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Dictionary of Vexillology: M (Magen David - Maltese Cross)

Last modified: 2024-06-01 by rob raeside
Keywords: vexillological terms |
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The Shield or Star of David composed of two interlaced triangles forming a six pointed star, and symbolic of Judaism (see also ‘menorah’).

Israel Israel Israel
Naval Ensign, National Emblem and Civil Ensign of Israel (fotw and Wikipedia)

Please note that the Magen David is also known as the Seal of Solomon and as such may be represented as a pentagram of with five points as it now appears on the flags of Ethiopia and Morocco (based on the Hebrew Encyclopaedia) - see ‘pentagram’.

National Emblem of Ethiopia

See ‘golden mean’.

[divided example]
National Flag of Togo in the golden mean/magic ratio (fotw)

See ‘postal flag’.

mail flag  mail flag
Flag of the Mail/Postal Service, Russia (fotw); Royal Mail Pennant, UK (fotw)

(adv) The phrase used when a flag is flown from the truck of a ship’s mainmast it is described as being “at the main” – see ‘mainmast’ (also ‘mast’, ‘masthead’, ‘masthead pennant 1)’ and ‘truck’).

[at the fore example]
Flag of an Admiral c1850, Austria/Hungary (fame)

Please note that in the sailing/steam-assisted navy, the command flag of a full-admiral was formerly flown in this position (also ‘balls of difference’, ‘flag of command’ and ‘flagship’).

The most important mast in a ship or yacht, or the tallest mast in a sailing warship from which the masthead pennant was formerly flown – but see ‘main, at the’ (also ‘foremast’, ‘mast 2)’, ‘masthead’ and ‘mizzen’).

In heraldry see ‘ordinary’.

[chief example] [cross example] [pale example] [saltire example] [fess example] [pile example] [chevron example] [quarter example] [bend example]
Examples: Chief; Cross; Pale; Saltire; Fess; Pile; Chevron; Quarter; Bend

See ‘stand of colours 1)’ and ‘venn’.

[Major’s Colours example] [Major's Colours example]
Examples of Major’s Colours, English c1641 (fotw)

(v) To hoist that group of signal flags which identify a ship in a recognized code code – a term now increasingly obsolete – see ‘call sign hoist’ and the note below (also ‘International Code of Signal Flags’, ‘pendant number’, ‘private signal 3)’ and ‘signal flag’).

ICS flag ICS flag ICS flag ICS flag
MTLQ in the 1866 Commercial Code of Signals – from 1880 The International Code of Signals - and the “number” of SS Australia (P&O Lines) c1898

Please note that use of two flags to indicate the country of registration applies only to a call sign hoist in the current International Code.

See ‘colours 5)’.

Naval Ensign UK  Naval Ensign RSA
Naval Ensign, UK (fotw); Naval Ensign South Africa 1952 – 1981 (fotw)

1) In correct heraldic/vexillological usage the term for a cross made up of four arrowheads, with straight-sided arms, eight outward facing points and four inner points which meet at the centre – a cross of (the order of) St. John of Jerusalem or a cross Maltese.
2) In less precise usage this term can include a cross of the Maltese pattern which does not have four points meeting in the centre – a cross pattιe fourche, cross of eight points or a Maltese-like cross – but see note a) below (also ‘cross fourché’).

Maltese Cross Maltese Cross Maltese cross
Flag of the Grand Master of the Military Order of Malta (fotw); Flag of Portel, Portugal (fotw); Flag of Bardonnex, Switzerland (fotw)

a) With regard to 2) in strict heraldic terms a cross of this type should be correctly called a “cross pattιe fourche” as referenced above.
b) The cross on the national flag of Malta is not a Maltese cross but is the emblem of a British order of gallantry – the George Cross – see ‘George cross’.

See ‘Maltese cross 2)’.

Maltese-like cross
Flag of Leuggern, Switzerland (fotw)

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