Friday, June 17, 2011

Flag Friday XXX

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: Liking Qatar's "Good Shape, Parsons gives it a "B+", 75/100.

Michael5000: There's no other flag quite like Qatar's -- except, um, Bahrain's, and since they live next door it can be hard to keep the two straight in your head.  Qatar's is maroon as opposed to Bahrain's red, and has more serrations in the serrated line between the color and the white.  Apparently, the symbolism of the two serrations is completely different, but I am not buying any theory of independent evolution.

Incidently, Qatar not only has a too-long bad shape, but with a prescribed ratio of 11:28 a faintly ridiculous one.

Grade: B-


Parsons: Without comment, it gets a "B", 70/100.

Michael5000: Identical to the flag of Chad.  How did this come to be?  I told the story back in May 2010 when we talked about Chad:
[Romania] had used a blank tricolor in the past, but during the communist era... there was an appropriate communist national symbol in the yellow stripe. 
During that time period, newly independent Chad decided that it would make its flag the tricolor of primaries, since nobody else was using it.  But then:
After the cretinous Ceauşescu dictatorship was toppled in the late '80s, [the communist] symbols began to be torn off or cut out of Romania's flags, sometimes leaving a defiant hole in the yellow stripe. 

In 1989, the blank tricolor was made official -- but this rendered Romania's flag identical to what was now an existing national flag, Chad's. Chad complained about this to the U.N. in 1994, but Romania understandably didn't feel like changing at that point. I can't imagine that anyone in the international diplomatic community felt too excited about taking the question on; in any event, the issue seems to have faded. If Romania and Chad ever go to war using 18th Century infantry tactics, though, there's going to be real trouble.
Parsons gave Romania a "B" and Chad a "B-."  I gave Chad an "A-," and will give Romania a:

Grade: A-

Russia(n Federation)

Parsons: Without comment, it gets a "B-", 65/100.

Michael5000: Among the benefits of the dissolution of the Soviet Empire has been a profusion of new flags, most of which are pretty cool.  I'm going to include the "new" Russian tricolor on this list.  I used quotes there, though, because this new flag actually dates back to the seventeenth century.  There are various stories about how it was one way or another reconstructed from the Dutch flag, which is one of those plausible ideas about which we will never know if it is true or not.

Anyway, I wouldn't have thought that anything "new" could have been done with red, white, and blue.  But the surprising placement of the white stripe kind of remakes the color scheme.  It's "fresh."

Grade: A-


Parsons: Disliking "Plagiarism," "Writing," and that it's a "Bad Tricolour," he gives it a "D", 40/100.  "Writing a big R on an overused tricolour spectacularly unoriginal."

Michael5000:   Parsons was, of course, hating on the fairly cringeworthy former flag of Rwanda.  You remember:

In abandoning this design, Rwanda earned the Most Improved Flag prize in the L&TM5K Awards for Flag Merit back in 2008, beating out Georgia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, and Lesotho.  "A profound improvement," commented a slightly younger Michael5000.

Grade: A-

St. Kitts and Nevis

Parsons: Without comment, it gets a "B+", 76/100.

Michael5000: Given my famous enthusiasm for white stripelets, though, you might assume that this flag would work for me.  But to tell you the truth, yellow stripelets leave me a little cold, especially sitting next to white stars.  I think either all white or all gold would have been a better idea.  Interesting geometry, though, of the angle of the diagonal being parallel with one of the lines of a perfectly upside-down star.  See what I mean?

Grade: B-


Aviatrix said...

This feels like a rerun. I guess I'm remembering it from when you blogged on all these flags' lookalikes.

Michael5000 said...

Perhaps your interest is flagging.

Michael5000 said...

Get it?

Rebel said...

11:28 or not... I love Qatar's flag!

Voron X said...

1. Qatar's principle color is the best on any flag in the world. I'll admit I'm biased, but this color has a noble history. During the Roman Empire, the dye to create this color, known as Tyrian Purple, was worth more than gold, whichis why it was reserved for the nobility, which is why senators would put a strip of this color on their togas to show status. Enduring natural purple dyes are very rare, but thanks to the snails Bolinus brandaris and Murex brandaris and a couple others, we have what is essentially indigo-with-two-bromines. The art was lost to the western world in the dark ages, and subsequent rediscovered purples in the middle ages were much bluer. The word "purple" comes from πορφύρα/pvrpvra, and was used to describe this reddish shade (as opposed to Welch's purple!)

Enough of my rant. Qatar does not lose points by being similar to Bahrain's, because Rule #5 of "Good Flag Bad Flag" ( says "Be distinctive or be Related," and Bahrain and Qatar share history, and there's no mistaking which one you're looking at, even in greyscale. Yes, it's proportions are insane, and it loses points for that, though if that flying flag is actually to spec, it looks pretty nice there. Grade: A-

2. Romania Romania Romania. sigh. Chad, Moldova, Andorra. Remember my rule about seals - the latter two don't get a walk by sticking some thingy on their neighbor's flag. Blame it on the French. Romania had this nice horizontal primary tricolor going, currently unused on the National level. Then they changed it vertically, possibly to mimic the French. And of course Andorra was influenced by France, being almost part of it. Moldova, of course, pretty much shares Romanian history on the flag front. And Chad, well, the former French colony didn't really go out on a limb after their independence, did they?

In the International Flag Court of VoronX, I give Romania the vertical symmetric tricolor, and I require that Moldova go back to the Horizontal tricolor they had originally, like a good little former SSR (they can keep 2:1 if they choose).

And Andorra, come on, 8:9:8? You're not fooling anybody. Really, if you're going to make the middle stripe wider to honor Spain, then do it in a 1:2:1 proportion. You are hereby ordered.

And finally Chad, what were you thinking? that little seal doesn't mean you can co-opt the Romanian "civil" flag! Take a lesson from Tanzania, the Congo(s) and Namibia - a nice bend sinister (diagonal to upper right) will remove all doubt as to what continent your flag is from.

Oh, and Romania's grade? Minus a letter grade for the Chad situation (until it's cleared up), plus a 1/3 grade, since they have the history. B+

3. Russia. Obviously there's the pan-slavic confusion issue, but that's not on Russia, who was using these colors in 1668. It's a serviceable flag, though I am sick to death of Red-White-Blue (thank you, Dutch!), so it leaves me less than inspired. Nice lighter blue, though. B+, I guess.

4. Rwanda. Nice improvement. Stupid to specify two different yellows, though. The Sun in the fly is refreshing as well. A-

5. St Kitts and Nevis. Yes, it has five colors, though "pan-african" is kind of just a color in and of itself. It should get points off for that, the stars should probably be gold, like M5K said. Still, it looks nice, and I'm having a hard time being too harsh, when it has always been so easy for me to remember. Oh, and those are not upside down stars. They follow the diagonal. They "lean right" if you look at them as upside down. Grade: B+

Voron X said...

I would like to amend my Qatar rating. It should be an A. The only reason it's not A+ is because of the over-long proportions. Also, it's my 3-yr-old son's favorite flag.