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Slovakian Municipal flags: Introduction
Last modified: 2009-08-15 by jarig bakker
Keywords: city | municipality | typology |
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I have received from a visitor of my pages a photocopy of a poster with
Slovakian municipal coats of arms and flags. The poster is issued by Slovenska
genealogicko-heraldicka spolocnost pri Matici slovenskoj 1996. There
are 136 coats of arms on the poster around the map of Slovakia with flags on the
sites of the cities on it. All Slovak municipal flags are swallow-tailed,
and with no exception with simple geometric divisions. Most of them are
horizontally divided in 2,3,4,5 and even more stripes usually in several
colors, seemingly based on the colors of the coats of arms . Several are quartered
in 4 and some in 6 fields. Some are of saltire pattern, and just a few
are simple monocolored, or with a border.
Željko Heimer, 18 Dec 1997.
During my visit of Slovakia last year I bought the map with Slovak Civic
Coats of Arms and Flags (edited by "Slovenská geneaologická a heraldická
spolocnost pri Matici slovenskej", 1996) mentioned by Željko Heimer. I
also have the book "Erby a vlajky miest v Slovenskej republike" (Ministry
of Internal affairs, Bratislava 1991) and I suppose, that this is the main
source for the former Tatrarevue and for FOTW. Since the book was edited
in 1991, some of them are not valid anymore. Professor Jozef Novák, Slovak
Heraldic, one of the authors of that book had a questionable theory:
in his opinion the figures (or characters) of Saints shouldn't be used
as the main figure. In a "correct" Coat of arms that is always a character
replaced by his (or her) Attributes. His "scientific" theory was based
on the fact, that many Saints were in Seals and some of them were really
this way replaced - e.g.: St. Catherine was in coat of arms of Kremnica
replaced by the "broken wheel" and the letter "C" for Latin "Cremnicia"
for Kremnica ).
Aleš Křížan, 22 Jan 2001
Typology of Slovak Civic Flags
Very strict regulations for the approval of municipal flags led to a standardized
system of uniform and simple patterns in Slovakia. They might be criticized
for not leaving enough self-determination to the local authorities; on
the other hand they created a very clear vexillological typology and simple
distinguishable flag designs.
In 1975 the Heraldic Commission was established by the Slovak Ministry
of the Interior in order to revise old and approve new civic arms of all
Slovak towns. During this process the commission came to the conclusion
that towns should get their own flags as well. The commission itself made
proposals for the design of the 135 town flags.
The design principles were laid down as follows:
The commission finished its work in 1990 and published the result in a
book, which enables us to analyse the design patterns.
Flags have to be as simple in design as possible
Flags have to be manufactured easily and at low costs
Shields of the arms are not allowed on the flags
Town flags should be swallow-tailed to get a clear distinction between them
and state flags
105 Flags, that is more than 70%, have horizontal bars (2-9). Only
six other patterns were accepted for traditional reasons: one monocolored
flag and two with a border in another color, because they already existed,
ten quartered flags, because their arms consisted of four elements, ten
flags with saltires, derived from crossed mining tools or saltired in the
arms, and seven with three cuts, derived from the Slovak double cross in
their arms. And last but not least a unique pattern, a vertical bar at
the hoist and two horizontal ones at the fly.
Regarding the colors: most flags have only combinations of two, predominantly
red and white. Among three color combinations dominates blue-yellow-white.
Four colors are only used in four-bars (with one exception).
As soon as the publication was available communities not having township
status started contacting the Heraldic Committee asking for proposals for
their own arms and flags. The committee having the dilemma to keep the
nation-wide uniform system on the one hand and to gain distinguishable
flag design for rural communities on the other, decided two additional
rules for the latter:
Since 1992 about 300 flags were codified by the committee. The Ministry
of the Interior has published in its official periodical 155 of them up
till now. It is the basis of our presentation of Slovak flag types in rural
Community flags should have a double-swallow-tail
Community flags may have stripes of different width
As the adoption of new flags is still going on there might be more
variants of striped flags. Fifty percent of the striped flags have bars
of equal width, the proportion 1:1:2:1:1 is used most. Among the equal
ones four-, five- and seven-bars predominate; eight- and nine-bars are
very seldom. Two colors are seldom as well, combinations of BYW, RYW, YWN
and BYVW are preferred.
Apart from the various combinations of stripe width and colors there
is a greater difference compared to town flags in shape. An aesthetic problem
occurs with the intersection of the double-swallow-tail and the different
number and width of stripes. Therefore the swallow-tails were formed in
three different ways.
Gunnar Staack, (published in: Flag Data Bank, No. 11, December
Alexy, Zdenko G. "Slovak civic flags and banners", in "Proceedings
of the 15th International Congress of Vexillology", Zollikofen 1999.
"Erby a vlajky miest v Slovenskej republike" (Ministry
of Internal affairs, Bratislava 1991)
"Verejná Sprava", Bratislava 1992-1999; A. Brožek has provided
the relevant data
Jarig Bakker, 1 Jan 2001
Am I wrong in assuming that this pattern is in a way a novelty among
the town flags? I mean, the vertical partition combined with entirely different
horizontal one. I remember someone posted (or I read somewhere) the classification
of the patterns used for city flags (those with two tails), and I am wondering
is someone following the development here too.
Anyway, nice to see some variety in what is apparently (only on first
glance) a boring series of horizontally divided multicoloured flags...
And, as a rule we "forget" about the remaining 4 or 5 flags that are as
a rule granted together with the "boring" one.
Željko Heimer, 26 Jan 2002