Awesome Flags You’ve Probably Never Seen Before

It’s been a while since I’ve talked about flags, hasn’t it? Well, today we’re fixing that!

In previous posts, I’ve told you about why some countries change their flags, and I’ve also discussed some of my favorite and least favorite flags. However, when you take up vexillology (the study of flags) as a hobby, you frequently encounter any number of flags that are not widely known by the general public. It’s a shame, too, since many of these flags are quite fascinating. So, today I’m going to share a few of my favorites.

National flags

Flag of Grenada image from Wikipedia

This is the flag of the tiny Caribbean island nation of Grenada. With a total area of merely 132.8 square miles and a population of 109,590, this small country found a way to symbolize itself with a flag far cooler and more interesting than those of some far larger and more populous countries.

Plain red banner and five stars? That's the best you could do, China?

Plain red banner and five stars? That’s the best you could do, China?

Designed by artist Anthony C. George, the Grenadian flag’s colors were chosen to represent courage (red), wisdom (yellow), and agriculture (green). The six stars along the edge represent the island’s six parishes, with the star in the middle representing Saint George’s, the capital city. The funny looking thing on the left-hand side is actually a nutmeg, representing the island’s nickname as “the island of spice”. Considering how little the artist had to work with as far as symbolism goes, it’s truly impressive that he was able to create such a beautiful design.

Grenada’s not the only island nation with a cool flag, though.

Flag of Kiribati image from Wikipedia

Kiribati is a nation in the Pacific Ocean made up of a collection of small islands near the equator. If nothing else, it’s flag is appropriate. I can imagine seeing a seabird in the sky as the sun rises over the ocean is probably a pretty common sight there. This banner proudly proclaims “we are a tropical paradise” to the world, and I say the proclamation is absolutely beautiful.

Flag of the Vatican City image from Wikipedia

While we’re on the subject of small countries, here is the flag of the world’s smallest country: Vatican City. The pope’s home has a banner that, not surprisingly, represents the Roman Catholic Church. The gold and white bars represent gold and silver, respectively, and the two keys on the flag are also gold and silver. The keys represent the “keys to heaven”, i.e. faith in Jesus Christ. The gold represents the spiritual while the silver represents the worldly. Of course, since this is the Vatican’s flag, the whole thing is topped off with the pope’s famously funny-shaped hat.

Still, the Vatican City’s flag is a fairly normal banner, all things considered. Not so the flag of Nepal:

Flag of Nepal image from Wikipedia

No, your eyes do not deceive you. This flag is in the shape of two triangles. Every other country in the world has a square or rectangular flag, but Nepal decided it just had to be different. Then again, when you consider that this banner is based on designs that date back 2,000 years, the decision not to “be square” makes a bit more sense.

Red is Nepal’s national color, the blue border represents peace, and the sun and moon are used to express the hope that Nepal will survive as long as those two celestial bodies remain in the sky. According to this video, the flag is also “the most mathematical flag in the world”, since its shape is based on principles of geometry.

Native American flags

I am willing to bet many of you didn’t know that Native American tribes often have their own flags, did you? As mentioned in a previous Cat Flag, these groups are legally considered “nations” of a sort by the U.S. government, and so, yes, many of them want to have a national flag of their own.

Navajo Flag image from Wikipedia

This flag represents the Navajo Nation. Designed by Jay R. DeGroat, the flag shows a map of the Navajo reservation with several symbols of modern Navajo life in the center. The mountain peaks surrounding the map represent both the four cardinal directions (north, south, east, and west) and the Navajo people’s four Sacred Mountains. Lastly, the rainbow represents the tribe’s sovereignty.

Pine Ridge Sioux Flag image from Wikipedia

This flag is far less complicated. Used by the Sioux of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. I like the basic idea of a circle of tepees in the shape of a sun. It is simple, elegant, and striking. It just looks cool, is what I’m saying.

Ojibwe Flag image from Wikipedia

Another entry in the “simple but striking” category. This flag is used by the Anishinaabe people of the Great Lakes area, who are also called “Ojibwe” or “Chippewa” in older texts. The flag depicts the Thunderbird, a sacred figure in their traditional mythology.

Wrong Thunderbird!

Wrong Thunderbird!

Historic flags

Of course, some of the coolest flags are found in history. There are plenty of countries that no longer exist but left behind some awesome banners for future generations of vexillologists to share. For example…

Flag of Ryuku image from Wikipedia

This flag was used by the Ryuku Kingdom that existed in what is now southern Japan from 1429 to 1879. The kingdom consisted of three tribal federations united under one ruler, which is probably why the flag has three stripes and a mon with three tails. Either way, it looks great, and it’s kind of a shame that the kingdom that used this flag had to go.

Flag of Sulu image from Wikipedia

Another country that left behind an awesome flag was the Sultanate of Sulu, which existed in parts of what is now Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines. I admit it, I am a sucker for ornate decorative motifs on flags. This actually just one of many, many flags the sultanate used over the centuries, but I personally think it is the prettiest of them all. It depicts the sun rising behind the Gates of Mecca, a motif that makes sense for a Muslim country.

Flag of the Republic of Venice image from Wikipedia

When it comes to ornate, though, it is hard to beat this flag used by the Republic of Venice. The flag depicts the Lion of St. Mark, a Christian symbol associated with the city for centuries. Local legend has it that St. Mark was travelling through the Roman Empire spreading the word of Jesus when he happened to get stuck in the lagoons that would eventually become Venice. It was here he had a vision of a winged lion telling him that he would be buried there. Eight centuries later, two Italian smugglers managed to steal St. Marks remains and bring them to Venice, where his remains are allegedly still buried today (though a church in Alexandria, Egypt disputes this). Meanwhile, the flag’s six tails represent the traditional six districts of the city of Venice.

So there you have it, Cat Flaggers, a sampling of some of my favorite flags from around the world. That should hopefully satisfy the “flag” part of “Cat Flag” for a while.

Cat Flag would like to take a moment on this Memorial Day to honor those who have died fighting under the flag of the United States, and remember the living veterans who have fought for our nation. We salute you.

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