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Honor points on flags

Last modified: 2011-12-23 by rob raeside
Keywords: flag design | honor points |
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Which colour is the most common in the "honour point", or the top-leftmost point? Several flags, such as the UK, have a divided honour point (in this case red and white), in such cases, I took the colour closest to the staff (in this case, red). Of the independent countries in my list, here are the findings:

  • R*: 60
  • W: 25
  • B: 53
  • N*: 12
  • V: 29
  • O: 4
  • Y: 9

Notes: The "honour colour" for Latvia was technically maroon, but I placed it under "R". Two nations, Vanuatu and Guyana, were hard to judge the honour colour for. I assumed N for each (Guyana I think the N band does stretch across the corner, leaving no doubt. Vanuatu, it seemed either divided N/R, plain N or divided Y/N.
David Kendall, 28 May 2000

Actually, in the case of the divided honour point, the 'upper' colour is in the position of honour. In particular, with the case of the UK, the white St Andrew's cross of Scotland is given the position superior to that of the St Patrick's cross, and that is why they are in that position. Of course, when the rest of the flag is taken into account, the St George's cross has precedence, but trying to include that in some sort of simple procedure for determining the 'honour colour' would be ridiculous...
Jonathan Dixon, 29 May 2000

And here is a related (and relevant, I hope) question: is the concept of honour point universal? Does it make sense no matter the flag/culture we are talking about?
Jorge Candeias, 29 May 2000

Checking the national flags of Zambia and Vatican, one would wander whether indeed is there such a thing as a honour point -- but I'm quite sure this is not a subjective, cultural things, but something inherent to the very idea of a flag (which is though subjective and cultural by itself). The honour point, or whatever one might call it, is the upper hoist -- that part of the flag which is visible most of the times, in almost any wind condition. Whether flag designers are aware of this or not, that's another question, but once there's vexillography, there's room for bad vexillography...

It struck me that in no wind conditions, the upper hoist is barely visible, while the bottom hoist is completely hidden and random parts of the fly show a bit of themselves; but with a slight breeze, the upper hoist is still barely visible (as the height of the fly ripples it down), though the bottom fly may get to be viewed quite clearly when the wind puffs it stretched.
Antonio Martins, 30 May 2000