The state of New Mexico is filled with the most breathtaking scenery, vibrant indigenous cultures, and a globally recognized art scene. It is no wonder its nickname is the Land of Enchantment, with so much to see. Unlike many other states with simple flags featuring only the state seal, New Mexico has a bright, bold flag that embraces its unique heritage and culture. The unique flag is considered one of the best-designed state flags and flies proudly over the state of New Mexico.Read more »
Flags are endlessly diverse in their design. With a dizzying array of colors, imagery, motifs, and patterns, it can be challenging to identify what makes a flag design one that will genuinely last the test of time.Read more »
Every family or congregation has its own share of holiday traditions, whether it's gathering for a large meal or decorating the house together. Many of these holiday traditions derive from certain religious backgrounds.
Most people of Irish descent are very proud of their heritage. Thus, it makes sense they would use a variety of flags to display their pride in the land of Eire or Ireland. One such flag is the Erin Go Bragh flag. The flag features a yellow harp on a green field with the words “Erin Go Bragh.”
A Tiny Country with Immense Power Though Vatican City is the smallest country in the world, it is arguably one of the most influential of all time. It is the home of the Pope, the titular head of the Roman Catholic church and the site of some of some of the most important art and architecture on Earth: Pretty impressive for a tiny patch of land just over 100 acres in size. The population is similarly limited, with only 594 citizens registered in 2011. Most of these live abroad in diplomatic capacities attached to embassies.Read more »
The Bedford Flag is the oldest intact flag in the United States, possibly the oldest flag carried into battle in the history of America. There is, of course, some controversy, which we will look at briefly. First, though, let’s look at the banner itself: … or at least a reproduction of it; the original is painted on red silk damask and, while intact, is not in the best of condition. Note the almost square shape; most modern flags are rectangular, in roughly a 2:1 to 4:3 ratio. This probably indicates it was a cavalry flag. The flag is asymmetrical, with the obverse and reverse having slightly different designs. Here, we view the obverse, where the sword is extended behind the ribbon, gripped in the right hand, and the inscription on the ribbon reads from top to bottom. The reverse has the sword in front of the ribbon, held in the left hand, and the inscription climbing. That Latin inscription is Vince Aut Morire, meaning Conquer or Die. The exact date of manufacture is unknown, but it was already an heirloom when it was carried into the Battle of Concord (or was it?) on April 19, 1775, by Nathaniel Page. Analysis of the pigments on the flag indicates the presence of the pigment Prussian Blue, invented in 1704, so that limits its creation to after that period. The damasking suggests further that its likely creation is in the early 1700s; the floral pattern of pomegranates, grapes, and leaves was common in that time period. Also, the Page family is mentioned in military rolls at the time as being dispatched as cornets, who carried the flag for their companies, by 1737 at least. Presuming they brought this flag with them, it certainly indicates it was possible to have been carried to North Bridge in Concord at the appropriate time. Unfortunately, the ephemera from the battles do not indicate the presence of such a flag. Surely someone at the battle would have taken notice of such a unique flag and made mention of it; most flags are readily identifiable – which is the point, really – and would have been listed in a debrief of a battle, so that the companies and units that participated would be properly recorded. Sadly, the lack of any such notice means that, despite the lore, Mr. Page probably did not actually carry the flag into any such conflict. That doesn’t mean that its position as the oldest flag in the United States is in danger, though, especially since it’s in very good shape for a three-hundred-year-old piece of cloth. In fact, the symbolism of the flag is pretty interesting, so let’s turn from the sorrow and embrace the heraldry. The armored arm was a fairly standard heraldry symbol, used throughout Europe to indicate a powerful leader, specifically a person endowed with qualities of leadership rather than just a person in charge by circumstance. The sword, unsurprisingly, is also very commonly seen, indicating military honor and justice. The cloud is a touch more obscure, indicating mystery, but flag designers were never totally immune to the idea that some things simply look awesome, and a sword-wielding arm emerging from a cloud to declare that it must “Conquer or Die” falls directly into that category. Three cannonballs are suspended in the air; in heraldry this generally means the bearer of the flag has faced such a weapon in battle. To sum up: A strong military leader who is willing to face cannon and not back down? Definitely a good choice for a unit of Minutemen to rally behind. It is probable that the Page family carried the banner into maneuvers and meetings, even if they likely didn’t commission nor procure it for the company, as that was the company commander’s duty. Even if it was absent at the first battle of the American Revolution, the long history of the flag ensures that it will command interest for a long time to come. The Bedford Library currently holds the flag in a special room in its history area, where it is available to view at any time the library is open. Seeing such an artifact in person connects the viewer to its original position in a way that is difficult to convey, although now you can acquire an excellent reproduction to re-experience that feeling at any time.
The history of the Cuban flag is a bit obscure; there are two tales of its origin and design. One has it designed – apparently out of whole cloth, as the saying goes – in 1848. The banner was carried by the Venezuelan general Narsico López in his first attempt to free Cuba from Spanish rule. His wife sewed it, and the symbolism is explicit: The blue stripes are for the three original provinces, the red is for the blood of the Cuban patriots, and the red triangle is a Masonic symbol for liberty, equality, and fraternity.Read more »
Posted: September 25, 2016
The world as we know it today is astonishingly different from what it was over five hundred years ago. The Age of Colonization was a groundbreaking time of discovery, one where unexpected, dramatic (and occasionally traumatic) voyages changed cultures and ecology across the globe.
Main sea trade routes discovered during the Age of Exploration.
Starting with the largest naval powers of Europe (Portugal, Spain, and England), explorers set out to discover valuable assets. Spices, furs, timber, rich fabrics, rare scents, and more unusual goods were sought all over the world. There was a race, so to speak, to seek out and claim the most valuable territories and their treasures. These colonies enriched and lent value to their conquering empires.
Throughout the Age of Exploration, the globe was marked with the flags of European occupation, some firmly held, others hotly disputed.
The Spread of Empires
Between the 15th and 18th centuries, the map of the world was a pattern of Imperial and Royal flags. Some of these can still be seen in the standards of now independent countries or states. Indeed, it did not matter if a place was already inhabited. As long as it was unclaimed by a European power, the land was fair game.
The energy, curiosity, and rampant greed of the time makes for fascinating storytelling. Anyone who got hooked on the Showtime television series “The Tudors" can attest to this fact.
Posted: September 22, 2016
It seems like a simple quest, searching for the oldest national flag in existence. In reality, the actual historical trail gets much murkier. Legends, national heroes, personal standards, and religious visions all figure into a much more complex picture.
Just to make everything more interesting, the ancient tradition of heraldry, both personal and family, complicates the issue. From the foggiest scraps of historical records emerge the usage of flags and symbols to identify people and tribes. Official adoption of those symbols by larger groups comes much later, and it is harder to trace the actual beginning of a flag as national identity.
Contender #1: The Dannebrog
One version of history is easy enough to accept. The Dannebrog, the national flag of Denmark, has been in continuous usage since a battle in 1219 AD.
The legend is a little richer in romantic details. On June 15th, King Waldemar II defeated a force of Estonians with a banner that descended from heaven above (or so the story goes). It is interesting to see this legend falls into the formulaic vision of “under this flag you shall be victorious,” which was a common religious metaphor of the age. With a strange twist, though: “cross from the sky” type miracles were much more common in the Iberian peninsula, where clashes between Christians and Moors were not unusual.
This was the Dannebrog, the flag of the Danes, or simply “the red flag.” Simple and elegant in appearance, it features a brilliant white cross against a red background. Through the course of history, this particular design was also used by the Portuguese Order of Christ and by the Knights Hospitaller from the Baltic states (both crusading orders).
In the land of penguins and orca, with a population of 135 permanent residents, Antarctica is a unique place on Earth. There is no official flag of Antarctica since it is not a country nor governed by any authority.
However, there is a caveat to that as Antarctica is a de facto condominium, governed by parties to the Antarctic Treaty System that have consulting status. Twelve countries signed the Antarctic Treaty in 1959, and thirty-eight have signed it since then. The treaty prohibits military activities and mineral mining, prohibits nuclear explosions and nuclear waste disposal, supports scientific research, and protects the continent's ecozone. Ongoing experiments are conducted by more than 4,000 scientists from many nations, primarily in its summertime.
Seven countries lay claim to a part of Antarctica, known as “territories,” which basically allows a country to do experiments provided they follow the regulations of the Antarctic Treaty System. Britain holds the British Antarctic Territory (yes, such an original name!) and New Zealand holds the Ross Dependency. France claims Adelie Land, named for the penguins there. Norway holds Peter I Island and Queen Maud Land. Australia, Chile, and Argentina also have stakes in the land of Antarctica.
In 2002, a flag was approved by the Antarctic Treaty Organization and is being used as an informal ensign of the continent. Many other designs for the flag have been suggested and are currently under consideration. The designs suggested by Whitney Smith and Graham Bartram are the most eminent designs.
The Graham Bartram design uses the flag of the United Nations as its base pattern. It is a simple white map of Antarctica on a blue setting. The map essentially represents the continent's nonaligned status.
The Graham Bertram Flag was first hoisted on the continent in 2002. When he planned the ensign, Bertram was cognizant of the converging territorial demands of Chile, the United Kingdom, and Argentina. This version is probably the most famous design for the continent, proven by its wide presence on the web.
On the other hand, the Whitney Smith design applies the