Friday, February 26, 2010

Flag Friday III

Flag Friday is a periodic discussion of the world's national flags; the project is explained and indexed here.

These discussions are about graphic design, and perhaps about nationalism and national symbolism in general. They should not be taken as critical of the countries, ideals, cultures, or people that the flags represent.


Parsons: Citing "good colours" and that it is "simple," he assigns it “B“, 70/100.

Michael5000: Bahrain combines the two most common flag colors -- white and red -- in a pattern that is simple but, save for neighboring Qatar, nearly unique. It is not wildly attractive, but it is serviceable and effective.

Grade: B+


Parsons: Citing "plagiarism" and "bad colours" and describing it as "eyewatering," he gives it a "C+", 60/100.

Michael5000: The motif of a circle centered within the rectangular is among the most obvious possible flag designs, yet there are exactly two that use this simple, efficient design. To accuse Bangladesh of plagiarism (of Japan, presumably) is therefore just plain nonsense. Nor is a mix of green and red generally considered eye-watering; I don't know how things are in New Zealand, but here in the United States of America our biggest holiday is branded with that color combo. It could be argued that a red-on-green flag poses problems of recognition for those suffering the most common form of color blindness, but this is the only real design flaw of the Bangladeshi banner. Otherwise it is distinctive, simple, and immediately identifiable.

Grade: B+


Parsons: The "silly trident thing looks ridiculous," he says, but he likes the "good colors." gives it “B-”, 65/100

Michael5000: The colors are good, and the trident -- a bold, simple, and symmetrical shape nicely picked out in black against the gold field -- is an excellent symbol for an island county. Far from looking ridiculous, it gives Barbados one of the most handsome and immediately recognizable flags of any nation.

Grade: A


Parsons: He dislikes the "bad colours" and feels it is "noisy," and awards it a “D-”, 39/100

Michael5000: Again, green and red are not "bad colors" except in the narrow sense of posing difficulty for the colorblind. The "noise," presumably, is the pattern of ticking on the inside margin. Modeled after traditional Belarussian weaving patterns, I personally find this marginal pattern not only attractive but also a charming, folkish expression of national sentiment. Although a fine-grained pattern, it is simple and consists of only two colors, so although it might not stand up to Aviatrix's child-with-crayons test (see comments, here), it is well within the ability of a talented seamstress. Overall, a handsome and distinctive flag.

Grade: A-


Parsons: Praising its "good shape," he gives it a “B+”, 75/100.

Michael5000: I don't particularly care for the squarish 13:15 proportions of the letter-of-the-law Belgian flag, and apparently most Belgians don't either, since banners of a more flaggy 2:3 ratio are far more common in actual use. But my real concern is the colors. Although of honest origin -- the Belgian flag, romantically enough, was slapped together with material from a local fabric shop as the country declared its independence -- it is simply too similar to the flag of Germany for comfort. Yes, the colors are in a different order, and yes, one is vertical while the other is horizontal, but having two countries with the same tricolor next door to each other is getting close to defeating the whole purpose of a flag. Also, for my money the combination of red, gold, and black is among the ugliest in use on tricolors.

Grade: B-


Parsons: Disliking "writing" and "graven images" and characterizing it as "too busy," he assigns a "D", 40/100.

Michael5000: I believe this is the first instance we've seen in this survey of the seal-as-flag school of design. Counter to the whole concept of a flag, which is meant to indicate nationality at a distance, the fussy detail involved in a seal defeats both whole-cloth manufacture (you certainly couldn't have put THIS flag together at the fabric store in the fervor of revolution!) and the crayons of the nation's children. Use of a seal notoriously ruins the flags of most of the U.S. states, and here the flag of Belize. A few genuine and appropriately scaled design elements -- the circular white space in which the seal is placed, and the thin top and bottom stripes of red -- are mitigating factors.

Grade: D


Elaine said...

I never really thought of rendering a critique of a country's flag until I met the M5000 blog! But now I'm all heated up to note that Bangladesh's colors are not red and green, but ugly salmon and poison-green. Red and green of certain saturations tend to make the eyes jump (Belarus) but the woven pattern is lovely. (I think any seamstress would go nuts trying to produce the design, though.) Ticking? There has GOT to be another name, but I can't dredge it up.
You are only up to the Be-s....just HOW many countries are there?

Rebel said...

Yeah, I remember traveling through Western Germany and being confused by the 'sideways' German flag. But I'm not a fan of the equal bands of three different colors flag. The exception, naturally, being the Estonian flag.

I like the flag of Belarus, but am with Parsons in disliking red & green together... although it does work in the Lebanese flag because the red & green aren't touching.

Aviatrix said...

Bahrain is my favourite of this group. I just love the zigzags, and I agree with you about the Bahamian trident.

I've just been watching Olympic biathlon and I've got to say, the Belarus border looks awesome on athletes' hats and parkas.

Meanwhile the crest of Belize, while way too busy for a flag, is fascinating. Right off we see that it is a maritime rainforest nation whose major population groups are black and native, and whose major industries are forestry and uh, hitting things with hammers and baseball bats? Is there any nation that features buff, bare-chested women on its coat of arms?

UnwiseOwl said...

Just Jamacia, Axiatrix. And Fiji has men in skirts.

Uther said...

M5000! Today's NYT puzzle had a clue about a flag with a red dragon!!!!
And where were YOU? Down in the B section!!!!!
I had to get that ALL by myself, and at the rate you are going it will be 2012 before you get to the right nation!
We ask for bread, and you give us a stone.....from Belize.

UnwiseOwl said...

Poor M5000...he'll never get there, considering that the country in question isn't independent. Unless Wales secedes before 2012, I guess...

Jenners said...

Belgium's flag looks like a test pattern.

Very impressed with Barbados!