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Greece: Historical flags from Cretan Naval Museum (XIXth century)

Last modified: 2002-10-19 by
Keywords: crete | samos | spetsai | hydra | psara | snake | spear | saint george | anchor (red) | cross (red) | cross (white) | owl | malevisi | stathas | zoudianos | sitia | pompia |
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The following information comes from exhibits in the Historical Museum in Iraklion (Heraklion), and the Cretan Naval Museum in Hania (Chania).

The following flags were displayed and described in the Naval Museum in Hania.

Bruce Tindall, 20 May 1995
All texts below, if not attributed, are also by Bruce Tindall.


Fleet from Samos

Several Cretan towns contributed ships to the Greek war of independence. Several of their flags were similar to the following, which was the flag of the fleet from Samos:
A red border enclosing a blue field. At bottom is a red crescent, pointing downward. Atop the crescent is a red cross in the middle, a red spear on the right. To the left of the cross is a yellow coiledsnake. In the upper left corner is a white boat anchor.

According to the annotation in the museum, the symbolism is:

"The combination probably represents the resurrection of the Greek nation,"says the annotation, "(The cross overpowers the crescent moon). To bringabout a successful fight however we needed power (the spear), stability and perseverance (anchor), knowledge and wisdom (snake), and God's help throughfaith and religion (bird)".

Bruce Tindall, 20 May 1995

The flag of the fleet from Samos knew several variants, still with the same things, cross, crescent, etc... The bird is in fact an owl (but a very small one) who bites the tongue of the snake. The red border symbolised the blood of the Turks, the anchor the hope for the successful outcome of the cause, the cross stood for faith in justice and the owl for prudence. Of course various interpretations exist and had existed.

Source: Hellenic flags. Insignia-Emblems. [kok97]

Pascal Vagnat, 11 January 1999


Spetsai

Spetsai is an island located near the west coast of Peloponnesus.

White border, inside of which is a red border, around a white field; red crescent, cross, and spear as before; upside-down red anchor around which a green snake is wrapped like a Caduceus; in the upper left corner, a blue-outlined gold bird.
Eleutheria i thanatos means "Freedom or death".

Bruce Tindall, 20 May 1995

The words are parallel to the length of the flag, in red and the bird was gold.

Source: Hellenic flags. Insignia-Emblems. [kok97]

Pascal Vagnat, 11 January 1999


Hydra

Hydra (Idhra) is an island near Spetsai.

Red border, blue field, red crescent/cross/spear with a flag flying fromt he spear -- it's a red flag with a yellow man's head on it; anchor and snake as above; and a quarter of a yellow sun in the upper left corner.

Bruce Tindall, 20 May 1995

The sentence I tan I epi tas on the flag of Hydra is in ancient Dorian dialect (the Greek dialect spoken by ancient Spartans). It means "With it or on it". According to a legend, when a mother in ancient Sparti farewelled her young son who was leaving for war, she gave him his shield and told him the above sentence, which means "Come back bringing it back, or come back on it [dead]". It was a terrible disgrace for an ancient Greek warrior and its relatives to leave his shield on the battlefield, while warriors killed at battle were carried back to their relatives on their shields.Today this sentence is used on several flags of Greek military units.

Stelios Kutrakis, 4 May 1998

The anchor was white, the owl in gold (bird) is biting the snake. This same owl is coming from the rays of a sun (in the canton) which disc is blue with the eye of god in white. The little flag has the head of Athena in gold on it.

Source: Hellenic flags. Insignia-Emblems. [kok97]

Pascal Vagnat, 11 January 1999


Psara

Psara is an island located near the island of Chios, near the west coast of Turkey.

Red border, white field, crescent/cross/spear, anchor, snake, and bird as before.
Eleutheria i thanatos means "Freedom or death".

The snake is green, the anchor and the words also, the owl is gold, the owl bites the tongue of the snake.

Source: Hellenic flags. Insignia-Emblems. [kok97]

Pascal Vagnat, 11 January 1999


Gianni Stathas's revolutionary fleet (1803)

Blue field with narrow white cross.


The war standard of Demetrios M. Zoudianos (1897)

A white field with a light blue couped cross [a cross that doesn't extend to the edge of the flag, like the Swiss cross] and three thin light blue horizontal stripes above, through, and under the cross. In the white stripes, on either side of the cross, is written, in blue:

IESOUS CHRI- STOS NIKA (Jesus-Christ victorious)
D Z (the initials of the commander whose flag it was).

The proportions are about 2:3.

Bruce Tindall, 20 May 1995

A related flag is white with the Swiss cross in blue charged with the figure of Saint George and the dragon: this is the flag of the Sipahis of Epirus in the Pindus mountains.

Source: Hellenic flags. Insignia-Emblems. [kok97]

Pascal Vagnat, 11 January 1999


Another flag from the independence struggle

A white field, with blue squares in the corners; a blue couped cross in the middle, its arms thinner than the Swiss cross. In the corners of the cross are the letters (in blue): iota, chi, nu, kappa (for Iesous Christos Nika "Jesus conquers").
This flag is slightly longer than it is tall.

Bruce Tindall, 20 May 1995

A possible variant of this flag is white with a Swiss cross in blue with the same four blue letters written around that cross. It was the Plapoutas flag.

Source: Hellenic flags. Insignia-Emblems. [kok97]

Pascal Vagnat, 11 January 1999


The flag of the Cretan Grenadiers

An approximately square blue field with a white cross (not couped). The arms of the cross are one-third the width of the flag. In the middle is written in blue:

ENOSIS ("Union")
T.E.K.
1897


The flag of the Sitia district

On a blue field, a white cross (not couped) whose arms are thinner than those described above. In the horizontal arm of the cross, in red letters:

ENOSIS I THANATOS ("Union [with Greece] or death")

Proportions are approximately 2:3.


The flag of the Malevisi district

On a blue field, a white cross as in Psara flag. In the middle of the cross is a picture of St. George slaying the dragon. In the lower left-hand corner is a white label that says:

TO NIKOLAO THIAKAKI ("To Nikolaios Thiakakis")
ARCHIGO MALEVYZIOU ("Warlord of Malevisi")
O SYLLOGOS KRITON ("The Cretan Union")
PEIRAIOS ("of Piraeus")

Translation by Stelios Kutrakis, 4 May 1998 and Phoevos Panagiotidis, 19 May 1998

The flag is about 2:3.


The 1881 revolutionary banner of Pompia village, Kainourion district

A multicolored icon-like picture of St. George and the dragon, with the following sentence written along the bottom:

DAPANI TON KATOIKON TOU HORIOU POMPIA ("At the expense of the people of Pompia village")

Text corrected and translated by Stelios Kutrakis, 4 May 1998 and Phoevos Panagiotidis, 19 May 1998

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