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Dictionary of Vexillology: O (Oblique Display Design - Optical Proportions)

Last modified: 2022-09-10 by rob raeside
Keywords: vexillological terms |
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See ‘flag for slanted display’.

Flag of the Army For Slanted Display, Bolivia (fotw & CS)

The face, or more important side, of a flag; and in the Western tradition always depicted with the hoist to the observer’s left - the dexter in heraldry – see ‘dexter hoist’ (also 'double-sided 1)', ‘mirror image’, and 'two-sided 1)'.

Portuguese flag - obverse St Kitts and Nevins flag - obverse Guinea flag - obverse
Obverses: National Flags of Portugal, St Kitts and Nevis and Guinea (fotw)

Please note however, that in Arabic tradition the flag is generally depicted with the hoist to the observer’s right – the sinister in heraldry (see also ‘sinister’; ‘dexter’, ‘reverse’ and ‘sinister hoist’).

Saudi Arabian flag - obverse
National Flag of Saudi Arabia (fotw)

See ‘commemorative flag’.

commemorative flag
Centennial Flag 1905-2005 Alberta, Canada (fotw)

A variation of the cross clechee which has a voided twelve-pointed gold cross, with a gold roundel placed at each of those points - a Cross of Toulouse (see also ‘cross 2)’, ‘cross clechee’, ‘cross of Pisa’, ‘roundel 2)’ and ‘voided’).

Occitan cross Occitan cross Occitan cross
Flag of Languedoc, France (fotw); Flag of Occitania (fotw); Flag of Val d'Arán, Spain (fotw)

See ‘firesteel’.

Flag of Zvezdara, Serbia (fotw)

See ‘off-centred cross 2)’ and ‘off-centred cross 3)’ (also ‘centred’ and ‘off-set towards’).

1) Generically see ‘Scandinavian Cross’.
2) Specifically, a cross of the Scandinavian-type that is used on a flag which is not from, or has no connection with, that region – a horizontal Latin or Scandinavian-type cross.
3) A cross whose vertical arm may or may not be centred but whose horizontal arm is closer to the top or bottom of the flag – but see note below.

Denmark  Volyinia, Ukraine  Thunstetten, Switzerland
National Flag of Denmark (fotw); Flag of Volyinia, Ukraine (fotw); Flag of Thunstetten, Switzerland (fotw)

Please note with regard to 3) that in heraldic terms an off-centred cross whose vertical arm is centred but whose horizontal arm is closer to the top of a flag may be blazoned a Latin cross throughout, or if closer to the bottom of the flag a Latin cross throughout reversed – see ‘Latin Cross’ (also ‘reversed 2)’ and ‘throughout’).

The term used to describe a charge (or charges) or a stripe (or stripes) that is (or are) set towards the hoist, fly, top or base of a flag, rather than lying on its vertical or horizontal meridian – shifted towards or shifted to but see note b) below (also) ‘centred’, ‘charge’, ‘inset’, ‘meridian’, ‘off-centred’ and ‘optical proportions’).

Ensign - Israel Cape Verde Islands Liechtenstein
Civil Ensign of Israel (fotw); National Flag of the Cape Verde Islands (fotw); National Flag of Liechtenstein (fotw)

a) These terms should always be accompanied by a further description, for example, off-set towards the hoist.
b) The term “shifted to” (although much used) is potentially inaccurate in that it implies a position against the edge of a flag, so the Editors suggest that one the alternatives (as given herein) are to be preferred in description.

See broad pennant 3) and ‘officer's pennants’.

[yacht commodore]
Yacht Club Commodore’s Broad Pennant, Finland (fotw)

In US usage and in some others, those flags that are flown by the past and present officers of a club, especially of a yacht or boating club – yacht officers flags – but see ‘broad pennant 3)’ and ‘officer's pennants’.

[yacht commodore] [yacht vice commodore] [yacht rear commodore]
Typical examples: Yacht Commodore, Yacht Vice Commodore and Yacht Rear Commodore, US (fotw)

The term that may be used to describe those pennants (often - but not exclusively - a swallow-tailed version of the relevant club burgee or flag) flown by the past or present officers of a club, especially of a yacht or boating club – a flag officer, yacht officer or officer’s broad pennant or a yacht officer’s pennant – but see ‘officer's flags’ and ‘broad pennant 3)’ (also ‘burgee’ and ‘swallow-tail(ed)’).

[officer's pennant] [officer's pennant]
Yacht Commodore and Vice-Commodore, National Yacht Club, Ireland (fotw)

1) A flag that has been formally adopted by the relevant authority, and/or is considered by them to represent a particular entity, institution or cause, as opposed to a design or type which is not so authorized - see ‘unofficial flag’ (also ‘de jure’, ‘flag law’, ‘institutional flags (official)’, and ‘type flag’).
2) A term that may be employed to describe a sub-national flag which is specifically for official rather then general civil use, and usually distinguished by the addition of arms (see also ‘banner 4)‘, ‘civil flag’, ‘ceremonial flag 1)’, ‘state service flag’ and ‘sub-national flag’ with following notes).

[Hapoel Tel-Aviv official flag] [Hapoel Tel-Aviv unofficial flag] [Hesse official flag]
Official and Unofficial Flag of the Hapoel Tel-Aviv Football Club, Israel (fotw); Official Flag/Ensign of Hesse, Germany (fotw)

The term for a form of flag (now obsolete), or of a gonfanon, where the fly is rounded and comes to a point – boat-tailed or shield-shaped – but see ‘lanceolate’ (also ‘engrailed fly’, gonfalon 1), ‘Gothic shield’ and ‘shield’).

Persia, 14th century Grenada, Spain c1350 
Flag of Persia c1350? (fotw); Flag of Granada, Spain c1350 (fotw)

Please note that the differences between “ogival” and “lanceolate” are often very slight, and we suggest that both entries be consulted.

1) Generally a poetic nickname for the US national flag – the Stars and Stripes (see also ‘Betsy Ross flag’, ‘continental colours’, ‘eagle standard’, ‘Franklin flag’, ‘great star flags’, ‘quincunx’, ‘star-spangled banner’ and ‘stars and stripes’).
2) Specifically referring to a US national flag bearing 34 stars and a small white anchor, reputedly belonging to a Captain William Driver.

old glory old glory
National Flag of the United States (fotw); Captain Driver’s Flag (fotw)

The term used in Eastern European heraldry – and a direct translation of the Polish Póltora krzyz – that describes a Latin cross which has a second horizontal arm projecting on one side only - usually the sinister (see also ‘cross 2)’, ‘cross of Lorraine’, ‘Latin cross’ and ‘two-and-a-half armed cross’).

Arms - Siemiatycze. Poland Arms - Kobylin-Borzymy, Poland Flag - Siemiatycze. Poland
Flag and Arms of Kobylin-Borzymy, Poland (fotw); Flag of Siemiatycze. Poland (fotw);

See ‘name pennant’.

Onomast/Name Pennant of the Schooner Walter Holly, New Brunswick c1890 (fotw)

In some (particularly South European) heraldic usage, a term used when the field can see seen through the door and/or windows of a fortified or similar building – but see ‘ajouré’ (also ‘field 2)’.

open example open example open example
Flag of Porqueres, Spain (fotw); Flag of Rogatec, Slovenia (fotw); Flag of Borba, Portugal (fotw)

See ‘coronet’.

open crown example
Flag of La Gomera, Spain (fotw)

In heraldry see ‘voided lozenge’.

Voided lozenge - Morlanwelz
Flag of Morlanwelz, Belgium (fotw)

A technical term for the normal sleeve of a flag that is open at both ends to receive a staff or hoistline - see ‘sleeve 2)’ (also ‘closed sleeve’, ‘heading’ and ‘hoisting’).

1) A term used when the relative dimensions of a series of stripes progressively widen between the hoist and the fly in order to appear even when the flag is flying graduated stripes – an example would be the national ensign of France (see also ‘charge 1)’, ‘hoist’, ‘fly’, ‘off-set towards’, ‘proportions 2)’, ‘stripe’ and ‘visual centre’).
2) A term also used when a charge is set slightly towards the hoist so that it appears to be centred under the same circumstancesas in the federal service flag of Germany.

France German federal service flag
National Ensign of France (fotw); Federal Service Flag of Germany (fotw)

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