Hilarity with Heraldry (educational chit-chat, I guess)

@atorrante inspired me to make this topic here when the question about flags for user profiles came up earlier this week. A name like “Fun with Flags” ventures into vexillology, but I like heraldry more, so I came up with a different name.

What I want this topic to start with, because it ties in with everybody’s favourite board game and I myself have a personal connection to it, is this coat of arms here.

Wappen des Kantons Freiburg
armoiries du Canton de Fribourg
Arms of the Canton of Fribourg


Geteilt von Schwarz und Silber
coupé de sable et d’argent
per fess sable and argent

These arms seem to be in continuous use since the foundation of the city of the same name in 1157, who in turn eventually developped arms on her own (a white castle on a blue field). In the days of the old city-state, starting 1477 with the independence from Savoy, a combination of both arms was used for any purpose, but after the French revolution reached Switzerland, and city and canton became separate entities, the Black-and-White was used for the Canton and the other for the City alone.

Legend has it, that the founder, Berthold IV, Duke of Zähringen got lost hunting in the woods and found a coaler’s hut, where he could spend the night. The next day, he found that the coaler made his bed from flour bags while covering him with coal bags as a blanket, making his clothes black on top and white on the bottom. Berthold thus made them the colours of the city he is about to build.

Today, these arms and a flag with the same colours is used by authorities of the canton for many purposes such as decoration of buildings, car licence plates, letterheads, sigils, and police emblems. The general populace is free to fly them whenever they like. Unlike other countries we’re quite relaxed about flags.

The tax declaration form I receive every year as well as my old school reports feature them too. Also, the traditional cattle from our region is black-and-white. There used to be a distinct breed, the Fribourgeoise, but it went extinct in the 20th century. Today, we have Holstein of the same colours.

Yeah, so much for now.

Who’s got something interesting to say about a flag or coat of arms or japanese Mon they like or invented (or both)?


There are four ancient flags still being used in England, besides the flag of England itself: those of Essex, Sussex, Kent, and the City of London (which is not the entire modern city but only a small, historical portion including its most important financial institutions and companies.)

This is the latter, a St. George’s cross defaced with a small red dagger in the upper left quadrant.


This is believed to be the result of a lifelike figure of St. George bearing a sword, like that on the flag of Moscow, being dramatically reduced to leave only the weapon.


However, there has long been a fable that the symbol actually represents the dagger used by the Mayor of London to wound Wat Tyler, leader of the failed Peasants’ Revolt of 1831; however, there is evidence that the arms were in fact designed several months before the altercation.

Wikipedia discusses the event, which followed the breakdown of a meeting between the rebels and government:

Sir John Newton (a servant of the king) insulted Tyler by calling him “the greatest thief and robber in all Kent”. Tyler attacked Newton, but was restrained and arrested by the Lord Mayor of London, William Walworth. Tyler then attempted to stab the mayor, who was saved by his armour. Walworth slashed Tyler across the neck and head with his sword

A related poem reads

Brave Walworth, Knight, lord mayor that slew
Rebellious Tyler in his alarmes;
The king therefore did give him in lieu
The dagger to the city armes.


How can I not add a post to this being so warmly and tolerantly invited by @Sanonius?
Simple answer: I can’t.

The Netherlands (Holland) have thirteen provinces. Each has their own character, but Friesland definitely has more character than the rest. When visiting Friesland, don’t refer to it as being a part of Holland. You might meet the fate of Saint Boniface in 754 near Dokkum, who - while attempting to christen the Friesians - was murdered.
Below you see the flag of Friesland.
(The hearts in the flag are not hearts but pompeblêden: leaves of the yellow water lily and the European white waterlily.)


Friesland is also known for it lakes where you can sail, Berenburg (a herbal bitter) and Fries suikerbrood (sugar bread).


Dit is in prachtige flagge!


Dank je wel, een van de mooiste die ik ken.


In July 1949, a contest was announced for a national flag for the newly founded People’s Republic of China (PRC) [with] a total of about 3,000 proposed designs

Some examples from the Wikipedia page:

Looks like the start of a film trailer

An envelope

Cosplaying as Austria

With the Chinese invention of necromancy, mere death was no longer an obstacle to patriotic service


The province I live in, called Groningen, has the following flag:

Since the people here are not as chauvinistic as the Friesians, it’s a flag that isn’t seen all too often.
Groningen is a very rural province, with only one real city (also called Groningen) and one of the poorest provinces as well (being far away from the main cities, the outer provinces are usually neglected when talking about spending money). However, it’s an important province for the Netherlands, since there is a large natural gas field under it, which has been exploited since discovery and is currently nearing completion.

The problem is: emptying a natural gas field causes earthquakes, especially in its later stages, thus our province, built on sea clay and with houses absolutely not able to withstand earthquakes, has slowly been falling apart, while the gas company (owned by the government) is finding every legal way possible to evade paying up for the damages. This has lead to the following protest flag, which is suddenly appearing just about everywhere in the province:

The government has decided (in 2018) that the gas company should stop exploiting the gas field (before 2030), and they’re still quite stubborn in paying up for the damages.


This ensign was displayed in war by the navy of the Joseon Dynasty of Korea, and must be considered one of the most special of all flags. Why?

The curious, detailed patterns on its field represent a mathematical diagram called the Lo Shu or Nine Halls. If you count up the dots in each line-connected group, and envisage them as a 3 x 3 grid (counting the centre as a 5), you’ll find that every row, column, and diagonal sums to fifteen. The Lo Shu diagram is an important part of traditional Sino-Korean culture, and is stated by legend to have appeared on the shell of a turtle.


I saw this one in the museum of Hydra (Greek island, close to Athens) a while back and to be honest I kinda found it… colorful.

It’s the flag of the island of Hydra during the Greek Revolution (the 1800s one, there are others).
Unfortunately, I can’t find a photo of the exact flag at the museum, but another version here

As you can see, the general idea was “put on every symbol possible”, basically the symbols of the revolution, plus an anchor, plus symbols for Orthodox Christians. The museum employee who explained all was very informative, I regret not taking notes, since everything was highly symbolic.

The inscription is (not literal translation) “either bring it (your shield) back, or be brought on it (dead)”, the ancient Spartan logo.
EDIT: Literally “either it, or on it”.

In true Greek fashion, they used the words of notoriously sea-averse Spartans on one of the most formidable navy forces of the era, because it’s catchy.


Yeah, Greek flags often look cluttered to me. I used to scrub off the writing in an image editor so I could add them to my Anki guessing deck. I like this unofficial flag of Greek Macedonia, though:


The device is the Vergina Sun or Macedonian Star, discovered on the lamax (coffin) of King Philip II or III of Macedon. Originally, the country now known as North Macedonia used a very similar flag. According to Wikipedia:

Greece considers the Vergina Sun to be a Greek symbol and imposed a year-long economic embargo in order to force the then Republic of Macedonia to remove it from its flag, resulting in the current design.

For comparison, the modern flag:


Flag of Ionian islands when they were under the British for a brief period, although they were referred to as Stati Uniti delle Isole Ionie

I would have never guessed if I didn’t know about it.

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I always confuse that flag with the Japanese Imperial Army one, although the colors are different.

The union jack has been on more flags than any other device in world history.

Countries and territories using or having once used a defaced blue (state) or red (civil) ensign include as their flag or ensign include Alderney, Guernsey, Jersey (Channel Islands), the Isle of Man, Anguilla, Bermuda, Montserrat, Australia, New Zealand, Canada (until 1965), Gibraltar, Turks & Caicos, the Cayman, Falkland, Pitcairn, and British Virgin Islands, Hong Kong, aforementioned Ionian Islands, Weihaiwei (never even heard of this place before), Newfoundland, South Africa, Fiji, the Cook Islands, Tuvalu, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Tanganyika (Tanzania), and India and many princely states within / around it. Add to that a huge number of small organisations, lighthouse authorities, standards of minor officials, yacht clubs…

We could have a very capable guessing game with only defaced British Ensigns.


Take for instance this utterly obscure piece of leased Chinese land, Weihaiwei, controlled by the British for 32 years.

It had its defaced blue ensign:


But also a private flag of the Commissioner, rejected in 1903 for being too Chinese:


And its replacement:


Hell, my OGS flag is of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, a handful of rocks near Antarctica with no permanent population:


But if I wished to, I could replace it with the older pre-1999 version, using the old-styled circle badge:


And so on…


Hey, so they are not hearts after all? That spoils quite a bit of fun from back when Heerenveen football team used to play against the Greek teams in Champion’s League and UEFA cup.

By God, up there on the second flag, where the bird is feeding the snake, I am sooooo inclined to write ESPA over it and turn it into a meme with the caption “drawing funds before it was cool” (for non-Greeks ESPA is the national plan for the economic growth for the decade, largely funded by EU :stuck_out_tongue: )

Now since hilarity is part of the topic, I think that noone can concievably top this defacement of the herald of our national guard batallion in the island of Samos (named 79 ΑΔΤΕ). In a tale I can hardly believe myself, the commander of the force wanted to issue a limited edition wine of all things, so they asked me - who was serving my mandatory draft time there - to make a wine label that would have the herald of the unit and the unit motto “Freedom needs virtue and boldness” (“Θέλει αρετήν και τόλμην η ελευθερία”) by the Poet Andreas Kalvos - who oddly enough was NOT from Samos and whom I despise - and this is the unfortunate and hillarious result :

Thank God, the wine itself never happened, because it was just one of the totally madcap ideas the commander had which never came to pass. So many years have passed since then, and I still cannot decide if this is a laughing matter or one of those facepalm till you drop ones. So, I do both every time I remember this :stuck_out_tongue:

That is the actual unit herald/banner:


Above you see pompeblêden.
Clearly not hearts because hearts have a sharp point.
Sorry to spoil your fun @JethOrensin
I believe the Friesian comment was: bloody foreigners.


Is this

  • Flag of the Sulu Sultanate
  • A cuckoo clock

0 voters

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It is certainly not a cat, but another CATegory.

But they are green and with quite a narrow divide between their two sides. Why are they red and wider in the flag? :thinking:
We have those plants too, but I’d have never made the connection to be honest.

The evolution of the flag of Cambodia is quite interesting.

  1. The basic design, with its signature device representing Angkor Wat (1843-1948). The field is mostly red.


  1. '48-70: The temple and red field shrink.


  1. '70-75. They continue to shrink. The stars represent Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha amongst other things.


  1. '75-76: Returned to the stripe version.

  2. '76-79: Minimal design overhaul!


  1. '79-89: Getting fancier…


  1. '89-92: Returning to the ornate style with the fanciest temple yet.


  1. '92-93: You know you f***ed up when the UN takes over


  1. '93 - present: Back to the classic stripe version once again.