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Graubünden / Grischun canton (Switzerland)

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[Flag of Graubünden / Grischun]
by António Martins

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Description of the flag

Per fess the chief per pale; 1: per pale sable and argent; 2: quarterly azure and or, debruised by a cross quartered and countercoloured; in base: argent, an ibex saillant sable.

Horizontally divided into equal parts, the upper part of which is also divided into equal parts vertically. The upper part closest to the hoist is divided vertically into black and white halves. The upper part in the fly is quartered blue and yellow, divided by a cross which is itself quartered with the blue and yellow reversed. The base is white with a black ibex standing upright.

Symbolism of the flag

The flag consists of three separate simplified arms representing the three constituent members of a confederation formed in 1457: the first quarter is the "Grey League", its black and white being a pun on the name; the second quarter is the cross of the "League of Ten Jurisdictions"; and the ibex, denoting freedom, independence, swiftness and bravery, is the emblem of the "League of God's House".

History of the flag

The "League of God's House" (Gotteshausbund) was formed at Chur in 1367 to counter the machinations of Bishop Peter von Boehmen, and evolved into a revolutionary organisation against Austria. The "Grey League" (Oberer Bund) was formed in 1424 at Truns as a union against the "Black League" of the local nobility. The "League of the Ten Jurisdictions" (Zehngerichte-Bund) was formed in 1436 at Davos to prevent a splintering of local courts of justice.

The three leagues united in 1457 into a republic called the "Mutual Three Leagues". This republic never had its own flag or arms, and its three members went into battle with their own flags. The republic became an ally of the Swiss Confederation in 1498. It became a full member of the Helvetic Republic in 1798 at the invitation of the French, and a member of the restored Swiss Confederation in 1803. The Grey League lent its name to the new Canton (Graubunden in German, Grisons in French), but the original arms and flag omitted its black and white device, and consisted only of the "Ten Jurisdictions" in the upper half and "God's House" in the lower half.

The present design dates from 1932, and the three parts are actually a simplification of the members' original arms. The black and white arms of the "Grey League" also featured St. George and the Dragon, and the blue and yellow of the "Ten Jurisdictions" featured a "savage" crowned with oak leaves and holding in his right hand a blue and yellow flag, and in his left an uprooted pine tree.

T.F. Mills, 02 November 1997

Flaggen, Knatterfahnen and Livery Colours




[livery colours]

by Pascal Gross

Flaggen are vertically hoisted from a crossbar in the manner of gonfanon, in ratio of about 2:9, with a swallowtail that indents about 2 units. The chief, or hoist (square part) usually incorporates the design from the coat of arms - not from the flag. The fly part is always divided lengthwise, usually in a bicolour, triband or tricolour pattern (except Schwyz which is monocolour, and Glarus which has four stripes of unequal width). The colours chosen for the fly end are usually the main colours of the coat of arms, but the choice is not always straight forward.

Knatterfahnen are similar to Flaggen, but hoisted from the long side and have no swallow tail. They normally show the national, cantonal or communal flag in their chiefs.

Zeljko Heimer, 16 July 2000

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