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Flags of Esperanto

Esperantaj flagoj

Last modified: 2010-09-19 by antónio martins
Keywords: esperanto | star: 5 points (green) | canton: star | duchois | michaux | sargeant | rjabinis (c.) | deullin (p.) | jonson (b. g.) | beaufront (louis de) | e | jubilea simbolo | ee | verda stelo | contest |
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Esperanto flag
image by António Martins, 16 Mar 2004
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Esperanto accounts for more than 99% of all published material on interlinguistics, and probbably much more than 99% of the speakers of all constructed languages.
António Martins, 04 June 1999

Origin and symbolism of the flag

The Esperanto flag: green 2:3, white 1:1 canton with 0,35 radius green 5 pointed regular star pointing upwards centered on it.
António Martins, 04 Jun 1999

Esperanto organizations and individual esperantists use this flag as a general symbol of their language; variants defaced with organization names and slogans, written on the bottom half of the flag, are usual. Some organizations, especially those whose logo or emblem is based on the green star, put it on the canton of an otherwise unmodified esperanto flag (see particular variants).
António Martins, 14 May 2004

According to [rod97], both a star and the green color were associated to Esperanto quite early, following a call for it from B. G. Jonson, a Swedish Esperantist. Louis de Beaufront (who later become adept of Ido) proposed and initiated the usage of publishing books written in Esperanto with their covers green and with a star on it. The idea caught on and soon the green color and the star symbol were all over in Esperanto written books and periodicals. However nothing was fixed for the exact design of the star neither for its color — it was often golden, on the green background.

In 1893, were used the first lapel pins with a green star on a white background, by C. Rjabinis and P. Deullin, in a design used until today. The meaning of this symbol was, as usual, coined a posteriori — said to stand for the hope (green) of the five continents untited (5-pointed star) in common understanding and peace (white color)…

António Martins, 04 Jun 1999

In the website of the International Esperanto Museum in Wein, Austrian National Archives, there’s a facsimile of a poster inviting to the 2nd World Esperanto Congress, held in Geneva in 1906. It shows the esperanto flag as we know it. This is interesting because the design had been accepted only one year before, at the 1st World Esperanto Congress (1905, Boulogne-sur-Mer, FR).
António Martins, 24 Mar 2005

In Panorama in interlingua 2/1991: p.16 “Ab le archivo” [ial91a] black and white symbols of constructed languages from «our archive» (probably the image sources as for [rod97]?), which I quote: (dates are language publishing, not symbol creation): «Esperanto, 1887»: large outlined star enclosing "esperanto" in arched capitals above smaller (filled) star; both stars are regular starry pentagons (alternating points colinear) pojnting up. Not really the emblem (which never changed), but a quite tacky offshoot variant.
António Martins, 13 Aug 2007

Flag on stamp

The Israeli Postal Authority has issued a stamp in honor of the 120th anniversary of Esperanto (1887-2007). At the bottom of the stamp — actually on the piece attached to the stamp, I don’t know the technical term — is the flag of Esperanto, but in the “large canton” version. The accompanying booklet gives the post-facto explanation [about five continents].
Nathan Lamm, 02 Jan 2007

I’m quite sure that the Israeli stamp now issued is intended to represent the current esperanto flag, perhaps with an oversized canton and surely with the bottom of the flag “bleeding” out from the paper.
António Martins, 03 Jan 2007

Particular variants

Some organizations, especially those whose logo or emblem is based on the green star, put it on the canton of an otherwise unmodified esperanto flag.
António Martins, 14 May 2004


Esperanto flag with cross
image by António Martins, 14 May 2004

Christian esperantists of most denominations use Esperanto’s star defaced with a cross outline in pins and emblems. Some flags show this on the usual canton, with or without lettering in the lower fly.
António Martins, 14 May 2004

Left wingers

Esperanto flag with cross
image by António Martins, 14 May 2004

An exception to this seems to be left wing esperantists, on record for seldom usage of a regular esperanto flag with green star on the white canton of a red flag, instead of green. This may stem from the green star fimbriated red that makes the emblem of SAT (Sennacieca Asocio Tutmonda).
António Martins, 14 May 2004

Star with "E"

Esperanto flag with ''e''
image by António Martins, 16 Mar 2004

Perhaps because the star is a very “plain” logo, easy to confuse especially in black-and-white medium, it is quite often to deface the star with a white upper case "E", of obvious meaning. This however is seldom done in flags, perhaps because the complete design (field, canton and star) is less confuseable than an isolated star.

There are however some cases of flags with "E"-stars, some dating back to the earlier days of Esperanto, as the one above, from a photo taken in the II Esperanto World Congress, in Dresden (Germany), 1908.

António Martins, 16 Mar 2004

Incorrect depictions

As shown in [klj75a]

wrong Esperanto flag
image by António Martins, 04 Jun 2007

A 1975 article in czech vex. magazine Vexilologie 16 p. 180-181, 184 “70 let vlajky Universala Esperanto Aoscio” [klj75a], by Jaroslav Klement (available on line) reports the flag of Esperanto language, 70 years old by then. It is termed the organization flag of the Universal Esperanto Association (which, this being its most representative instance, is but a slight mistake). The article shows and describes unusual specs: A 3:5 ratio, against the official 2:3 of [n9l03]; and canton side only one third of the height, instead of one half — albeit tentatively («rovna 1/3 šířky listu», my emphasis). The differences to naked eye comparing with the usual design are to great not to consider this an error.
António Martins, 04 Jun 2007

As shown in the Lapalisse Flag Museum

wrong Esperanto flag
image by Ivan Sache, 01 Jan 2009

In the a collection of world flags assembled by Priest Legros shown in the castle of La Palice in Lapalisse, France, the flag labelled as of Esperanto has a rectangular canton and the star tilted.
Olivier Touzeau and Ivan Sache, 01 Jan 2009

Apart from the wrong canton and star tilt, the shade of green is way too light. I wonder where the Abbey got hold of this variant, it seems manufactored, there should be more of it around.
António Martins, 01 Sep 2010

Earlier versions

1905 E-o flag
image by António Martins, 14 Mar 2008

Still according to [rod97], the Esperanto flag was approved during the Esperanto Universal Congress, in 1905, held at Boulogne-sur-Mer (France). Originally the flag of the local Esperanto Club, who organized the congress, it had a design similar to the one in current use: The main differences in respect to the current flag are the proportions — it is described as being 120 cm wide and with a top hoist canton of 50×50 cm. Since nothing is said about the height, the image above was made in 9:12, with a 6:6 canton, which more or less coincides with my recollection of old photos. (Star in the current 70% ratio.)
António Martins, 04 Jun 1999

A word of caution about this design, in (6+3):(6+6) ratio: It is my reconstruction based on the description taken from [rod97], and even if it is accurate, it must have been replaced by the current version, in (1+1):(1+2) ratio, very early, for I never saw photographic or other evidence of any significantly different design.
António Martins, 03 Jan 2007

With tricolore stripe

(exact design uncertain)
1905 E-o flag proposal
image by António Martins, 04 Jun 1999

Rodríguez [rod97] says that Duchois, Michaux and Sargeant, main organizers of the congress, considered the adoption of a french tricolor stripe, but soon rejected it. I can see the motive for the refusal (a national, not an international symbol), but not for the proposal! I guess the original club flag lacked this stripe and the image above shows it in the bottom in short of any better idea (though this is more a yugoslavian tricolor…)
António Martins, 04 Jun 1999

The jubilee symbol

Esperanto Jubilee symbol
image by António Martins, 04 Jun 1999

The new jubilee symbol (jubilea simbolo), was chosen in contest by the Universal Esperanto Association while preparing the first centenial of the language, in 1987. Called derogatively by some as the melono (mellon), it was designed by a Brazilian esperantist.

While it was not aimed to replace the green star, this logo grew well outside its original usage scope. Even if today it is half forgotten, it knew a quite wide usage during the 1990’ies, especialy by “modern” Esperantists — while traditionalist ones felt some discontempt towards this new logo, who “menaced” to replace the role of nia kara stelo. Since one of the “behavior” differences between these two groups was the almost complete avoidance of pins, flags and other “eccentric looking” displays by the “modernists” (contrasting with a frequently ridiculous and folkloric ornamentation used by the “traditionalists”, namely in flags), the new symbol was quite seldom used in flags, but some in-betweeners of these two tendences soon adapted the new symbol in the old-style usage, of which the flag design above was one of the main examples. (Note that here I’ve over-simplified the quite complex micro-social situation of the current esperanto-speaking community.)

António Martins, 04 June 1999

Organizations’ flags

Congress flags

Universal Esperanto Congresses are held in a different city yearly since 1905 (with gaps for both World Wars) and since about the mid-1960ies each congress has a logo, usually including local city symbols along with the an Esperanto symbol, host city name and the words "nn-a Universala Kongreso [de Esperanto]" ("nn" standing for the congress serial number; 2007 will be the 92th, in Yokohama). (Full list here.) These logos however almost never made it to flags, somehow; a single exception was the 90th Universal Esperanto Congress, held in 2005 in Vilnius. There may have been other such flags, but this is the only one I ever found.

Universal Esperanto Congresses are the usualy largest gatherings of Esperanto speakers worldwide (typically 2000-4000 participants) and still give place for formal and solemn events more and more missing in other, smaller Esperanto meetings the year round. Even so, an Esperanto flag is an often sighting in venues of any larger speakers’ meeting.

An interesting “tradition” is to have a large Esperanto flag in the background of the solemn opening and closure of these congresses and their youth equivalents, to wich fly is added each year a patch with every new congress logo (earlier, only city name and year). These usualy much smaller in congresses of the iconoclastic and unformal youth: compare this one (of the 61st Esperanto International Youth Congress, in Zakopane, Poland, 2005: detail of the patches) with this behemot (85th Universal Esperanto Congress in 2000, Tel-Aviv)

Incidently, I found examples of such use also in smaller gatherings: At the 38th Brazilian Esperanto Congress in Belo Horizonte, 2003, and at the 58th Congress of the International Railroad Esperanto Federation, in Shanghai, 2006, both with past congress patches stitched to the fly.

António Martins, 24 Jul 2007

World congress in Vilnius, 2005

Vilnius Congress flag
image by António Martins, 24 Jul 2007

A photo (here, here and here) shows the national flag of Lithuania, the flag of Esperanto and a white flag with the logo of the 90th Universal Esperanto Congress, held in 2005 in Vilnius.
António Martins, 24 Jul 2007

SAT — Sennacieca Asocio Tutmonda

SAT flag
image by António Martins, 12 Aug 2008

SAT (Sennacieca Asocio Tutmonda) is a political organization for left-wing esperantists, encompassing all tendences except (until recently) communists (marxist-leninist and maoist sorts). Its usual emblem is a green star fimbriated red.
António Martins, 14 May 2004

This photo shows a congress of SAT in 2004 in Bratislava. It shows the red Esperanto flag with additional lettering "S.A.T." in black capitals above the star, where there seems to be extra white space for it, making me believe that this is specially manufactored to include the lettering, these therefore not being added later on.
António Martins, 12 Aug 2008

Letters inside the star

In this vintage drawing yet another SAT flag, but on an old black-and-white linedraw image, showing an esperanto flag (maybe red, maybe green) with the word "SAT" on the star.
António Martins, 12 Aug 2008

Japanese Esperanto Institute

JEI flag
image by António Martins, 25 Oct 2007

Some Esperanto organizations use the flag in variants defaced with organization names and slogans, written on the bottom half of the flag. Such is the flag of Japana Esperanto-Instituto (Japanese Esperanto Institute, a Japanase non-profit NGO), as seen on the background of a giggling scene of this summer’s Children Esperanto Congress. The exact proportions of this flag may be slightly longer than the official 2:3.
António Martins, 25 Oct 2007

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