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Flag terminology

Flag illustrations generally depict flags flying from the observer's point of view from left to right, the view known as the obverse. Animals and beasts should always appear with the heads facing the flag-staff side.

Some countries use a single flag design as a national flag for all purposes. Other countries may use two or more flags for different purposes but all serving as the national flags. Vexillologists categorise such flags as:

  • Civil Ensign - Flown on private vessels (fishing craft, cruise ships, yachts, etc).
  • State Ensign - Flown on unarmed government vessels.
  • War Ensign - Flown on warships.
  • Civil Flag - Flown by citizens on land.
  • State Flag - Flown on public buildings.
  • War Flag - Flown on military buildings.

Description of standard flag areas:

  • Canton - upper left quarter of the flag, such as the field of stars in the Flag of the United States.
  • Fly - right half of the flag.
  • Hoist - left half of the flag.
  • Length - span of flag from right edge to left edge.
  • Width - span of flag from top edge to bottom edge.

Basic Patterns in Flags (the following is an animated gif, and will change to 7 variations in flag design)

Techniques in Flag display

  • Hoist - the act or function of raising a flag, as on a rope.
  • Half Staff - a style of flag display in which the flag is hoisted to half of the potential height of the availble flag pole. This usually denotes distress or a show of grief, such as mourning a death.
  • Half Mast - same as Half Staff. the use of 'mast' suggests naval use. But typically the two terms are interchangeable.



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