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Dictionary of Vexillology: R (Race Signals - Rays)

Last modified: 2014-12-20 by rob raeside
Keywords: vexillological terms |
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Those flags flown by a racing committee, and used to signal conditions, intentions or instructions to race competitors (see also ‘international code of signal flags’, ‘preparatory flag’, ‘prize flag’ and ‘racing flag 1)’).

race signal flag race signal flag race signal flag 
Individual and General Recall - Flag X (X-Ray) and First Substitute in the ICS; Disqualified (fotw and CS)

1) A flag flown from a yacht that is taking part in a race, and struck if it withdraws or when it crosses the finish line (see also ‘preparatory flag’, ‘prize flag’, ‘race signals’ and ‘strike’).
2) See ‘race signals’.

racing flag racing flag
“I Intend to Protest” and “Boat Incurring Penalty” (CS)

(adj) The heraldic term for rays that expand from a central point, but which may also be applied to other charges and to ordinaries that are similarly arranged – rayonné or rayonnant - but see ‘radiated’ and the note below (also ‘gyronny’, ‘ordinary’ and ‘radiating’).

Tibet Flag - Zakliczyn, Poland Armsl - Zakliczyn, Poland
Flag of Tibet (fotw); Flag and Arms of Zakliczyn, Poland (Jarig Bakker)

Please note that the vexillogical term for rays spreading out from a central point is radiating – see ‘radiating 1)’.

A term that may be used to describe the orientation of a charge, particularly (but not exclusively) that of a star - for example: the star and crescent on the national flag of Pakistan are placed on a diagonal line bisecting its green panel, whilst the star on the national flag of Turkey is orientated towards the hoist and that on the flag of Sarawak has one point along the diagonal meridian – the rotational position (see also ‘star 1)’).

Pakistan Turkey Sarawak
National Flag of Pakistan (fotw); National Flag of Turkey (fotw); Flag of Sarawak (fotw)

(adj) A heraldic term used when rays are seen issuing from a charge for example the Madonna radiated as shown below but see ‘radiant’ (also ‘radiating’ and ‘sun-in-splendour’).

Glogów. Poland Šuto Orizari, Macedonia Ferden, Switzerland
Arms of Glogów. Poland (Jarig Bakker); Flag of Šuto Orizari, Macedonia (fotw); Flag of Ferden, Switzerland (fotw)

1) (adj) Rays spreading out from a central point and widening towards the edge of a flag as in, for example, the naval ensign of Japan, or the flag of the US State of Arizona – but see ‘beam(s) 1)’ and the note below (also ‘active’, ‘inactive’, ‘radiant’, ‘radiated’, ‘sunburst’, and compare with ‘gyronny’).
2) See ‘expanding stripe(s)’ (also ‘converging stripes’).
3) (adj) A group of objects or charges placed in an arc (usually from one fixed point) as in the national flags of China and Adygea.

[radiating flags] [radiating flags] [radiating flags]
From left: Flag of Arizona, USA (fotw); National Flag of the Seychelles (fotw); Naval Ensign of Japan

[radiating flags] [radiating flags]
National Flag of China (fotw); National Flag of Adygea, Russia (CS)

Please note with regard to 1) that the heraldic term for rays spreading out from a central point is radiant – see ‘radiant’.

A traditional symbol of Burgundy and later Spain, and a cross (more accurately saltire) composed of diagonal bars with small projections – a cross raguly - see ‘raguly’ (also ‘saltire’).

Spanish naval flag 16th-17th century Ferrol Squadron 1732-1760 Infantry Colour 1693
Spanish Naval Flag 16-17th C (fotw); Flag of the Ferrol Squadron 1732-1760, Spain (fotw); Infantry Colour 1693, Spain (fotw)

A heraldic term meaning any number of small regular projections set an angle on both sides (or on one side only) of a bar, cross or saltire and thought to represent a roughly trimmed branch – see ‘ragged cross’.

Riedern, Switzerland  Libkov, Czech Republic  Libkov, Czech Republic  Gloucester, Ontario  Damara, Namibia
Flag of Riedern, Switzerland (fotw); Flag and Arms of Libkov, Czech Republic (fotw); Flag of Gloucester, Canada (fotw); Flag of Damara, Namibia (fotw)

See ‘dressing lines’ (also ‘dress ship’).

1) One of several flags showing the colours of the rainbow, with three prominent examples being the gay pride flag illustrated below and those of the Italian and British peace movements illustrated under peace flag (see also ‘multi-stripe
2) An unofficial nickname for the national flag of South Africa.

[Rainbow flag] [Rainbow flag] [Rainbow flag]
From left: The Current Gay Rights Flag; The Flag of Cusco, Peru (fotw); National Flag of South Africa (fotw)

1) The act of having displayed a flag.
2) See ‘enhanced

A term used for the increasingly obsolete practice of inserting a layer of padding between the surface of a military colour (or of a flag) and its (usually but not invariably) embroidered main charge in order to give a three dimensional effect – a padded emblem or charge (see also ‘colour 2)’, ‘embroider’ and ‘padding the sleeve’).

[raised detail]
Raised Detail on a Ceremonial Flag of San Cristσbal de la Laguna, Tenerife, Spain (Klaus-Michael Schneider)

See ‘Appendix V’.

[quarantine flag]
Flag of South Holland, The Netherlands (fotw)

One of the signal flags used on target ranges (such a red warning flag) used to signal safe or dangerous conditions (see also ‘red flag’).
[range flag]
Danger Flag (CS)

1) A flag which signifies the rank of a military officer as opposed to that of a civilian functionary - but please see ‘flag of command’, ‘individual flag’ and ‘tugh’ (also ‘class flag’, ‘flag officer 3)’, ‘in abeyance’ and ‘rank plate’).
2) An alternative term for a distinguishing flag (see ‘distinguishing flag’).

[rank flags] [rank flags] [rank flags] [rank flags] [rank flags]
From left: Rank Flags of a Field Marshall, Full General, Lt General, Major General and a Brigadier General, Thailand (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 UK, US and some other usage, a rectangular panel that is displayed on the vehicle carrying a senior officer of the armed services, and used in place of or in addition to their relevant rank flag or flag of command – an automobile, distinguishing, star or plate (see also ‘car flag’, ‘flag of command 1)’, ‘flag officer 3)’, ‘flag disc’ and ‘rank flag 1)’).

rank plate UK Field Marshal rank plate US Army/Marine Corps five star general
From left: Field Marshall UK and Five Star General Army and Marine Corps US (CS)

rank plate Royal Navy Commodore/Royal Marine Brigadier rank plate USN Ream Admiral (Lower Half)/US Air Force Brigadier General
From left: Commodore Royal Navy and Brigadier Royal Marines UK, Rear Admiral (Lower Half) USN and Brig Gen USAF (CS)

The number of stars range between one and five dependent upon the rank of the officer concerned.
b) In US service officers of the army and the Marine Corps have red plates, whilst those of the USN and USAF have dark blue. In UK service, however, officers of the army have red, of the RN and Royal Marines dark blue, and of the RAF light blue (and that there is a combined services plate whose field is of vertical stripes in dark blue, red and light blue).

An industrial term used to described the repetitive pattern found in damask, and seen in the field of (usually high-quality) flags manufactured in that fabric.

Banner of Zagreb c1711, Croatia (Željko Heimer)

Symbolic of the Rastafarian movement, and (like the pan-African colours and identical to them) based upon the flag of Ethiopia – see ‘pan-African colours’.

Imperial Ethiopia flag Rastafarian flag Rastafarian flag
State Flag of Ethiopia 1941 – 1974 (fotw); Two Examples of Rastafarian Flags (fotw)

See ‘proportions’.

flag ratio

The image of a venomous snake (usually accompanied by the motto “don’t tread on me”) that is depicted either coiled or stretched - it appeared on several early American flags and may be seen on the current US naval jack – see the note following ‘union jack’.

Rattlesnake flag  Rattlesnake flag
Military Colour c1776 (fotw); Current Naval Jack, US (Graham Bartram)

The flag considered by some sources to have been carried by Viking raiding parties up until the 11th Century, and to have been carried by the Normans at the Battle of Hastings (1066) (see also ‘Bayeux tapestry’).

[Raven flag]

See ‘radiant’.

Flag of Tibet (fotw)

1) A term sometimes (and correctly) used in place of pointed to describe the number of such points on a sun emblem – see ‘sun emblem’ and ‘pointed’ (also ‘active’, ‘active and inactive’, and ‘inactive’).
2) See ‘beam(s) 1)’.

Zonnebeke, Belgium Čaška, Macedonia
Flag of Zonnebeke, Belgium (fotw); Čaška, Macedonia (fotw)

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