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Dictionary of Vexillology: P (Peace Flag - Pentagram)

Last modified: 2017-10-18 by rob raeside
Keywords: vexillological terms |
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Any one of a number of flags designed to symbolize peace as, for example, those illustrated below (see also ‘rainbow flag’).

[Peace flag] [Peace flag] [Peace flag] [Peace flag]
From left: Two variants of the Rainbow Flag; Variant of the Dove of Peace Flag; Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (fotw)

1) The highest point of the gaff to which the ensign of a warship is shifted (moved), when it is said to be flying at the peak or at the peak of the gaff – see ‘shift colours’ (also 'ensign' and 'gaff').
2) A colloquial synonym (although technically incorrect) for the top of a normal flagpole (see ‘truck 1)’ and ‘finial’).

With regard to 1), that the practice of shifting the ensign became necessary in the sailing era due to the introduction of a lower spar to the mizzen gaff sail, whilst in modern warships the ensign is shifted from an ensign staff to the peak of the gaff for reasons of tradition or operational requirement (see also ‘ensign staff’).
b) Also with regard to 1), that (whilst underway) sailing ships - whether civilian or naval - still have the option of flying their ensigns from the peak of the gaff if fitted, or from two-thirds the way up the leech of the mainsail if Bermuda rigged (see also ‘leech’), however, the ensign should always be returned to a staff at the stern when the vessel is at anchor or berthed alongside.

ensign from the peak ensign from the leech
Ensign At The Peak; Ensign Flown At The Leach

1) A term, now obsolete, for a narrow ribbon attached below the head of a lance or spear (see see also ‘banderole 2)’, ‘banderole 3)’ and ‘lance pennon 1)’).
2) See ‘pennoncel’.

A largely (but not entirely) obsolete spelling of pennant - see pennant 2).

The Budgee Pendant c1700, UK (CS)

In British RN usage, bow obsolete, the original term for a commissioning or masthead pendant/pennant see masthead pennant 1) and pendant.

Red Commissioning Pendant, England then UK c1630 1864 (CS)

Please note, however, that this dictionary uses the older term first when referring to obsolete designs or patterns of this type - see ‘budgee pendant’, ‘common pendant’, ‘man o'war pendant’, ‘pendant coupe’, ‘pendant number’ and ‘pendant of distinction’.

In British RN usage now obsolete, an alternative term for what later became known as the code or answering pennant see ‘code pennant’ (also ‘pendant’).

pendant coupe
Pendant Coupee/Answering Pendant c1920 (fotw)

The term was originally used for the group of signal flags/pennants unique to an individual naval vessel, and raised to indicate that any subsequent signal hoist was sent from or was intended for that vessel and for no others, it is now – as a pennant, registration or hull number - a combination of letters and numbers that identify a particular vessel within the naval structure (see also ‘call sign hoist’, ‘make her number’, ‘private signal 3)’ and ‘signal flag’).

The original 17th/18th Century English/British naval term, now obsolete, for a commodore’s broad pennant (see also ‘broad pennant’, ‘budgee pendant’ and ‘pendant’).

pennant of distinction
Pendant of Distinction/Broad Pendant 1674 1864, England then UK

Please note – not to be confused with the distinction pendant used in Marryat’s code – see ‘distinction pennant’.

See ‘common pennant.

common pennant
Common/Tricolour Pendant, England/UK 1661 c1650 (fotw)

A medieval term, now obsolete, for a pennant or small flag.

1) A general (and imprecise) term for flags which are not strictly rectangular.
2) A flag which will usually narrow in width between the hoist and the fly, and which may be triangular, square-ended or swallow-tailed (see also ‘flag 2)’, ‘swallow-tail(ed)’ and ‘trapezoid’). See supplemental note and the notes below.

pennant pennant pennant

With regard to 2), the following modern flags can fall into this category: broad pennant, burgee, pincel, club pennant, command pennant, guidon, lance flag, masthead pennant and others, as do obsolete (or increasingly obsolete) forms such as cornet, pavon, pennon and pensel, and it is strongly suggested that the more precise terms (as defined separately herein) are to be preferred in description.
b) One common denominator, which distinguishes a pennant from a flag (as defined in ‘flag 2)’ as referenced above), is that the former is usually secondary to the latter, and differs from it in shape, size and/or in the manner of display.

See ‘masthead pennant 1)’.

pennant of command
Pennant of Command/Kommandowimpel of Germany (Wikipedia)

Please note that this term is a translation of the German kommadowimpel, and should not be confused with a command pennant as separately defined herein.

1) See ‘fanion 2)’.
2) See ‘lance pennon 1)’ and ‘badge pennon’.
3) In official Scottish usage, a 120 cm long pennant that is either triangular in form or has a rounded point, and which may be granted by Lord Lyon King of Arms to any armigerous person who applies – but see ‘guidon 3)’ (also ‘armigerous’, ‘badge pennon’ and ‘pinsel’).
4) At sea, an increasingly obsolete term for a small pennant.

An obsolete spelling of pennon – see ‘lance pennon 1)’.

1) Generically the term, now obsolete, for any small flag (usually) carried on a lance – a pencel but see ‘badge pennon’ and 2) below (also 'badge in heraldry', 'livery colours', and ‘lance pennon 1)’).
2) Specifically the term, now obsolete, for an armigerous swallow-tailed lance pennon see ‘pennoncier’.

The medieval term, now obsolete, for a knight who bore an armigerous, swallow-tailed pennon on his lance and was, therefore, below the rank of banneret – a knight bachelor see ‘pennoncel 2)’ (also ‘armigerous’, ‘badge pennon’, ‘banneret 2)’ and ‘lance pennon 1)’.

Lance pennon
Lance Pennon of a Pennoncier (or Knight Bachelor), England 1415

See ‘pinsel’.

Pensil/Pinsel of the Clan Fraser (Fraserchief)

A hollow five-sided (star-like) figure - but see ‘Magen David’ and its following note.

Flag of Giebenach, Switzerland (fotw)

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