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Graubünden / Grischun / Grigioni canton (Switzerland)

Last modified: 2024-05-11 by martin karner
Keywords: switzerland | graubuenden | grischun | grigioni | canton | german | romansh | italian |
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[Flag of Graubünden] image by António Martins

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Description of the flag

Per fess the chief per pale; 1: per pale sable and argent; 2: quarterly azure and or, debruised by a cross quartered and countercoloured; in base: argent, an ibex saillant sable.

Horizontally divided into equal parts, the upper part of which is also divided into equal parts vertically. The upper part closest to the hoist is divided vertically into black and white halves. The upper part in the fly is quartered blue and yellow, divided by a cross which is itself quartered with the blue and yellow reversed. The base is white with a black ibex standing upright.
T.F. Mills, 2 November 1997

Symbolism of the flag

The flag consists of three separate simplified arms representing the three constituent members of a confederation formed in 1457: the first quarter is the "Grey League", its black and white being a pun on the name; the second quarter is the cross of the "League of Ten Jurisdictions"; and the ibex, denoting freedom, independence, swiftness and bravery, is the emblem of the "League of God's House".
T.F. Mills, 2 November 1997

History of the flag

The "League of God's House" (Gotteshausbund) was formed at Chur in 1367 to counter the machinations of Bishop Peter von Boehmen, and evolved into a revolutionary organisation against Austria. The "Grey League" (Oberer Bund) was formed in 1424 at Truns as a union against the "Black League" of the local nobility. The "League of the Ten Jurisdictions" (Zehngerichte-Bund) was formed in 1436 at Davos to prevent a splintering of local courts of justice.

The three leagues united in 1457 into a republic called the "Mutual Three Leagues". This republic never had its own flag or arms, and its three members went into battle with their own flags. The republic became an ally of the Swiss Confederation in 1498. It became a full member of the Helvetic Republic in 1798 at the invitation of the French, and a member of the restored Swiss Confederation in 1803. The Grey League lent its name to the new Canton (Graubünden in German, Grisons in French), but the original arms and flag omitted its black and white device, and consisted only of the "Ten Jurisdictions" in the upper half and "God's House" in the lower half.

The present design dates from 1932, and the three parts are actually a simplification of the member's original arms (since 1803, here the official version from 1861–1931). The black and white arms of the "Grey League" also featured St. George and the Dragon, and the blue and yellow of the "Ten Jurisdictions" featured a "savage" (Wilder Mann) crowned with oak leaves and holding in his right hand a blue and yellow flag, and in his left an uprooted pine tree.
T.F. Mills, 2 November 1997

[Book illustration from 1513 showing the Battle of Calven/Chalavaina (1499). On the right side the flags of the Grey League and the League of God's House, on the left the flags of the Swabian League under Maximilian I (source). –
Seal of the League of the Ten Jurisdictions (1518) with CoA, and the emblems of the three leagues together on a cannon (1533) (source). –
CoA of the Three Leagues (1717) on the Upper Gate (Obertor/Porta sura, built in 1513) of Ilanz/Glion (source). –
Shield of cantonal postal service, with cantonal emblem (1803–1932), containing the shields of the Three Leagues. This postal shield was in use from 1813 to 1848 (Since 1848 the postal service has been organized nationally) (source)]

Colour Flag

[Colour Flag GR] image by Ole Andersen

Simple rectangular cantonal flag, as shown in Kannik (1956) [So-called colour flag (Farbenfahne in German)].
Ole Andersen, 4 August 2002

Flaggen, Knatterfahnen and Livery Colours




[livery colours]

images by Pascal Gross

Flaggen are vertically hoisted from a crossbar in the manner of gonfanon, in ratio of about 2:9, with a swallowtail that indents about 2 units. The chief, or hoist (square part) usually incorporates the design from the coat of arms – not from the flag. The fly part is always divided lengthwise, usually in a bicolour, triband or tricolour pattern (except Schwyz which is monocolour, and Glarus which has four stripes of unequal width). The colours chosen for the fly end are usually the main colours of the coat of arms, but the choice is not always straight forward.

Knatterfahnen are similar to Flaggen, but hoisted from the long side and have no swallow tail. They normally show the national, cantonal or communal flag in their chiefs.
Željko Heimer
, 16 July 2000

Early 20th century flag design

       images located by Martin Karner
(Postmark: 1913 | source)                                                    (source)

At the beginning of the 20th century, flamed flags were still in use, with the white cross replaced by a (baroque) shield in the centre of the flag. These decorative flags had been used until WWII and then somewhat forgotten in preference of the current cantonal flags. [Today they are being produced again, see right image]
Pascal Gross, 30 June 2002

See also:   - Other examples of "Early 20th century flag design": CH, AG, AI, AR, BE, BL, BS, FR, GE, GL, JU, LU, NE, NW, OW, SG, SH, SO, SZ, TG, TI, UR, VD, VS, ZG, ZH
                 - Modern flamed flags


image located by Martin Karner (8 May 2024)