Last modified: 2009-08-15 by ivan sache
Keywords: serbia | cross (yellow) | ocila | firesteel | mourning flag | coat of arms: serbia | cross (white) | eagle: double-headed (white) | president of the republic | chairman of the national assembly |
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Flag of Serbia - Images by Željko Heimer, 4 February 2008
Left, state flag (državna zastava)
Right, national [civil] flag (narodna zastava)
On this page:
The status of the union between Montenegro and Serbia was decided by a
referendum on Montenegrin Independence on May 21, 2006. 55.54% of
voters voted for independence of Montenegro, narrowly passing the 55%
threshold needed to validate the referendum under rules set by the
European Union, as reported by 99.80% of the 1,100 polling stations.
Serbia, the member-states of the European Union, and the permanent
members of the United Nations Security Council have all signalled they
will likely recognize Montenegro's independence, removing any obvious
obstacles from Montenegro's path towards becoming the world's newest
sovereign state. Predrag Popović, a leader of one of the unionist
parties demanding a full recount, said the day after the election that
his bloc would lodge a complaint with the head of the election
commission, Slovak diplomat Frantisek Lipka.
According to the electoral commission, the 55% threshold was passed by only 2,300 votes (55.5% in favour).
On June 3, 2006, the Parliament of Montenegro declared the independence of Montenegro, formally confirming the result of the referendum on independence. On June 5 Serbia was declared the successor of Yugoslavia and the State Union by the National Assembly of Serbia. Montenegro has begun the process of seeking international recognition as well as a seat at international organizations.
Matthew Chew, 7 June 2006
The state and national(civil) flags are prescribed by the Law of 19 May 2009:
III. THE DESIGN AND THE USE OF THE FLAG
The State and the National flag
The flag of the Republic of Serbia exists and is used as the State flag and the National flag, in proportions 3:2 (length to height).
The State flag
The State flag is a horizontal tricolour with equally high fields, from top to bottom: red, blue and white, with overall the lesser coat of arms set towards the hoist at 1/7 of the total flag length.
The National flag
The National flag is a horizontal tricolour with equally high fields, from top to bottom: red, blue and white.
Željko Heimer, 22 May 2009
The state flag, the most commonly used in Serbia, is horizontally divided red-blue-white with the national coat of arms shifted to the hoist (state flag). When Montenegro seceded from the federation, someone, somehow decided that the state flag should be hoisted in front of the UN building. Restaurants, gas stations, sport supporters, all automaticaly started to use the flag with the coat of arms.
Civil vessels on rivers Danube and Sava use the state flag, with some minor exceptions using the flag without the coat of arms.
A document available on the website of the Serbian Parliament gives the following prescriptions:
- the proportions of the flag shall be 1.5:1.
- the coat of arms shall be skewed to the left by 1/7 of the flag width from the center. (The text says to the left, which strictly means that two sides are not the same, when the hoist is to the viewers right, but it is not the case in practice, it should be stated "1/7 to the hoist")
- The use of Pantone scale colours is recommended.
Process colours are used in standard four colour offset printing (CMYK).
Colours shown on this page are not completely precise as original, so numeric values are enclosed.
Red: C 0, M 90, Y 70, K 10
Blue: C 100, M 55, Y 0, K 0
Yellow: C 0, M 10, Y 95, K 0
Black: K 100
The civil flag (narodna zastava, lit., "people's flag) of Serbia is horizontally divided red-blue-white, in proportions 2:3.
The law regulates very clearly when the state flag is used and when the "national flag" is used, although the wording may easily be interpreted that state flag may be used in almost all occasions instead of the plain flag.
Ivan Sarajčić & Željko Heimer, 22 May 2009
The state flag was raised in a ceremony in front of the National parliament building. With this, Serbia made a symbolic conclusion to the process of taking over its jurisdiction as a sovereign state, based on a Serbian parliament decision dated June 5, 2006.
Milan Jovanović, 27 July 2006
Variants of the state flag
State flag of Serbia in proportions 1:2 - Image by Milan Heldrih, 9 January 2005
A state flag in proportions 1:2 is hoisted at least over the presidential residence in Belgrade and also in front of hotel Hajat. In both cases they are hoisted without the national flag of Serbia and Montenegro (as one would have assumed that the ratio might have been made so that the two would be of the same size, but no). Such 1:2 flags are not prescribed by the new Serbian regulations, but the regulation is vague and may be followed more or less strictly.
Željko Heimer, 9 January 2005
Vertical state flag of Serbia - Image by Željko Heimer, 31 May 2005
As I was informed by Milan Heldrih from Zemun, Serbia, the new state
flag of Serbia is used also in a vertical variant. As far as I am
aware, the verical variant is not prescribed anywhere, but apparently
it is used nevertheless in somewhat unexpected design.
Namely, the vertical flag is the tricolour red-blue-white from observer's left to right, with the coat of arms set in the canton, so that its vertical axis matches the edge between the red and the blue fields and moved towards the top, approximately to 1/3 of the length.
Milan noticed also several variations, including the proportion variations from the usual 2:3 (matching the horizontal flag), 1:2 (matching the flag of Serbia and Montenegro) and even as long as 1:5 for vertical banner-like hoisting.
The flag seems to be mass produced (and used) in Serbia, and it probably not solely by one manufacturer, as the variants may prove. Milan repoirts that the flag is used amnong other places on the state TV headquarters (1:5 variant), the Customs Office (1:2), buildings of some municipal courts in New Belgrade and some less official places such as the Zepter Bank, Hotel Beograd Interkontinental, a bakery shop in Lazarevac etc. As table flags these are used in the government buildings, as shown in various newspapers on the photos on the working desk of Vojislav Koštunica, the Prime Minister, and Boris Tadić, the President.
Željko Heimer, 31 May 2005
The Serbian tricolour dates from 1835, and is based on the Russian colours.
Željko Heimer, 22 May 2009
Lesser (left) and greater (right) coats of arms of Serbia - Images by Željko Heimer, 27 August 2004
The greater and lesser coat of arms are prescribed by the Law of 19 May 2009:
The design of the greater coat of arms
The greater coat of arms is a red shield in which is set, between two golden fleurs-de-lis in its base, a two-headed silver eagle, armed golden and with the tongue and legs of the same, with a red shield on its chests in which is a silver cross between four firesteels of the same with their bases turned towards the vertical beam of the cross. The shield is crowned with a golden crown and draped with a crimson (porphyry) mantle embroidered gold, with a golden fringe, tied up with golden braid with tassels of the same, lined with ermine and crowned with a golden crown.
The design of the lesser coat of arms
The lesser coat of arms a red shield in which is, placed, between two golden fleurs-de-lis in its base, set a two-headed silver eagle, armed golden and with the tongue and legs of the same, with a red shield on its chests in which is a silver cross between four firesteels of the same with their bases turned towards the vertical beam of the cross. The shield is crowned with a golden crown.
The heraldic description of the lesser coat of arms of Serbia is:
"Gules, two fleurs-de-lis or below a double-headed eagle argent, beaked, membered and langued or, bearing an escutcheon: gules, a cross argent between four firesteels or addorsed. Crowned with a royal crown proper".
Željko Heimer, 22 May 2009
Origin of the firesteels/4C's charges (ocila)
ocila is the name of
the four C-shaped elements on the coat of arms. Another word in Serbian for
the same thing is ognjila, but I do not think that this is
ever used for those elements in this sense.
ocila is called in English a firesteel, a cup or plate used for holding fire in religious service (or most usually beneath icons), providing the fragrant smoke. A similar device is also known in Western European heraldry, then most usually with opening above, often with fire bursting from it.
The meaning and use of this symbol is said to date back to the 13th century and the life of St. Sava, a Serbian prince, monk, and a patron of the Serbian
Orthodox Church (established in 1219).
During that time of transition in Serbian maedieval history, the state was pressured by the Vatican to convert into Catholicism. Since the state did not have its own independent ecclesiastic establishment, St. Sava called for establishment of Serbian independent Archiepiscopat, and as well called on all Serbs to unite against the pressure from The Vatican.
St. Sava said, "Only Unity Saves the Serbs", in Serbian, Samo Sloga Srbina Spasava. Every word in that sentence begins with the letter "S"; in Cyrillic alphabet letter "S" is С, and there comes the explanation why there are four C's in the Serbian coat of arms. The Serbian coat of arms represents a reminder for a need for Serbian people to unite with the cause to preserve their heritage and nationhood.
David Adizes, 23 November 1999
Before the 12th century, an almost identical cross with four C- or rather B-shaped firesteels was used by the Byzantine Palaiologos Emperors, the letters standing for the Emperor's motto: Βασιλευς Βασιλεων Βασιλευων Βασιλευσιν, that is, "King of Kings, ruling over Kings".
Santiago Dotor, 25 November 1999
In the Orthodox Church, the cross that has been seen by Constantine the Great (270/288-337) is a very important symbol. Before the battle at Saxa
Rubra (Milvian Bridge) he is said to have seen in the sky a very bright
cross ("bright as many stars"). The message that he's been heard was: In
hoc signo vinces. There is a difference between this cross of victory
(Constantine won the battle) and the cross of crucifixion. In addition, it
is also a representation of the bright cross they believe that will appear in the sky at the end of the World (Matthew 24:30).
There are several different ways to represent brightness of that cross. One of them is with diagonal rays, the second is with the Greek letters IS HS NI KA (Jesus Christ is victor). The third way is with four firesteels. The cross with four firesteels is an old Byzantine/Orthodox symbol and should not be connected to the Paleologues (the last ruling family). It has nothing to do with four Β (Greek or Serbian Cyrillic alphabet).
Zoran Nikolić, 14 July 2004
Standard of the President of Serbia - Image by Željko Heimer, 17 August 2004
The standard of the President of the Republic is prescribed by the Law of 19 May 2009:
The Standard of the President of the Republic
The Standard of the President of the Republic is a horizontal tricolour, which, within a white border with interlaced series of blue and red triangles with their bases towards the outer edge and with a red deltoid with each corner, has fields of the same height, from top to bottom: red, blue and white, and over these fields the greater coat of arms.
Željko Heimer, 22 May 2009
Standard of the Chairman of the National Assembly of Serbia - Image by Željko Heimer, 17 August 2004
The Standard of the Chairman of the National Assembly
The Standard of the Chairman of the National Assembly is a horizontal tricolour with fields of the same height, from top to bottom: red, blue and white, and over these fields the greater coat of arms.
Željko Heimer, 22 May 2009
A plain black flag is frequently used as mourning flag in Serbia, especially in Eastern Serbia. It is displayed in front of the house of a deceased person for 40 days after the death.
Ivan Sarajčić, 20 May 2000