerbroek (The Netherlands)

Ooststellingwerf municipality, Fryslân province

Last modified: 2014-06-28 by andrew weeks
Keywords: donkerbroek | griffin |
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[Donkerbroek villageflag] by Jarig Bakker, 12 Aug 2005
Design: P. Bultsma See also:

Donkerbroek village

Donkerbroek (meaning: dark brook) is a village in Ooststellingwerf municipality in Fryslân province, with (1958) 1946; (1974) 1582 inhabitants, with the small hamlets of Petersburg, Moskou, Leidijk, Het Hogezand, and Het Koeland. Although Ooststellingwerf has its own dialect (closely related to Low German), 86 % of the Donkerbroekers speak Frisian. The little industry of the dairy-factory and the Artificial Insemination station have been dissolved, while also the re-allotment did not promote a population-explosion.
Nickname: "Takkemigers" (branch-handwashing) - Donkerbroek is in a forested environment, and the inhabitants were known to do what they had to do in the forest.
Coat of Arms: in green a gold chevron, with lefttop a silver ramshead, and in base a square fortress of gold, surrounding a green field; the plan of the fortress is parallel to shield-top; a border of counter-ermine and a free quarter of silver, on which a red griffin facing sinister; between the feet a red ball, on which a sixpointed golden star.
Flag: Three stripes of green and yellow, proportioned 2:1:2, with a black hoisttriangle, charged with a red griffin.
The name Donkerbroek means: dark marsh or mound in a marsh. The division of the shield points at that. Counter-ermine represents dark marsh, with the white cotton-grass, which grew on it. The green field and the ram's head symbolize the agricultural character of the village. The ram's head also symbolizes the old dike, named the "Schaopedrift". That dike does still exist, which in olden times ran through heatherfields. The yellow chevron symbolizes the old military road. The village was built on both sides of it. The fortress (schans, schaan in Stellingwerfs) is the Breebargschans which was at the end of the 16th century built by Ús Heit (Prince Willem Lodewijk) to protect us form the Spaniards in Grins.
The relationship with the municipality is represented by the canton with the griffin.
The flag is a simplification of the arms. The griffin shows that Donkerbroek is an Ooststellingwerf village, even though it is on the wrong side of the mighty Kuinder river.
Design: P. Bultsma
Source: Genealogysk Jierboekje 1980.
Encyclopedie van Friesland, 1958.
Jarig Bakker, 20 Sep 2003

Griffins (or gryphons) have the front parts of an eagle and the hind parts of a lion, with all feet matching the eagle's feet.. These are almost always found winged. In Britain, however, the term "male griffin" is used for a wingless griffin which looks similar to the European heraldic "panther". In both cases the body is feathered on the chest and furred on the back and tail.
James Dignan, 21 Sep 2003

Therefore the Russians not only copied the Dutch flag, they also borrowed Friesian village names for their cities :-)
The white cotton-grass is of course not cotton plant (unless the Americans borrowed it and acclimatized it in Louisiana) but a member of the genus Eriophorum, family Cyperaceae (sedges). The name Eriophorum means in Ancient Greek "wool-bearing". These plants are called in French "linaigrette" or "jonc à coton" (cotton sedge). There are several European species of Eriophorum, all of them living in marshes and peat bogs.
Ivan Sache, 21 Sep 2003

I went to the original flagchart I scanned for the Shipmate image of the Ooststellingwerf flag. The top half of the griffin is of an eagle, the bottom half of a lion; the wings are feathered, not scaled.
In "De Grijpvogel", a collection of stories from the Stellingwerven, is a description of the griffin:
"The upperpart of the body is of an eagle, the lower part of a lion. Before the grifin came to the Stellingwerven the lower part of the body was of a bull. It is known for its sagacity, power, judgment, care, and insight. The eagle's brain is matched to the lion's power. It is stronger than most other animals, except for the lion and the elephant. Its colors are beautiful: On its back are jet-black feathers. Its breast is red. It has white feathers and glowing blue neck-feathers. Its eyes are fiery coals. It lives invisisible in lindentrees. It is the child of the Teutonic goddess Frya. It lives in the lindentree, because there of old law was administered.
Every first Friday of the month it leaves the lindentree, spreads its mighty wings and flies over all the Stellingwerf lands. Nothing escapes its sharp eyes. In the old days it was more active: during every court-session it flew over the place where judgment took place, and that is why in the Coat of Arms of Oost- and Weststellingwerf the seal of the wise judge Solomon was placed under his body: a double silver triangle in a red ball. It is said that he can influence the wheather, ward off calamities, such as the invasion of Bomm'n Berend (Bernhard van Galen, Bishop of Münster) in 1673.
Jarig Bakker, 26 Sep 2003

Donkerbroek Coat of Arms

[Donkerbroek Coat of Arms]  by Jarig Bakker, 12 Aug 2005, after image in Genealogysk Jierboekje 1980.