What is a flag? History, Uses and Meaning of colors

What is a flag?


Image credit: Ben Sutherland

A flag, also known as banner is a piece of fabric which is used as a decoration or a warning sign tool. It is mostly in rectangular shape though one can choose a shape of his liking.

History and uses:

Flags were first used on battlefields to facilitate coordination in military operations.  Since then, they have evolved into devices for signaling and identification purposes mostly in places where communication is difficult for instance in maritime.  Flags are also used in advertising, for decoration and in messaging. Among the leading uses of a flag is the symbolization of a country or nation.

People have used flags for over four thousand years, with Iran being among the first nations to use flags that were made from metal or wooden poles that were carved on top. Vxilloids was among the first flags to be used.  Vexillology means guide in Latin and refers to the scientific study of flags.  Bits of clothing material or fabric were put together for decoration purposes.

Flags were used by people to provide information to others for instance in identifying themselves.  Knights who went into battle had to carry flags to allow for their easy identification since they were dressed up and covered in armor. Flags allowed soldiers to easily recognize their enemies in battle.

Presently, there is not one country in the world without a flag. A large number of groups organizations and clubs such as Girl scouts and the United Nations all have flags.

Messages spread through flags:


Image credit: Flickr rzhale

For instance, the five circles on the Olympic flag signifies the drawing together of people  from five continents to engage in a friendly competition.

The olive branches which embrace the world in the United Nations flag are the significance of peace.

Instead of using many words to explain some ideas, flags use symbols to effectively communicate.  Flags are used in celebrating particular events and are also used in events to pass around ideas. They are also flown at a half mast in honor of dead heroes.

Meaning of colors:

  • Red stands for danger, war bloodshed, courage, power, revolution
  • White is a symbol of truce, peace, surrender
  • Green stands for youth, land, hope, safety
  • Black is a symbol of death, mourning
  • Yellow stands for gold, caution
  • Orange represents sacrifice, courage
One Response to What is a flag? History, Uses and Meaning of colors
  1. kuron
    December 18, 2012 | 11:04 pm

    thank you for nice post always!
    I remembered the time when I was studying international law by looking at the flag of the United Nations.
    My life’s work has increased.
    I want to know about the national flag.
    It is no time as l have a lot life work 🙂

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