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Dictionary of Vexillology: R (Race Signals - Rays)

Last modified: 2024-06-01 by rob raeside
Keywords: vexillological terms |
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Those flags flown by a racing committee, and used to signal conditions, intentions or instructions to race competitors (see also ‘international code of signal flags’, ‘preparatory flag’, ‘prize flag’ and ‘racing flag 1)’).

race signal flag race signal flag race signal flag 
Individual and General Recall - Flag X (X-Ray) and First Substitute in the ICS; Disqualified (fotw and CS)

1) A flag flown from a yacht that is taking part in a race, and struck if it withdraws or when it crosses the finish line (see also ‘preparatory flag’, ‘prize flag’, ‘race signals’ and ‘strike’).
2) In UK usage a flag that was flown by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh aboard his personal yacht whilst taking part in a race (see also ‘personal flag 1)’).
3) See ‘race signals’.

racing flag racing flag racing flag
“I Intend to Protest” and “Boat Incurring Penalty” (CS & fotw); Racing Flag of HRH Prince Phillip 1921-2021, UK (fotw)

A term that may be used to describe the orientation of a charge, particularly (but not exclusively) that of a star – the rotational position (see also ‘star 1)’).

Turkey Sarawak Bhutan
Flags of Selangor and Sarawak (fotw); National Flag of Bhutan.

a) The star on the flag of Selangor has its outer point orientated towards the fly.
b) That of Sarawak has its inner point along the diagonal meridian.
c) Whilst the national flag of Bhutan has a dragon similarly orientated.

(adj) The heraldic term for rays that expand from a central point, but which may also be applied to other charges and to ordinaries that are similarly arranged – rayonné or rayonnant - but see ‘radiated’ and the note below (also ‘gyronny’, ‘ordinary’ and ‘radiating’).

Harare Armsl - Zakliczyn, Poland Flag - Zakliczyn, Poland
Flag of Harare, Zimbabwe (fotw) Arms and Flag of Zakliczyn, Poland (fotw)

Please note that the vexillological term for rays spreading out from a central point is radiating – see ‘radiating 1)’.

(adj) A heraldic term used when rays are seen issuing from a charge for example the Madonna radiated as shown below but see ‘radiant’ (also ‘radiating’ and ‘sun-in-splendour’).

Xaxim, Brazil Glogów. Poland Šuto Orizari, Macedonia
Flag of Xaxim. Brazil (fotw); Arms of Głogów, Poland (fotw); Flag of Šuto Orizari, Macedonia (fotw)

1) (adj) Rays spreading out from or near the central point and widening towards the edge of a flag as in, for example, the naval ensign of Japan, or the national flag of North Macedonia – but see ‘beam(s) 1)’ and the note below (also ‘active’, ‘inactive’, ‘radiant’, ‘radiated’, ‘sunburst’, and compare with ‘gyronny’).
2) See ‘expanding stripe(s)’ (also ‘converging stripes’).
3) (adj) A group of objects or charges placed in an arc (usually from one fixed point) as on the national flags of China and Adygea.

[radiating flags] [radiating flags] [radiating flags]
National Flag of Seychelles (fotw); National Flag of China (fotw); National Flag of the North Macedonia (fotw)

Please note with regard to 1) that the heraldic term for rays spreading out from a central point is radiant – see ‘radiant’.

A traditional symbol of Burgundy and later Spain, and a cross (more accurately saltire) composed of diagonal bars with small projections – a burgundy cross, cross raguly or ragged cross of burgundy – see ‘raguly’ (also ‘saltire’).

Spanish naval flag 16th-17th century Infantry Colour 1693 Ferrol Squadron 1732-1760
Spanish Naval Flag 16-17th C (fotw); Infantry Colour 1693, Spain (fotw); Flag of the Ferrol Squadron 1732-1760, Spain (fotw)

A heraldic term meaning any number of small regular projections set an angle on both sides (or on one side only) of a bar, cross or saltire and thought to represent a roughly trimmed branch – see ‘ragged cross’ and ‘cross raguly 2)’.

raguly raguly raguly
Flag of Gloucester, Canada (fotw); Arms of Střemy, Czechia (fotw); Flag of Vrchovany, Czechia (fotw)

See ‘dressing lines’ (also ‘dress ship’).

1) One of several flags showing the colours of the rainbow, with prominent examples being the gay pride flag illustrated below and those of the various peace movements illustrated under peace flag - see ‘peace flag’ (also ‘multi-stripe’).
2) An unofficial nickname for the national flag of South Africa.

[Rainbow flag] [Rainbow flag] [Rainbow flag]
The Current Gay Rights Flag (fotw); Flag of the International Cooperative Movement 1925 – 2001 (fotw); National Flag of South Africa (fotw)

1) The act of having displayed a flag.
2) See ‘enhanced

A term used for the increasingly obsolete practice of inserting a layer of padding between the surface of a military colour (or of a flag) and its (usually but not invariably) embroidered main charge in order to give a three dimensional effect – a padded emblem or charge – see ‘piping’ (also ‘colour 2)’, ‘embroider’ and ‘padding the sleeve’).

[raised detail]
Raised Detail on a Ceremonial Flag of San Cristóbal de la Laguna, Tenerife, Spain (Klaus-Michael Schneider)

The heraldic term used when an animal, particularly (but not exclusively) a lion, is depicted rearing on its hind legs with forepaws and claws extended – but see ‘combatant’, ‘erect’, ‘forcené’, ‘salient’ and ‘segreant’.

[rampant] [rampant] [rampant]
Flag of South Holland, The Netherlands (fotw); Flag of Windisch, Switzerland (fotw); Royal Banner of Scotland (fotw)

A flag used on firing ranges to signal dangerous conditions (see also ‘red flag 1)’).

[range flag]
Danger Flag (CS)

1) A flag which signifies the rank of a military officer as opposed to that of a civilian functionary - but please see ‘flag of command’, ‘individual flag’ and ‘tugh’ (also ‘class flag’, ‘flag officer 3)’, ‘in abeyance’ and ‘rank plate’).
2) An alternative term for a distinguishing flag (see ‘distinguishing flag’).

[rank flags] [rank flags] [rank flags]
Rank Flags of a General, Lt General and Major General, Thailand (fotw)

Please note, that although these terms are sometimes considered interchangeable, the Editors have drawn a general distinction between the command flags used by senior naval officers, the rank flags employed by officers from the other armed services, the distinguishing flags of civilians and with personal flags.

In UK, US and some other usage, a rectangular panel that is displayed on the vehicle carrying a senior officer of the armed services, and used in place of or in addition to their relevant rank flag or flag of command – an automobile, distinguishing or star plate (see also ‘car flag’, ‘flag of command 1)’, ‘flag officer 3)’, ‘flag disc’ and ‘rank flag 1)’).

rank plate UK Field Marshal rank plate US Army/Marine Corps five star general rank plate Royal Navy Commodore/Royal Marine Brigadier rank plate USN Ream Admiral (Lower Half)/US Air Force Brigadier General
Field Marshall UK and Five Star General Army and Marine Corps US (CS); Commodore Royal Navy and Brigadier Royal Marines UK, Rear Admiral (Lower Half) USN and Brig Gen USAF (CS)

The number of stars range between one and five dependent upon the rank of the officer concerned.
b) In US service officers of the army and the Marine Corps have red plates, whilst those of the USN and USAF have dark blue. In UK service, however, officers of the army have red, of the RN and Royal Marines dark blue, and of the RAF light blue (and that there is a combined services plate whose field is of vertical stripes in dark blue, red and light blue).

An industrial term used to described the repetitive pattern found in damask, and seen in the field of (usually high-quality) flags manufactured in that fabric.

Banner of Zagreb c1711, Croatia (Željko Heimer)

Symbolic of the Rastafarian movement, and (like the pan-African colours and identical to them) based upon the flag of Ethiopia – see ‘pan-African colours’.

Imperial Ethiopia flag Rastafarian flag Rastafarian flag
State Flag of Ethiopia 1941 – 1974 (fotw); Two Examples of Rastafarian Flags (fotw)

See ‘proportions’.

flag ratio

The image of a venomous snake (usually accompanied by the motto “don’t tread on me”) that is depicted either coiled or stretched - it appeared on several early American flags and could be seen on the recent US naval jack.

Rattlesnake flag  Rattlesnake flag  Rattlesnake flag
Military Colour c1776 (fotw); Flag of the South Carolina Navy c1779 (fotw); Naval Jack 2002 – 2019, US (fotw)

The flag considered by some sources to have been carried by Viking raiding parties up until the 11th Century, and to have been carried by the Normans at the Battle of Hastings (1066) (see also ‘Bayeux tapestry’).

[Raven flag]

Alternative heraldic terms for radiant - see ‘radiant’.

Flag of Tibet (fotw)

In Scandinavian heraldry the term for a series of flame- or tooth-like projections from a division line or an ordinary – a term, as far as can be discovered, not used in English heraldry (see also ‘flammully’ and ‘wolves teeth 2)’).

rayonne rayonne rayonne
Flag and Arms of Sør-Varanger, Norway (fotw); Flag of Berlevåg, Norway (fotw)

1) The terms sometimes (and correctly) used in place of pointed to describe the number of such points on a sun emblem – see ‘sun emblem’ and ‘pointed’ (also ‘active’, ‘active and inactive’, and ‘inactive’).
2) See ‘beam(s) 1)’.

rayed rayed rayed
Flag of the Socialist Party, Kurdistan (fotw); Flag of Ngardmau, Palau (fotw); Flag of Čaška, Macedonia (fotw)

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