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Dictionary of Vexillology: M (Model Flag - Mourning Ribbon)

Last modified: 2022-08-27 by rob raeside
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A model of pattern and colour, often fixed by law, after which actual flags are manufactured – an etalon or type flag (see also ‘flag law’, ‘official flag 1)’, ‘prototype flag 1)’, ‘specification’ and ‘specification sheet’).

[model flag example] [model flag example]
Flag of Yukon Territory, Canada (Design Details Established by Model Flag) (fotw); National Flag of Nigeria (Shade of Green defined by Model Flag)

The heraldic term for a coat of arms, or a charge, which has replaced a design formerly in use – see ‘ancient 1)’.

France modern France ancient
France Modern and France Ancient (fotw)

In heraldry see ‘cross moline’.

Moline cross
Flag of Chapelle-lez-Herlaimont, Belgium (fotw)

1) Generically, the term used to describe a simple, often (but not exclusively) circular design and the Japanese equivalent of a heraldic crest, badge or shield, originally a personal or family symbol, they are now also common in Japanese civic and provincial flags – but see 2) and the note below (also ‘daimyo flags’ and ‘hinomaru’).
2) Specifically, the term may be restricted to those Japanese flags showing a personal or family badge – a kamon or mondokoro (see also ‘imperial standard(s) 1)’ and ‘imperial standard(s) 2)’).

[Mon on Japanese flag] [Mon on Japanese flag] [Mon]
Flag of Aogashima Island, Japan (fotw); Flag of Fukuoka, Japan (fotw); Standard of the Imperial Family at Sea 1875 - 1889, Japan (fotw).

Please note with regard to 1) that the symbol on Japanese sub-national flags is often a stylized version of the appropriate ideogram, and should be considered therefore, the equivalent of a monogram or cipher rather than of a crest, badge or shield.

See ‘mon 2)

Standard of The Empress of Japan (fotw)

1) The terms used when the illustration of a flag, or of a coat of arms, is rendered in tones or shades of a single colour, often (but by no means invariably) black/grey on white (see also ‘hatching’).
2) The terms also used when a flag uses only black and white in its design.
3) See ‘monocolour’.

[Crikvenica - monocolour] [Union flag] [Trengganu]
Flag of Crikvenica, Croatia shown in Monochrome (fotw & CS); Union Flag in Monochrome (flikr); National Flag of Trengganu, Malaysia (fotw)

1) The terms used when a flag is composed of a single colour – a unicolour or unicoloured
2) The terms also sometimes employed to describe the field of a flag which is largely (but not entirely) plain - see ‘plain 2)’.

[Fujairah] [Kedah]
National Flag of Fujairah (now part of the UAE) (fotw); Flag of Kedah, Malaysia (fotw)

A motif formed by one or more letters, formerly often intertwined and now more usually seen plain, as for example, on the royal standard of Belgium and some presidential flags of France – a cipher or ligature (this last especially if of only two letters) - but see ‘royal cypher 1)’.

[Monograms on flags] [Monograms on flags] [Monograms on flags]
Royal Standard of Belgium 1993 - 2013 (fotw); Presidential Flag of France 1969–74 (fotw); Princely Standard of Monaco (fotw)

1) In vexillology see ‘crescent 1)’ and ‘disc’ (also ‘waning or waxing moon’).
2) In heraldry the term used for a crescent that is placed with its horns pointing upward - but see notes below and ‘crescent 2)’.

moon moon moon
Flag of Čepin, Croatia (fotw); Flag of Waltenheim, France (fotw); National Flag of Palau (fotw)

a) With regard to 2), when a crescent moon is shown with its horns towards the dexter it is termed increscent or increment, towards the sinister decrescent or decrement, and towards the base inverted or reversed, when however, it is shown full (usually with a face) the term used is per complement.
b) A crescent with a face is occasionally seen in European heraldry.

Boswil, Switzerland
Arms of Boswil, Switzerland (Wikipedia)

See ‘colours 5)’.

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

1) The current system of signalling with flags (or with the arms alone in the absence of flags) using the Morse code, where if hand-held vertically (above the head) they signify dots and if held horizontally (at shoulder level) dashes (see also ‘international code of signals’, ‘semaphore’ and ‘wigwag’).
2) A system, now obsolete, of signalling with a single flag using the Morse code, where short waves signified dots and long waves dashes - signalling by flag waving (see also ‘semaphore’ and ‘wigwag’).

1) is contained in the current (2005) Edition of the International Code of Signals, and 2) had reasonably widespread use in the field prior to radio, both between artillery batteries and forward observers, and for communication between naval and army units ashore.
b) The 1937 (British) Admiralty Manual of Seamanship gave the Morse code flags as plain blue, or white with a blue horizontal stripe (against light or dark backgrounds respectively), but that other variants are known to have existed.

In heraldry see ‘masoned’.

mortared mortared
Flag and Arms of Vrgorac, Croatia (fotw)

A word or phrase, sometimes in a classical language, usually inscribed on the scroll accompanying a coat of arms or state emblem, and originally derived from the war cry (see also ‘Appendix IV’, ‘device 1)’ and ‘scroll’).

“Evil Be To Him Who Evil Thinks”, The Motto of the Order of the Garter in Old French, UK

The alternative heraldic terms for the base of a shield, banner of arms or a flag that forms a curve, and is generally (but not exclusively) tinctured vert in order to represent a grassed hillock – a mound; see ‘compartment’ (also ‘coupeau’, ‘tincture’ and ‘vert’).

Mount Mount Mount
Flag of Merenschwand, Switzerland (fotw); Flag of Brdovec, Croatia (fotw); Flag of Monte Córdova, Portugal (fotw)

In heraldry see ‘coupeau’ (also ‘mount’ above).

mount of coupeau example
Flag of Kirchberg, Switzerland (fotw)

In US – particularly fire fighting – usage, a length of gathered decorative fabric generally in black/purple (as a mourning version of the red-white-blue national bunting), and draped between two anchor points to signify mourning for the death of a colleague - see ‘bunting 2)’ (also ‘fan’).

Mourning bunting

Please note that these colours are also seen in flag form.

Mourning bunting
Mourning/Funeral Flag, US (fotw)

An often (but not invariably) plain black flag of slightly varying design, displayed (sometimes unofficially) by organisations and persons to signify mourning for people or events, often (but not invariably) for political reasons – not to be confused with a mourning pennant, pall flag or funeral flag (see ‘funeral flags’, ‘mourning pennant’ below and ‘pall flag’, also ‘cravat 2)’, ‘draping’ and 'half mast a flag').

Mourning flags - Croatia, Denmark Mourning flag - Denmark until 1743 Vietnam mourning flag
Mourning Flag: In Widespread Use; Demark until 1743 (fotw) and Vietnam (fotw)

In Western European usage, a largely black triangular pennant of slightly varying design, flown from the mainmast of vessels on inland waterways to signify mourning for the skipper or his spouse (see also ‘mourning flag’ above).

Catholic Mourning Pennants Protestant Mourning Pennants
Catholic and Protestant Mourning Pennants (Litzke GmbH)

See ‘draping’ (also ‘cravat 2)’).

[draped flag]
National Flag of Denmark Draped with a Mourning Ribbon/Cravat (fotw)

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