Friday, November 12, 2010

Flag Friday XVII

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: Without comment, he gives it a "B+", 75/100.

Michael5000: The flag of Iceland is more or less the opposite of the flag of Norway.  And both of them are awesome.

Grade: A


Parsons: Complaining that it is "too busy," he gives it a "B-", 65/100.

Michael5000: Not so fast, Dr. Parsons!  That device in the center of India's orange, white, and green tricolor -- it has the satisfyingly South Asian name of the "Ashoka Chakra" -- is really just a complicated blue geometric shape.  The Indians have managed to get a national symbol on their flag without requiring anything more than good scissors and applique skills from their flagmakers.  More power to them.

I am told, too, that the Indian flag is a successful one in that, wherever you go in the immense diversity of the world's largest democracy, you will find copious use of the orange/white/green motif.  Can't attest to it personally, though.

Grade: B+


Parsons: Saying that it's "simple" -- a good thing?  a bad thing? -- he assigns a "B", 70/100.

Michael5000: The Eurocentric among us look at the flag of Indonesia and see either the flag of Poland flying upside down, or the flag of little Monaco flaying right-side up.  But the Indonesian banner has local roots going back several hundred years, and was used by the resistance to Dutch colonial rule in the first half of the Twentieth Century, so it's the real deal.   Still, it's simple -- a bit too simple to inspire out-of-town admiration, I think -- and a little too similar to too many other national banners to hold its own in a plaza of international flags.

Grade: B-


Parsons: It's busy, apparently WAY too busy, and Parsons slaps it with a D+, 45/100.

Michael5000: OK, to explain what's going on here, I think we need to go right to the Wiki:
The red emblem in the centre of the flag, designed by Hamid Nadimi, is a highly stylized composite of various Islamic elements: a geometrically symmetric form of the word Allah ("God") and overlapping parts of the phrase La ilaha illa Allah ("There is no god but Allah"), forming a monogram in the form of a tulip. Written in white on the inner edges of the green and red bands is the repeated phrase Allahu Akbar ("God is great") in a stylized version of the Kufic script used for the Qur'an. This writing renders the flag non-reversible.
Now I'm not a big fan of theocracy, and all of the verbiage might get on my nerves if it were legible to me, or if I were, say, a member of a religious minority in Iran.  Those things not being true, I think the flag of Iran is pretty sweet.  The script merely modifies the border of what is essentially a basic horizontal tricolor, and the central symbol is graphically simple and direct.  Handsome and immediately recognizable, it is a fine banner for that great, if troubled, nation.

Grade: A-


Parsons: Complaining that the "Best features of this flag [were] stolen from Syria, he charges the Iraqi  flag with "plagiarism" and is irritated by "writing."  Liking the "good colours," he settles on a "C," 55/100.

Michael5000: You may have heard that the country of Iraq has been in considerable flux in recent years, and the same is true of their flag.  From 2004 to 2008, the design that Parsons reviewed had a font change:

And then, in 2008, it had a star-ectomy.

We'll see a lot of these red, white, and black tri-colors in the Middle East, as we did in Egypt.  They are not entirely to my taste, but it's hard to fault the essential design.  For Iraq, I think ditching the stars was a good move.  The writing is again the phrase Allahu Akbar -- it's nice to see Iran and Iraq agreeing on something -- and, as it's in Arabic, the flag is flown from the right-hand side rather than the more common left.  See how that works?

Grade (for the current flag): B


Elaine said...

I didn't have a Flag Friday, but I got a really great postcard in the mail. I took a picture of 'Inspiration Point' while we were in Eureka Springs. I have decided to rise above the tragic miscarriage of justice perpetrated in the conduct of the Dorkathon....

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater said...

I like those Arabic ones. Good times.