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Dictionary of Vexillology: M (Middle Arms - Mourning Ribbon)

Last modified: 2015-03-28 by rob raeside
Keywords: vexillological terms |
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See under ‘arms’.

Bremen middle arms
Middle Arms of Bremen, Germany (fotw)

See ‘banner 6)’ (also ‘sovereign’s banner’).

military banner
Commander in Chief banner, Canada (fotw)

See ‘colour 2)’ and ‘colours 2)’.

military colour military colour
Regimental Colour, 1st Battalion of The Black Watch, UK (Graham Bartram); Queen’s Colour, 1st Battalion of The Black Watch (Graham Bartram)

In largely US usage, the term for that emblem which is displayed by units of the National Guard, and usually taken from symbols contained within the flags, seals and/or coats of arms of the relevant state – a state military crest (see also ‘badge 3)’, ‘coat of arms’, ‘emblem, military and governmental/departmental’, ‘seal’ and ‘state flag 2)’ and ‘wreath 2))’).

California military crest Texas military crest Maryland military crest
Military Crest of California, US (fotw); Military Crest of Texas, US (fotw); Military Crest of Maryland, US (fotw)

See ‘emblem, military and governmental/departmental’ under ‘emblem’.

military emblem  
Armed Forces Emblem, Kyrgyzstan (fotw)

The general heading under which all the various flags, banners, pennants and colours relating to the military establishment of any particular country, countries or entity are listed.

UK Army flag Military Academy, Pakistan Corps Flag, Poland UK Army flag
Army Flag, UK (fotw); Flag of the Military Academy, Pakistan (fotw) Corps Flag, Poland (fotw); Rank Flag of the General, South Korea (fotw)

The heraldic term for a charge usually (but not invariably) in the form of a curved or wavy X, and meant to represent a mill bearing – a fer de moline, millrine, mill-ink or mill-irons (see also ‘millstone’).

millrind example millrind example millrind example millrind example millrind example
Flag of Putte, Belgium (fotw); Flag of Ham-sur-Heure, Belgium (fotw); Flag of Courtion, Switzerland (fotw); Flag of Orthen, Netherlands (CS); Flag of Libin, Belgium (fotw)

The term for a representation of the large circular stone used for the grinding of wheat or other cereal by water- or windmill, and usually (but not invariably) shown with a square or notched hole in its centre and sometimes radiating ridges – a mill-stone, grind-wheel or grindstone - see ‘waterwheel’ (also ‘millrind’ and ‘windmill’).

 millstone millstone millstone millstone millstone
Flag and Arms of Sazes do Lorvγo, Portugal (Sergio Horta); Flag and Arms of Choltice, Czech Republic (fotw); Flag of Vincencov, Czech Republic (fotw)

See ‘waterwheel’.

millwheel millwheel
Arms and Flag of Veliki Grđevac, Croatia (fotw)

The term used when the reverse of a flag is a reflected duplication of the obverse (as seen as in a mirror), and the default assumption in most cases - but see ‘double-sided 1)’ and ‘two-sided 1)’ (also ‘obverse’ and ‘reverse’).

Fiji ensign Fiji ensign
Fiji ensign Fiji ensign
Obverse and Reverse of the Civil Ensign of Fiji (fotw); Obverse and Reverse of the National Flag of Guyana (fotw)

See Appendix III.

Auxiliary colour Auxiliary colour
From left: Brunatre and Tenne

The aftermost mast in a sailing vessel with three or more masts (and on a two masted vessel dependent upon the rig) from which the gaff is rigged, and from which the command flag of a rear-admiral was formerly flown (see also ‘balls of difference’, ‘flag of command’, ‘fore’, ‘gaff’, ‘mast’ and ‘masthead’).

See ‘cross moline’ in ‘appendix VIII’.

Moline cross
Flag of Chapelle-lez-Herlaimont, Belgium (fotw)

A model of pattern and colour, often fixed by law, after which actual flags are manufactured – an etalon or type flag (see also ‘flag law’, ‘official flag 1)’, ‘prototype flag 1)’, ‘specification’ and ‘specification sheet’).

[Establishment of arms example]
Flag of Yukon Territory, Canada (Design Details Established by Model Flag) (fotw)

The heraldic term for a coat of arms, or a charge, which has replaced a design formerly in use – see ‘ancient 1)’.

France modern France ancient
France Modern and France Ancient (fotw)

1) Generically, the term used to describe a simple, often (but not exclusively) circular design and the Japanese equivalent of a heraldic crest, badge or shield, originally a personal or family symbol, they are now also common in Japanese civic and provincial flags – but see 2) and the note below (also ‘daimyo flags’ and ‘hinomaru’).
2) Specifically, the term may be restricted to those Japanese flags showing a personal or family badge – a kamon or mondokoro (see also ‘imperial standard(s) 1)’ and ‘imperial standard(s) 2)’).

[Mon on Japanese flag]  [Mon on Japanese flag]  [Mon on Japanese flag]  [Mon]
Flag of Aogashima Island, Japan (fotw); Flag of Fukui, Japan (fotw); Flag of Fukuoka, Japan (fotw); Standard of the Imperial Family at Sea 1875 - 1889, Japan (fotw).

Please note with regard to 1) that the symbol on Japanese sub-national flags is often a stylized version of the appropriate ideogram, and should be considered therefore, the equivalent of a monogram or cipher rather than of a crest, badge or shield.

Flag of Ichikai, Japan (fotw)

See ‘mon 2)’

Standard of The Empress of Japan (fotw)

1) A term used when the illustration of a flag, or of a coat of arms, is rendered in tones or shades of a single colour, often (but by no means invariably) black/grey on white (see also ‘hatching’).
2) The term also used when a flag uses only black and white in its design.
3) See ‘monocolour’.

[Crikvenica] [Crikvenica - monocolour] [Trengganu]
Flag of Crikvenica, Croatia in Full Colour and Monochrome (fotw & CS); National Flag of Trengganu, Malaysia (fotw)

The term used when a flag is composed of a single colour – a unicolour or unicoloured – but is also sometimes employed to describe the field of a flag which is largely (but not entirely) plain - see ‘plain 2)’.

[Fujairah] [Kedah]
National Flag of Fujairah (now part of the UAE) (fotw); Flag of Kedah, Malaysia (fotw)

A motif formed by one or more letters, formerly often intertwined and now more usually seen plain, as for example, on the royal standard of Belgium and some presidential flags of France – a cipher or ligature (this last especially if of only two letters) - but see ‘royal cypher 1)’.

[Monograms on flags] [Monograms on flags] [Monograms on flags]
Royal Standard of Belgium 1993 - 2013 (fotw); Presidential Flag of France 1969–74 (fotw); Princely Standard of Monaco (fotw)

1) In vexillology see ‘crescent 1)’ and ‘disc’ (also ‘waning or waxing moon’).
2) In heraldry the term used for a crescent that is placed with its horns pointing upward - but see notes below and ‘crescent 2)’.

Čepin, Croatia Čepin, Croatia Büren an der Aare, Switzerland Schinznach, Switzerland
Flag and Arms of Čepin, Croatia (fotw); ; Flag of Busswil bei Bόren, Switzerland (fotw); Flag of Schinznach Dorf, Switzerland (fotw)

With regard to 2), when a crescent moon is shown with its horns towards the dexter it is termed increscent or increment, when towards the sinister decrescent or decrement, when however, it is shown full (usually with a face) the term used is per complement.
b) A crescent with a face is occasionally seen in European heraldry.

Boswil, Switzerland
Flag of Boswil, Switzerland (fotw)

See ‘colours 5)’.

Naval Ensign UK  Naval Ensign RSA
Naval Ensign, UK (fotw); Naval Ensign South Africa 1952 – 1981 (fotw)

1) The current system of signalling with flags (or with the arms alone in the absence of flags) using the Morse code, where if hand-held vertically (above the head) they signify dots and if held horizontally (at shoulder level) dashes (see also ‘international code of signals’, ‘semaphore’ and ‘wigwag’).
2) A system, now obsolete, of signalling with a single flag using the Morse code, where short waves signified dots and long waves dashes - signalling by flag waving (see also ‘semaphore’ and ‘wigwag’).

1) is contained in the current (2005) Edition of the International Code of Signals, and 2) had reasonably widespread use in the field prior to radio, both between artillery batteries and forward observers, and for communication between naval and army units ashore.
b) The 1937 (British) Admiralty Manual of Seamanship gave the Morse code flags as plain blue, or white with a blue horizontal stripe (against light or dark backgrounds respectively), but that other variants are known to have existed.

See ‘masoned’.

Aristau, Switzerland
Flag of Aristau, Switzerland

A word or phrase, sometimes in a classical language, usually inscribed on the scroll accompanying a coat of arms or state emblem, and originally derived from the war cry (see also ‘Appendix IV’, ‘device 1)’ and ‘scroll’).

“Evil be To Him Who Evil Thinks”, The Motto of the Order of the Garter in Old French, UK

A heraldic term for the base of a shield, banner of arms or a flag that forms a curve, and is generally (but not exclusively) tinctured vert in order to represent a grassed hillock – see compartment (also ‘coupeau’, ‘tinctures’ and ‘vert’).

Wislikofen, Switzerland Merenschwand, Switzerland flag - Brdovec, Croatia arms - Brdovec, Croatia
Flag of Wislikofen, Switzerland; Flag of Merenschwand, Switzerland; Flag and Arms of Brdovec, Croatia (fotw)

See ‘coupeau’ (also ‘mount’ above).

mount of coupeau example
Flag of Kirchberg, Switzerland (fotw)

In US – particularly fire fighting – usage, a length of gathered decorative fabric generally in black/purple (as a mourning version of the red-white-blue national bunting), and draped between two anchor points to signify mourning for the death of a colleague - see ‘bunting 2)’ (also ‘fan’).

Mourning bunting
An often (but not invariably) plain black flag of slightly varying design, displayed (sometimes unofficially) by organisations and persons to signify mourning for people or events, often (but not invariably) for political reasons – not to be confused with a mourning pennant, pall flag or funeral flag (see ‘funeral flags’, ‘mourning pennant’ below and ‘pall flag’, also ‘cravat 2)’, ‘draping’ and 'half mast a flag').

Mourning flags - Croatia, Denmark Mourning flag - Denmark until 1743 Vietnam mourning flag
From left: Croatia (CS); Denmark (CS); Demark until 1743 (fotw); Vietnam (fotw)

In Western European usage, a largely black triangular pennant of slightly varying design, flown from the mainmast of vessels on inland waterways to signify mourning for the skipper or his spouse (see also ‘mourning flag’ above).

Catholic Mourning Pennants Protestant Mourning Pennants
Catholic and Protestant Mourning Pennants (Litzke GmbH)

See ‘draping’ (also ‘cravat 2)’).

[draped flag]
National Flag of Spain Draped with a Mourning Ribbon (Antonio Gutiιrrez & Eugene Ipavec)

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