Last modified: 2023-05-20 by martin karner
Keywords: switzerland | sankt gallen | canton | fasces | german |
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Description of the flag
Vert, a judge's axe palewise facing dexter enfiled by a lictorial
fasces of five visible shafts the two outermost reduced in width all
argent, bound fess- and saltire-wise with a ribbon of the field.
On a green field, a white upright axe facing the hoist. The shaft of the axe is bound by five white staffs, the outermost ones being slightly narrower, and the bundle is bound with green ribbon. The fasces are fimbriated in black so they don't appear as a solid block.
Symbolism of the flag
The lictoral fasces was an ancient Roman symbol carried in front of
magistrates as a symbol of their authority and power over life and
death. According to the designer of the St. Gallen arms and flag,
the fasces represented authority, justice, sovereignty and unity.
Green was at the time the colour of revolution and freedom, and
sometimes referred to as the "light green of the new order" (Cf.
Vaud and Thurgau created at the same time). If the fasces were
three-dimentional there would be eight staffs, but only five are
visible. The eight represent the original districts of the Canton.
The ribbon tying the fasces represents the unity and strength of the
canton. According to Roman symbolism, a single stick was easily
broken, but a fagot (same root as fasces) was indestructible.
The flag has undergone several minor modifications, several of them
provoking uproar about unnecessary bureaucratic tinkering, and
leading one critic to call the fasces a "salami pinched by its
image by António Martins
Angst (1992), "A Panoply of Colours: The Cantonal Banners of Switzerland and the Swiss National Flag"
reported the axe with a black cross on the blade, introduced before WWII and
kept until 1951 (to stress the "Swissness" of the symbol, avoiding
connections with fascism).
António Martins, 25 October 1998
Simple rectangular cantonal flag, as shown in Kannik (1956).
Ole Andersen, 4 August 2002
Flaggen, Knatterfahnen and Livery Colours
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