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Rab (The Coast-Gorski Kotar, Croatia)

Grad Rab, Arbe

Last modified: 2006-12-16 by dov gutterman
Keywords: rab | primorsko-goranska | san marino | arbe |
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image by }eljko Heimer, 29 July 2006

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Rab is a city on an island of the same name near the coast beneath Velebit mountain range some 60 km south of Rijeka . City has about 10,000 inhabitants. It is known in Italian as Arbe, a name originating from ancient Roman times when the city was established, when it was known as Felix Arba. The attribute Felix was given to cities in Roman times as especial gratitude.
The traditional coat of arms used since Middle Age contains representation of St. Christopher. He is shown as crossing a river carrying an infant - Baby Jesus, and in his right hand a staff with branched end. A crescen and mullet also appear regularly. In a coat of arms redention used nowdays, a slihuete of the city is also shown with characteristic four bellfrys. The shield is crowned and within a wreath with white and blue ribbon inscribed "Felix Arba".
A modernized version of the Coat of Arms is shown in [osg02] (prepaired presumably by Heraldic-art d.o.o. from Rijeka, responsible also for many other modern Coat of Arms in the region). It is noted in the book, though, that this version is not (yet?) used, and that the traditional version is still in use. (It is not clear weather this means that the design is adopted in city assembly but for some reason not used or what, and it is not clear if the Ministry approved it etc.)
The modern design is surely accompanied with a (monocoloured?) flag but we shall need more info about it - and if the Coat of Arms is not used that the flag is also not used. The ribbon in the Coat of Arms suggest that a
bicolour flag might have been used traditionally. In Rab are organized traditionally a chivalry games (most well known for cross- bow competitions) that suirely would include lot of flagging, but I have no detailed information.
Sources: [osg02] Oatric Goroslav: Monumenta heraldica, izbor iz heraldicke baatine primorsko-goranske ~upanije, Pomorski i povijesni muzej Hrvatskog primorja Rijeke, 2002. Croatia Tourist Guide, Leksikografski zavod Miroslav Krle~a, Zagreb, 2000.
}eljko Heimer, 29 June 2003

In all issues of the official gazette from 1993 (i.e. the first number) until August 2003 there is not a single act regarding the symbols of Rab. As we know from other sources Rab uses a traditional Coat of Arms, and a porposed modernization is "in circulation" but no decision was made, apparently.
The white and light blue ribbon in the traditional Coat of Arms certainly refer to the flag of San Marino. Namely the saint that established this republic was born in Rab - and his tradition is still well respected there.
}eljko Heimer, 19 August 2003

Until now I had no info on the flag, but today on the TV in a programe reporting something from the City of Rab there was shown the City Assembly Hall where the city flag is displayed between the county and the state flag.   The flag is diagonally divided white and very light blue with the ("traditional") coat of arms in the middle. The direction of the diagonal I am not quite sure, the shots from there were very brief, but on a Tourist Association site it is shown partially.
The flag is most certainly not approved and its use is therefore unofficial.
}eljko Heimer, 4 May 2005

On the official web site of the city of Rab at <>, one may see the Coat of Arms and the flag graphics. The Coat of Arms shown is shield only of the "traditional" Coat of Arms below. This may be hint that the city obeyed the requirement of the central authorities that the Coat of Arms should not include elements outside the shield even for the historical coats of arms.
The flag shown there, on the other hand pictures a different type of artistic rendering of the Coat of Arms, obviously a modernization of the historical pattern, but not the one we have - this one following the historical pattern more closely.
On <>, where in Article 9 and 10 the Coat of Arms and the flag are described (my translation):
"9. The Coat of Arms of the city of Rab is of shield shape, wiuth the ratio of its height to the width 1:0.9. In the first third of the height [obviously meaning the lowers third, ZH] there is an eightpointed star above a crescent moon both being infornt three wavy lines symbolizing the sea. The star and the moon are set in the middle vetically. In the right part of the shield, on the top wavy line is the silhuette of the city of Rab, where the large belfry (belfry of St. Mary) is set in the very vertical axis of the shield and that the ball at the top of the belfry is set on the 0.7 of the total height. In th left of the shield is the depiction of St. Christopher, shown from the front in early Romantic style. The background of the shield is blue, the crescent, wavy lines and the shapes of Rab are silver while the star and the St. Christopher depiction are golden.
10. The flag of the city of Rab is composed of two in the middle diagonally divided colours: Marianic blue and white with the coat of arms of the city of Rab in the middle bordered with the shield coloured golden, with the corwn of St. Christopher above from which is hanging the ribbon of glory seven times surrounding a wreath on the one side of olive and on the other of black oak and containing the inscription Felix Arba".
The description is obviously unheraldic and hard to follow. The sides of left and right are meant from viewer's point of view. The flag description is especially not helpful, it is ambigous and even gramatically problematic (in fact the original Croatian text if taken literally would have meaning that the wreath is surrounding the ribbon seven times and not the other way around). Anyway, the modernized Coat of Arms shown on the flag on the web site does not quite match the description, especially missing the oak wreath and without the proper ribbon. There are other minor discrepancies (wavy lines are there stirght, saint is not golden etc.). Therefore I think that we are still far from having definite informations.
}eljko Heimer, 19 July 2006

A few days ago there was a TV reprot from Rab on Croatian TV where the horizontal flag was cleraly visible - and where the division is such as matching the (vertical) flag shown on the Rab web site. The Coat of Arms on TV was stiched to the flag as if it was printed on a white piece of fabric, so a thing white oval outline was visible where it covers the blue field. However, I decided to ignore that im my image as being "unintentional imperfection" of the manufacturing and not the intended flag design.
}eljko Heimer, 29 July 2006

Vertical Flag

image by }eljko Heimer

The vertical version of the flag shown on the city web site is showing an other artistic version of the coat of arms.
}eljko Heimer

Coat of Arms

Modern Coat of Arms (not in use [yet?])
image by }eljko Heimer, 29 June 2003

Traditional Coat of Arms (from Croatia Tourist Guide)
image by }eljko Heimer, 29 June 2003