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Sardinia Region (Italy)

Regione Autonoma Sardegna

Last modified: 2020-12-28 by rob raeside
Keywords: italy | sardinia | sardegna | moor head | corsica |
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image by Mello Luchtenberg, 28 December 2004


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Description of the Flag

The traditional flag of Sardegna (dated from the end of the 14th century) is the white one with the red cross and the four moors heads. As such it was used by ships sailing from island harbours when Sardinia was part of the Kingdom of Sardinia. When in 1802 (and until 1814) the Kingdom was reduced to the island itself, the Savoias replaced the Savoia cross in the canton of the naval ensign of the kingdom with the Sardinia ensign.
Mario Fabretto ,17 September 1997

The gonfalon and the coat of arms were adopted on the 5th July 1952. The coat of arms is argent a cross gules and a Moor’s head sable in each canton. The gonfalon is white with the coat of arms in the middle and the words Regione autonoma Sardegna in gold on a green ribbon. The traditional flag of Sardinia is a banner of the arms. A proposal of law to officialize this flag was made on the 18th July 1997.
Pascal Vagnat, 22 September 1998

The flag of Sardinia is the traditional arms of sardinia, based on the Genoese red cross. Note that nearby Corsica also has a moor's head in its arms.
Francois Velde, 12 April 1996

Sardinia adopted on the 15th April 1999 the traditional flag of the island, that is white with a red cross and a black moor's head, with a white headband, above the eyes. An official model shall be adopted soon by the president of the region.
Sources: <>  (law). (see also: <propleg349.htm> (proposal and explanations) and <propleg517a.htm> (correction proposed for the law, considering the present situation with the flags available on the island).
Pascal Vagnat , 6 July 1999

I've taken that image from the 1771 Encyclopedia Britannica. On a white field a red St. George's cross between four black Moors' heads. There are no blindfolds shown on these, however. Does anyone know when the switch to the blindfold occurred?
Randy Young ,1 December 1998

It is headbands, not blindfolds, which appear on the Moors' heads on the traditional flag of Sardinia.
Ned Smith ,1 December 1998

The cover of Klaes Sierksma's: "Vlaggen: Symbool · traditie · protocol" [sie63] shows what the book describes as approximately a quarter of a flagchart, one of many to roll of the, mostly Dutch, presses for the use of seafarers: "Tableau des Pavillons que la Plupart des Nations arborent á la Mer. Faitau dépôt des cartes et plans de la marine pour le service des vaisseaux du Roy par ordre de M. de Machault, Garde de séaux de France. Par le Sr. Bellin Inge'nieur de la marine. 1756." [beL56].
On the 3rd row from the bottom there is "Pav. de Sardaigne" - A white flag with a red cross; the width of the arms 1/10th of the hoist. In each quarter a black moor's head, from the neck up, looking slightly upward. Around each head a white scarf is tied, with the knots, of which (nearly) no ends protrude, behind the heads.
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 4 January 2001

According to Mario Daliceri and Roberto Breschi, and as is pictured in the last regional law about symbols, the moors head are currently faced to the fly and have a bit different look.
Jaume Ollé, 29 April 2001

Strange because if you take the Coat of Arms, you would say the moor head should face the hoist. Also on every picture you see on the Internet. There is a description in Italian:
"Art. 1 - Bandiera della Sardegna - La Regione adotta quale sua bandiera quella tradizionale della Sardegna: campo bianco crociato di rosso con in ciascun quarto una testa di moro bendata sulla fronte rivolta in direzione opposta all'inferitura."
Mello Luchtenberg, 29 April 2001

Art.1 - Flag of Sardinia - The Region adopts as its flag the traditional flag of Sardinia: a white field with red cross, a Moor head with a bend in each canton looking at the fly.
Pier Paolo Lugli, 30 April 2001

At J.W Norie - J.S. Hobbs Flaggen aller seefahrenden Nationen, 1971 [nor71] (original print 1848):
192 Island of Sardinia - A St. George's cross with each quarter a moor head, except the bands are placed as blind-folds.
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 12 November 2001

The official website of Regione Sardegna has an interesting page on the Sardinian flag (<>). The flag is nicknamed "the Four Moors' Banner" ("Bandiera dei Quattro Mori". The flag is white with a red cross and four Moor's heads in the quarters.
According to the Iberic tradition, the flag was created by King of Aragon Peter I after the victory of Alcoraz (1096). The battle was won with the help of St. George, therefore the red cross, who abandoned on the battle field the heads of the four defeated Moorish kings. The Sardinian tradition associated the Four Moors' banner to the mythical standard given by Pope Benedict II to the Pisans, who helped the Sardinians to fight the Sarracen invaders in 1017.
In fact, the oldest representation of the emblem dates back to 1281, and can be seen on a seal of the Royal Chancellery of Peter the Great of Aragon. The Four Moors were associated to Sardinia only in the second half of the XIVth century, when the Kingdom of Sardinia was part of the Confederation of the Crown of Aragon, as shown on the Gerle Armorial. The emblem was widely used in the Spanish Sardinia, on engravings, coins and the standards of the special corps "Tercios de Cederna", created by Don Carlos to protect the island, and which fight the Turks in Tunis (1535) and Lepante (1571).
The representation of the Moors was not fixed: the Moors might face right or left or each other two by two, might be crowned, and might be banded.
In the middle of the XVIIIth century, the representation was fixed: the Moors faced left and were eye-banded. A given reason for this is the lack of liberalism of the Piemontese government against the Sardinian population. The emblem was shown on the amrs of the Piemontese dynasty, on the official documents and coins of the Kingdom of Sardinia, and on militia flags. The emblem was later used by the "Brigata Sassari" who fought the Austrians during the Second World War [I would rather say First World War].
In 1952, by a Decree of the President of the Region dated 5 July 1952, the emblem was placed on the gonfalone of the Autonomous Region of Sardinia and became the official symbol of the Region. The flag of the Region was prescribed by Regional Law of 15 April 1999. The Four Moors face the fly and the band was placed on their forehead.
Source: B. Fois "Lo stemma dei quattro mori, breve storia dell'emblema dei Sardi". Carlo Delfino Editore, Sassari (1990).
Ivan Sache, 19 April 2002

The Four Moor's Head

The Moors' heads appeared originally in Aragonese and Catalan coats- and banners-of-arms in several places throughout their Mediterranean domains (Aragon, Corsica, Sardinia etc.). They intended to represent Moorish kings defeated and/or captured in combat (no actual persons and in no real number) and hence the Catalan and Aragonese participation in the Reconquest. In Medieval heraldry they were simply blazoned as "moors' heads" (or more frequently "blackamoors' heads" in English heraldry) and it was irrelevant where was the "tortil" (a headband , not a blindfold) placed or even whether it appeared at all.
Santiago Dotor , 9 March 2000

At the webpage <>, located by Ned Smith there is an article is entitled: SIGILLUM SECRETUM (Secret Seal) - On the image of the Blackamoor in European Heraldry (a preliminary proposal for an iconographical study) by Mario de Valdes y Cocom.
The parts relevant to the Moor's head in flags says:
1. The four Moor's head shown on the flag of Sardinia are traditionally assocaited to the four Moorish emirs which were defeated by a king of Aragon (XIth century). As a corollary, the Black figure became a symbol of evil.
2. Modern heraldits suspect that the Moor's head is, however, the very opposite of a negative symbol. The Moor's head could have referred to St. Maurice, the black patron saint of the Holy Roman Empire from the beginning of the 10th century. Maurice has been portrayed as black since the XIIth century. Here I prefer to quote the original text to avoid misinterpretation:
'The insignia of the black head, in a great many instances, was probably meant to represent this soldier saint since a majority of the arms awarded were knightly or military. With 6,666 of his African compatriots, St. Maurice had chosen martyrdom rather than deny his allegiance to his Lord and Saviour, thereby creating for the Christian world an image of the Church Militant that was as impressive numerically as it was colourwise. Here, no doubt, is a major reason why St. Maurice would become the champion of the old Roman church and an opposition symbol to the growing influence of Luther and Calvin. The fact that he was of the same race as the Ethiopian baptized by St. Philip in Acts of the Apostles was undoubtedly an important element to his significance as well. Since this figure from the New Testament was read as a personification of the Gentile world in its entirety, the complexion of St. Maurice and his Theban Legion (the number of which signified an infinite contingent) was also understood as a representation of the Church's universality - a dogmatic ideal no longer tolerated by the Reformation's nationalism. Furthermore, it cannot be coincidental that the most powerful of the German princes to remain within the Catholic fold, the archbishop Albrecht von Brandenburg, not only dedicated practically all the major institutions under his jurisdiction to St. Maurice but in what is today one of the most important paintings of the Renaissance, had himself portrayed in Sacred Conversation with him. Even more blatant was the action taken by Emanual Philibert, Duke of Savoy. In 1572 he organized the order of St. Maurice. The papal promulgation published at its institution declared quite unequivocally that the sole purpose for this knighthood was to combat of the Reformation. The order still exists although it has now combined with the Order of St. Lazarus. The white trefoiled cross of the combined order belongs to the former. The particular symbol of St. Maurice's blackness that must have most antagonized the Protestant faction, however, was the one regarding the mystery of Papal authority. Scholars have been able to show, for example, that in the theological debates of this period, even the abstract adjectives, black and white, were defiantly acknowledged by apologists of both stripes to represent
the Church and the Reformers respectively."
Ivan Sache, 18 February 2001

Translated from <>: "Now Sardinain people have their flag (Regional Law number 10 of April15th, 1999), but, due to the old Piedmontese affront, the four moors have meaningfully turned their heads and opened their eyes, no more covered by the bands which now have returned to be placed on their foreheads." Version in Sardinian at <>.
Paolo Montanelli, 25 July 2003

See also: Corsica

The Gonfalone

image from <>, located by Dov Gutterman, 13 August 2002

Previous Flag

image by Roberto Breschi from CISV

The regional flag is the one with the coat of arms . We could consider this as the flag used by government institutions, while the above is "de facto" for civil use. Indeed the regional flag is also used by private citizens, so the traditional flag must be considered as a historic flag.
Mario Fabretto, 17 September 1997

The previous flag that was white with complex arms in center. The image is according to information and images posted by Mario Dalcieri  and Roberto Breschi, CISV members).
Jaume Ollé, 29 April 2001

Note that the "previous flag" seems to be a kind of official emblem of the Region, since it is shown on the top of every page of the official website of the Region.
Ivan Sache, 19 April 2002

Variant in Use?

image by Ivan Sache , 3 January 2000

Sardinia Island Historical Flag

image by Jaume Ollé ,13 October 1998

Sardinia island flag according old plates.
Jaume Ollé ,13 October 1998