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

Last modified: 2020-04-27 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 Maldives flag - obverse St Kitts and Nevins flag - obverse Guinea flag - obverse
Obverses: National Flag of Portugal (fotw); National Flag of The Maldives (fotw); National Flag of St Kitts and Nevis (fotw); National Flag of 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 and Arms of Languedoc, France (fotw & Wikipedia); Flag of Val d'Arαn, Spain (fotw)

See ‘firesteel’.

Flag of Zvezdara, Serbia (fotw)

A term used to describe the vertical or horizontal arm of a cross that is not set on a flag’s vertical or horizontal meridian – see ‘off-centred cross 2)’ below (also ‘centred’ and ‘off-set towards’).

National Flag of Sweden (fotw)

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.

Hong Kong Christians Volyinia, Ukraine Thunstetten, Switzerland Vídeò, Czechia 
Flag of Hong Kong Christians (fotw); Flag of Volyinia, Ukraine (fotw); Flag of Thunstetten, Switzerland (fotw); Flag of Vídeň, Czechia (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 (see also ‘centred’, (see also ‘charge’, ‘inset’, ‘meridian’, ‘off-centred’ and ‘optical proportions’).

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

Please note that this term should always be accompanied by a further description, for example, off-set towards the hoist.

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] [acht past commodore]
Typical examples from left: Yacht Commodore, US (fotw); Yacht Vice Commodore, US (fotw); Yacht Rear Commodore, US (fotw); Yacht Past 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] [officer's pennant] [officer's pennant]
Yacht Commodore and Vice-Commodore, National Yacht Club, Ireland (fotw); Yacht Commodore and Vice-commodore, Nieuwpoort YC, Belgium (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] [Słubice official flag] [Słubice civic flag]
Official and Unofficial Flag of the Hapoel Tel-Aviv Football Club, Israel (fotw); Official Flag and Civic Flag of Słubice , Poland (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 Flag - Siemiatycze. Poland Arms - Kobylin-Borzymy, Poland Flag - Kobylin-Borzymy, Poland
Arms and Flag of Siemiatycze. Poland (fotw); Arms and Flag of Kobylin-Borzymy, 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 open example
Arms and Flag of Alcαcer do Sal, Portugal (fotw); Arms and Flag of Almeida, Portugal (fotw)

See ‘coronet’.

open crown example open crown example
Arms and Flag of Real (Castelo de Paiva), Portugal (fotw)

In heraldry see ‘voided lozenge’.

open lozenge example open lozenge example
Arms and Flag of Daillens, Switzerland (Wikipedia & 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 circumstances – as 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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