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Flags of the Nordic countries
A herald wearing a tabard

Vexillology (from the Latin vexillum, a flag or banner) is the scholarly study of flags, including the creation and development of a body of knowledge about flags of all types, their forms and functions, and of scientific theories and principles based on that knowledge. Flags were originally used to assist military coordination on the battlefield, and have evolved into a general tool for signalling and identification, particularly identification of countries.

Heraldry encompasses all of the duties of a herald, including the science and art of designing, displaying, describing and recording coats of arms and badges, as well as the formal ceremonies and laws that regulate the use and inheritance of arms. The origins of heraldry lie in the medieval need to distinguish participants in battles or jousts, whose faces were hidden by steel helmets.

Selected coat of arms

Coat of arms of Singapore

The coat of arms of Singapore is the heraldic symbol representing the Southeast Asian island nation of Singapore. It was adopted in 1959, the year Singapore became self-governing within the British Empire. At the centre of the emblem is a red shield bearing a white crescent (a new moon, representing a rising young nation) and five white stars (representing various national ideals including multiculturalism). While the use of the coat of arms is restricted to the government, the symbol enjoys wide use on the national currency and state decorations, and appears on the cover of the national passport.(more...)

Selected flag

Flag of Kosovo

The flag of the Republic of Kosovo was adopted by the Assembly of Kosovo immediately following the declaration of independence of the Republic of Kosovo from Serbia on 17 February 2008. The flag is the result of an international design competition, organized by the United Nations-backed Kosovo Unity Team, which attracted 993 entries. Under the terms of the contest, all entries had to reflect the multi-ethnic nature of Kosovo, avoiding the use of the double-headed eagle or the use of solely red and black or red, blue and white color schemes. The now-used design is a variant of one proposal designed by Muhamer Ibrahimi. It shows six white stars in an arc above a golden map of Kosovo on a blue field. The stars symbolize Kosovo's six major ethnic groups. (more...)

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The arms of Cardinal Hoyos displayed in SS. Nome di Maria al Foro Traiano

Ecclesiastical heraldry is the tradition of heraldry developed by Christian clergy. Within the Roman Catholic Church, every bishop has his own personal coat of arms. The shield usually combines the bishop's personal attributes with those of his diocese, and may change if he is appointed to a different position. Around the shield are other elements corresponding to the position in the hierarchy, including the Roman galero (or gallero), the cross, the mitre and the crosier. With modifications, similar customs are followed by clergy in the Anglican Church, the Eastern Rite Catholic Churches, and the Orthodox Churches[disambiguation needed]. The Papal coat of arms has its own heraldic customs. (more...)

Selected picture

A lithograph from 1876, showing the seals of the then-47 U.S. states and territories as well as the District of Columbia. Some of these seals have changed since this image was created.

Did you know...

  • ...that the current flag of Bhutan was introduced after it was noticed the previous square version didn't flutter like the flag of India?

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