Last modified: 2023-07-08 by rob raeside
Keywords: haiti | caribbean | mdn | cabbage palm | palm | royal palm | emperor palm | liberty cap | phrygian cap | anthem | duvalier |
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image by eljko Heimer, 10 November 2003
National and War Flag and Ensign
image by eljko Heimer, 30 October 2001
Civil Flag and Ensign
Official Name: Republic of Haiti (Republique d'Haiti)
Flag adopted: 17 February 1986 (Officially 29 march 1987)
Coat of Arms adopted: 25 February 1986
Constitution of 1987 (Article 3):
The emblem of the Haitian Nation shall be a flag with the following description:
Dov Gutterman, 7 January 1999
I have found the original French version (national languages in Haiti are
French and Creole) of the Constitution at: www.haiti-montreal.org
(Website of the General Consulate of Haiti in Montreal):
Les couleurs nationales sont: le bleu et le rouge. (National colours are: blue and red)
ARTICLE 3: as above, but: Les Armes de la République sont : Le Palmiste etc...
What is puzzling is that the original French text and the English translation do not refer to the same tree!
According to DOD Bourke's French-English horticultural dictionary (CAB International, 1989), palmette (Fr) = palmetto (En) = Sabal palmetto, palmiste (Fr) = cabbage palm (En) = Roystonea oleracea. Palm cabbage is the growing point eaten as a vegetable. DK Pocket Book calls the tree the 'royal palm', thus referring to local palmist species (Roystonea regia in Cuba, R. oleracea in Barbados, and R. borinquena in Puerto-Rico). I suggest to change 'palmetto' to 'cabbage palm' to avoid confusion. Smith (1976) calls it 'emperor palm', a palm I have not found in any of the botanical books I have searched in.
The motto on the emblem (L'Union fait la Force) is NOT the national motto, which is Liberte - Egalite - Fraternite, fide Article 4 of the Constitution , as erroneously reported in DK Pocket Book and Smith (1976 & 1980)
According to Album des Pavillons, the flag with the emblem is the national flag and ensign as well as the war ensign, and the 'plain' flag is the civil ensign. This is seconded in Pedersen (1970) showing the Duvalier's era flags (with black instead of blue) .DK Pocket Book shows the flag without the emblem, with the caption 'For official and state purposes, the flag is charged with the national arms on a central white disc . Smith (1976 & 1980) also shows the Duvalier version (black instead of blue) without emblem as state and war flag and ensign.
Ivan Sache, 12 December 1999
I have here a letter dated 1 December 1987 sent to Roman
Klimes by Ministère de l'Information et de la Coordination
of Haiti . It says more or less the same as your sources, with
the following details
- "Palmiste royal"
- flag 2,90 x 1,74 m
- a drawing b & w showing the flag with coa on a white rectangle 0,55 x 0,45 m
I also have a photo of President Preval in Jane's Defence Weekly dated 14 01 98, the white rectangle is much bigger in the flag than in your web photo.
When visiting me here on 25 September 1997, a Haitian hydrographer brought me a flag and told me that :
- the size of rectangle is variable
- blue should be the same as French blue but we often see a variable blue
- civil flags are without rectangle and coat of arms
- there is no war navy, air force (last aircrafts have been sold), so no jack, no aircraft markings.
Armand du Payrat, 13 December 1999
Palmiste royal agrees with royal or emperor palm mentioned in
my first message, so it makes sense to consider the tree as a
cabbage palm, locally called royal palm, in Latin Roystonea sp.
(sp. for species because the species status of this particular
palm is not clear).
Ivan Sache, 13 December 1999
I suddenly noticed that Sesam Encyclopedie (1977) has two
coloured plates of flags. Concerning Haiti (State flag), the
central rectangle noticeably larger, with the same ratio as the
flag. If there ever was an official description saying this
should be a square, than it's never followed; all flags I can
recall have always had clearly rectangular shapes in the center.
it's not exactly the same ratio as the above flag. The rectangle
takes almost half the height of the flag, and just over half the
length. The difference is just enough of to stop the rectangle
from looking like a flag (or hole) inside the flag, if one pays
attention to it.
I noticed we have the English description, and though we don't have the relevant part of the French description, we do have a link showing it. Both describe the white field as a square, but I would like to hear from anyone who ever saw an actual square white field on an Haiti flag. I'm beginning to think that, regardless of what the law says, even the Haiti government will most likely use an oblong field, simply because it fits the coat of arms better.
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 6 October 2000
At "Nouveau Petit Larousse Illustre" (1924) - Haiti:
Version with rectangle (not square), with a very wide image. I'd
say some three quarters of the rectangle's width is taken up by
flag cloth, or higher up by palm leaves, this being wider than
the rectangle's height.
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 29 October 2000
Pavillons Nationaux et Marques Distinctives [pay00] clearly states that:
- the flag with the arms is the National and War Flag and Ensign.
- the flag without the arms is the civil flag and ensign.
Note that Dorling-Kindersley Pocket Book shows the flag without the arms only and says "for official and state purposes the flag is charged with the national arms on a central white disc" (sic).
The flag is sometimes 3:4 in proportion and several variations in shade and size of the rectangle including the arms have been reported.
Ivan Sache, 5 January 2001
According to Album 2000 [pay00]
- Civil Flag and Ensign (C--/C-- 3:5) - Civil variant of the flag
is without the coat of arms, so just a blue over red bicolour.
This is the flag that once "inspired" Liechtenstein to
add the crown on
its flag. Recently we discussed an objection from a visitor, claiming that the flag with coat of arms is "true" national flag of Haiti. Either this has changed since 1930's (when the Liechtenstein "incident" happened) or indeed the visitor's perception of the
national flag is somewhat distorted.
eljko Heimer, 30 October 2001
National Geographic [gmc17]
show the coat of arms, state and civil flags (fig. 486, 490, 491)
that are virtually the same as those reportedly used today
according to Album 2000 [pay00] ,
with some differences in the representation of the coat of arms,
that could be ascribed to artistic rendition, and are of no
Flaggenbuch [neu92] agrees again, but giving the size of the coat of arms much bigger and more elongated (and again with different artistic rendition).
Smith [smi75c] and [smi82] show the 1964 version of the flags, vertically divided black and red.
eljko Heimer, 31 October 2001
The official dimensions quoted as being supplied by the
Ministry of Information on 1 September 1987, were, in fact, taken
from Article 3 of a Law of 1949 (published in 'Le Moniteur' of 18
September 1949) which was, in turn, based on the report of a
commission (appointed 3 May 1948) whose report was dated 10 June
The flag with arms replaced the bi-colour as National Flag under Article 3 of the Constitution dated 10 March 1987, where in all legislation before that date it was referred to as "The State/Official Flag and Naval Ensign (the plain bi-colour being referred to as the National Flag).
Christopher Southworth, 10 November 2003
Haiti celebrated its 200th anniversary of independence on 1
Jan 2004, and there were several news reports in German TV about
the celebrations and the riots there. During the celebrations all
the people listening to president Aristide's speech waved Haitian
flags with the coat of arms, in a rectangular field much bigger
than we have above. The flag seems to be widely used by the
"common" people (as far as people listening to the
president's speech can be called "common"), so this is
obviously not only the state/war flag, but also at least one
variant of the Haitian civil flag.
On the other hand, some protesters had two plain flags without coat of arms. So both versions are used as civil flag. It would be interesting to know, if the different usage is due to political reasons (with coat of arms = pro-government; without coat of arms = anti-government), or simply due to the fact, that poor protesters can't afford buying the flag with the coat of arms, but can just sew a plain flag from two pieces of cloth.
Marcus Schmöger, 3 January 2003
Could it be, perhaps, that most Haitians do not know the
Guillermo Aveledo Coll, 4 January 2003
Guillermo is probably right about the people of Haiti, and I,
myself, would probably disagree with many of my fellow
vexillologists about what constitutes a "National
Flag". However, none of us would disagree that where
the law (or the Constitution) states such and such a flag is the
'National Flag' of a country that is the flag we show here.
According to the Constitution/laws of Haiti, until a change in 1987 the plain bi-colour was the 'National Flag' and the flag with arms the State Flag and Naval Ensign.
Christopher Southworth, 4 January 2003
According to www.haiti-reference.com,
the 1987 constitution (which contain the text relating to the
flag) was officially ratified on 29 march, making this the
adoption date for the current flag. Note that the re-adoption by
the government is given as 17 February 1986 .
Marc Pasquin, 8 August 2004
Flags of participating nations are vertically displayed in the
arena where the Judo World Championships take place in Munchen
(Germany). The Haitian flag appears clearly to have non-rotated
arms (i.e. their basis remains parallel to the original flag
basis, now vertical.) I have not found reference to this case.
Since there is a ribbon with a motto below the arms, I would
expect a rotation of the arms to keep them horizontal and
Ivan Sache, 30 July 2001
In all sport events I have seen on TV, Haiti is represented by
the flag with coat of arms. All sources (except DK Pocket Book,
which mentions a disk!) agree that the flag with coat of arms is
not only the state flag and ensign, but also the national one,
whereas the flag without coat of arms is the civil flag and
Ivan Sache, 13 October 2001
According to Album 2000 [pay00] - National Flag (-SW/-SW 3:5) - Blue over red bicolour with rectangular white panel in the middle with the national coat of arms. The ratio of the panel itself is something like 4:5. It appears to be less the 1/3 of the hoist high, but it seems to me that this size is (and never was) firmly decided on.
I have seen on the BBC lately, two forms of state flags used
in Haiti. One was interesting in the fact that government
building shown in the background flew a flag like the one above
(with the arms and white area) in a small form, while in front of
the building, like in a park in front, it showed larger white
area and arms (like on the World Flag Database). Rarely does one
see only the red over blue flag with white area and arms in news
Steve Stringfellow, 18 February 2004
image by eljko Heimer, 30 October 2001
Note to the figure explains that beside this flag a variation
with lighter blue, larger panel and in ratio 3:4 is also used.
eljko Heimer, 30 October 2001
image by eljko Heimer, 10 November 2003
The protocol manual for the
London 2012 Olympics
(Flags and Anthems Manual
London 2012 [loc12]) provides recommendations
for national flag designs. Each
was sent an image of the flag, including the
PMS shades, for their approval by LOCOG. Once this was obtained, LOCOG produced
a 60 x 90 cm version of the flag for further approval. So, while these specs may
not be the official, government, version of each flag, they are certainly what
believed the flag to be.
For Haiti: PMS 293 blue, 032 red, 355 green, 125 brown, 102 yellow, 430 grey and black. The vertical flag is simply the horizontal version turned 90 degrees clockwise.
Ian Sumner, 10 October 2012
The Haitian flag anthem is shown at windowsonhaiti.com,
words by Christian Werleigh (My translation):
"Hail, beautiful Vertières flag
Holy emblem of the Union
Inspire us, Dessalines and Pétion's
On this great day of our history
The 18th of May 1803
Thou appeared to guide our rights
Towards the sun of victory
And the ruler trembled all over when he saw,
Announcing the new dawn,
His beautiful tricolour standard,
Looming up, diminished of the white
In front of Vertières flag
Which call us to union
Let us remember Dessalines and Pétion's
The French troops were defeated during the battle of Vertières (18 November 1803). Their capitulation allowed the proclamation of Haitian independence on 1 January 1804 Dessalines and Pe'tion's were among the leaders of the anti-French insurrection movement. The 18 May 1803 was the closing day of the Arcahaie congress (15-18 May 1803), during which Dessalines had been appointed general-in-chief of the insurrection army and had adopted the motto "L'indépendance ou la mort" (Independence or death) He also "diminished" the French Tricolor of its white stripe to design the first blue-and-red Haitian flag. The flag anthem is very popular in Haiti. It is sung during flag hoisting ceremonies in school, barracks etc.
Ivan Sache, 2 December 2000
A friend referred me to a special exhibit at www.egallery.com
- Click : The Electric Art Gallery: Haitian Voodoo Flags. Very
different designs from what we inculcate, but the purpose is very
John Ayer, 9 October 1999
In the Friday, March 5, 2010, issue of The Press Democrat
(Santa Rosa, California), there was an article
about a raffle of a Haitian
Pete Loeser, 6 March 2010
Studying the Smith's PhD thesis (see [smi69]), on page 228 there is a
brief description of a phenomenon i.e. a flag that was, as far as I
could remember, not mentioned on FOTW so far.
Let me quote Smith:
"President Duvalier of Haiti expresses the idea [of his exceptional characteristics qualifying him for leadership, noted eljko Heimer] succinctly, if rather badly, in a neon sign in Port-au-Prince which bears his portrait and the inscription "Je suis le drapeau de la nation, un et indivisible." ("I am the Flag of the Nation, One and Indivisible." - I guess :) )
This is followed with a footnote that is of further interest:
"Dr. Duvalier's portrait also frequently replaces the national coat of arms in the center of the Haitian flag."
I suppose that the Papa Doc's portrait in neon must have been an iconic image in 1960s when Smith was writing the thesis, relatively well known image from Haiti of the period - but it seems I cannot find it in the internet. Anyone have better luck? I suppose that such a portrait might have had relative popularity among his followers just as the portrait of Che Guevara had and still has.
A hasty interpretation of the footnote may suggest that the same drawing as the neon portrait was used in the flag - but when read more carefully, it does not imply it was the same graphic representation, simply "a portrait" of Duvalier. Does anyone have any info of any Papa Doc's portrait flag of Haiti? It would be black-red vertical bicolour with the portrait in the centre of it (on a white panel, I would imagine, but I may be wrong). One may guess that various portrait artwork may have been used. Certainly, these would be unofficial flags, probably used as hand weavers and other occasional ornamentation.
eljko Heimer, 5 April 2010