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Dictionary of Vexillology: D (Dhvaja - Divine Ratio)

Last modified: 2010-01-02 by phil nelson
Keywords: vexillological terms |
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A triangular flag usually containing seven red over white horizontal stripes whose lower edge is at right angles to the hoist, and symbolic of Hinduism (see also ‘pavon’ and ‘religious flag’).

[Hindu dhvaja]
Dhvaja of the Hindus (CS)

Please note that the word is sometimes pronounced as d’vahjah, but that other pronunciations exist.

See ‘saltire’.

See ‘bicolour 1)'.

Lanzerote, Spain
Flag of Lanzerote, Spain (fotw)

See ‘multi-stripe 4)’.

1) (v) On flags, to create a variation of another flag, either by changing one or more colours, or by adding or removing a charge. Usually done to indicate close cultural, historical, or geographic ties as in, for example, the flag of Italy was differenced from that of France by changing the blue stripe to green, or to differentiate between the various grades of senior officer in the armed services (see also ‘archivexillum’, ‘core flag’, ‘flag family’ and ‘rank flag’).
2) In heraldry, see ‘cadency, mark of’ and the note below..

[Hindu dhvaja]
National flag of Russian (fotw); Civil Ensign of Slovenia (fotw); National Flag of Bulgaria (fotw)

Please note with regard to 2) that in heraldry the terms difference and differencing may not have exactly the same meaning, that these terms do not necessarily equate directly with cadency as shown above and that we therefore suggest a dictionary or glossary on heraldry should be consulted for further details.

The actual measured size of a flag, or of a charge thereon, as opposed to its proportions (see also ‘proportions’, ‘rectangle’, ‘specification’, and ‘specification sheet’,).

example of dimensions

(adj) The heraldic term for a charge or charges, such as animals, birds (particularly eagles) or fleur-de-lis, forming part of a coat of arms, or an entire coat of arms as defined herein, which are halved along the vertical centre line of a shield, banner of arms or a flag – but see ‘conjoined’ and ‘demi’ (also ‘coat of arms 2)’, ‘entire’ and ‘impale’).

[dimidated flags]
From left: Flag of Nysa, Poland (fotw); Flag of the Cinque Ports, UK (fotw)

Please note, however, that where two sets of dimidiated arms or any elements thereof are set side by side (as illustrated above), in heraldic terms they are said to be ‘impaled by dimidiation’, and that (whilst this is often the case) one dimidiated charge, or set of dimidiated arms, need not necessarily (as per the example below) be set beside another so halved (see also ‘conjoined’).

[dimidated flags]
Flag of Geneva, Switzerland (fotw)

See ‘dimidiated’ and following note above.

In US usage the practice, almost certainly obsolete, of flying a white flag from the starboard yardarm (or spreader) of a pleasure vessel when the owner is dining, and from the port yardarm when the crew are at meals – but see ‘meal pennant’ (also ‘guest on board flag’, ‘owner absent flag’ and ‘yardarm’).

Dinner flag
Dinner Flag, US (fotw)

Those distinguishing flags that are flown by the officers of a country’s diplomatic services (consular or ambassadorial) either ashore or afloat - an ambassadorial, ambassador’s, consul’s, consular or consular officer’s flag (see also ‘distinguishing flag 1)’.

[diplomatic flags]
Ambassador’s Flags – UK. US and Thailand (fotw)

Please note that these flags are not generally flown outside embassies or consulates (although they may be), but are more usually seen ashore as car flags, within diplomatic premises and/or outside the residences of ambassadors or consuls, or they may be flown from the main masthead of a vessel carrying a diplomatic or consular officer when afloat (see also ‘car flag’, ‘main’ and ‘masthead’).

1) On parade, a method of saluting with a flag in which the staff is lowered by inclining the staff forward then returning it to the original upright position, with the degree of such lowering being governed by national regulations or custom, and ranging from a slight inclination to dropping the head of the staff all the way to the ground or vailing – see ‘vailing’ (also ‘colour 2)’, ‘colours 2)’, 'parade flag', ‘pike’, ‘staff 2)’ and ‘trailing 1’). When multiple flags are carried, which (if any) are dipped in salute generally depends on the status of the person or entity being saluted, dipping customs vary widely, however, and in some countries, the national flag is never dipped, while in others it may be dipped in salute to a head of state or other specified high dignitaries.
2) (v) At sea, a method of saluting with a flag whereby the ensign is lowered about one width from the truck of the ensign staff (or one-third the length of the halyard if flying at the gaff or yardarm) and then re-hoisted to its original position (see also ‘ensign’, ‘ensign staff’, ‘gaff’, ‘halyard’. and ‘yardarm’).
3) See ‘trailing’.

Please note that a warship will never dip its ensign to another vessel (whether warship or merchantman) but will invariably return the salute when offered by a merchant vessel - a courtesy that (whilst formerly given as a matter of course) is rarely seen today – and that that warships only return salutes from the ships of countries recognized by their own government. Saluting between warships not wearing the flag of a flag officer or a broad pennant is carried out by bosun’s call or bugle, and when flag officers meet at sea they salute each other with the appropriate number of guns, although usually only by prior arrangement (see also 'flag of command', ‘flag officer’, ‘gun salute’ and ‘private ship’).

Please note also, that at sea a manoeuvring signal will be dipped by the flagship when it has been acknowledged, and signifies that the signal is to be executed, however, an answering pennant flown at the dip in response to a hoist from the flagship, indicates that the signal is not understood - an answering pennant flown close-up confirms that the signal has been received and understood (see also ‘close-up’, ‘hoist 2)’ and ‘signal flag’).

A circular area of single colour used as a charge (see also ‘bezant’, ‘charge’, ‘plates’ and ‘roundel 2)’).

Please note that a disc is called a roundel or a bezant in heraldry or may be termed plates if white/silver.

(v) To add any unauthorised charge, device or wording to the field of a flag, particularly when it is of an insulting or pejorative nature (see also ‘charge’, ‘desecrate’ and ‘device’ and compare with ‘deface’).
1) In heraldry, see ‘appendix V’.
2) (adj) On flags the term may be used in place of flown, bourn or carried etc – for example “a flag/pennant/banner was displayed above the…”, or “the flagpole displayed a finial in the form of a…”, or “the flag/pennant/banner displayed a charge…”.

See ‘hoistline’.

See ‘privateer jack’.

1) The flag of a civil position within a governmental structure, as opposed to that signifying military rank, as in for example, the distinguishing flag of a Government minister (see also ‘diplomatic flags’).
2) An alternative term for a rank flag (see also ‘rank flag’).
3) In US Air Force and Marine Corps usage, a flag denoting an officer's rank – see ‘individual flag’ (also ‘flag of command’, ‘personal flag 3)’ and ‘rank flag 1)’).
4) In US military usage, the flag of a command or organization not authorized to bear colours.

[distinguishing flags]
From left: Minister of Defence, Argentina; Secretary for Defence US; Minister of Defence Sweden (fotw)

Please note, that although these terms are sometimes considered interchangeable, the Editors have drawn a general distinction between the command flags used by senior naval officers, the rank flags employed by officers from the other armed services, the distinguishing flags of civilians and with personal flags.

The newly introduced term for a jack (of a design which differs from its accompanying ensign) that is flown whilst a vessel is underway in order to distinguish that vessel’s special service or purpose, with two examples in current use being the flag of a UK consular officer if flown as a jack, and when the standard of a head of state (a royal or presidential standard) is flown from the jack staff of a naval launch when that head of state aboard (see also ‘jack’ and ‘jack staff’).
Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), this is the mark that identifies a vessel's status as the warship or government owned ship of a sovereign state, and thus operated for non-commercial purposes.

Please note that this distinguishing mark is invariably the ship's ensign, to lesser extent the masthead pennant and in some cases also the jack (see also 'ensign' 'jack' ‘masthead pennant 1)’) and ‘suit of colours’).

See ‘rank plate’.

In British RN and some other naval usage now obsolete, the term for a short triangular pennant or large rectangular flag of different coloured panels, often stiffened with a frame and sometimes flown (in addition to a masthead pennant) by sailing warships to indicate (depending upon the masthead employed) the division of a fleet to which they belonged or to identify individual ships within that division (see also ‘frame 2)’, ‘masthead’ and ‘masthead pennant 1)’).

1) Flag A (Alpha or Alfa) in the International Code of Signals, signifying that the vessel flying the flag has a diver down and that vessels approaching should keep well clear and proceed at slow speed (see also ‘International Code of Signal Flags’ and ‘signal flag’).
2) In US and some other usage, a red flag with a white descending diagonal stripe indicating that divers are below the surface in the immediate vicinity of the flag.

[diver below flags]
Signal Flag Alpha (CS)

[diver below flags]
Unofficial Warning Flag (CS)

Please note however, that while often referred to as unofficial, use of 2) is required by law in most US states, and by law or regulation in some other countries.

See ‘golden mean’.

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