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Jura canton (Switzerland)

Last modified: 2024-05-18 by martin karner
Keywords: switzerland | jura | canton | crosier | french |
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[Flag of Jura] image by T.F. Mills/António Martins

See also:

Description of the flag

Per pale argent and gules; 1: a bishop's crosier countercoloured; 2: three bars argent.

Divided vertically into equal parts white (hoist) and red (fly). In the hoist is a red bishop's crosier with crook turned toward the staff, and in the fly three horizontal white bands. A frequent error shows black fimbriation on the palar line as well as outlining the crosier and separating the stripes.
T.F. Mills, 5 November 1997

Symbolism of the flag

The red and white colours and the bishop's crozier symbolise the bishopric of Basel which had jurisdiction over Jura from the 14th century to 1815. The seven stripes in the fly represent the districts of Jura, and since only three voted to join the new canton, the three white ones came to represent Porrentruy, Delémont, and Franches-Montagnes.
T.F. Mills, 5 November 1997

The flag of Jura canton has seven stripes, representing the seven districts which were recognized as the Jurassian people by the Bernese constitution in 1950. Those were: Porrentruy, Delémont, Franches-Montagnes, Moutier, Courtelary, La Neuveville and Laufen. [Laufen was not meant to become part of the new canton; see comment from 5 February 1998 below.]
Pascal Monney, 5 February 1998

History of the flag

From 1815 the districts of Jura were in the northern French border region of Canton of Bern. A separatist movement emerged in the 1940s, and heraldic artist Paul Boesch designed its flag in 1943. In 1951 the Bernese Council officially sanctioned the emblem as a regional flag, but this did not defuse the separatist struggle. In 1978 a Swiss national referendum approved the creation of a new canton, but only three of the seven Jura districts voted to secede into the Canton of Jura which took effect on 1 January 1979. One (Laufen) voted to join Basel-Land instead, and three others (Courtelary, La Neuveville, and Moutier) elected to remain in Bern. Separatists continue to agitate for the restoration of the unity of all seven districts in the new Canton.
The admission of Jura to the Swiss Confederation in 1979 placed the total number of cantons at the current twenty-three (not counting three half-cantons of Appenzell, Basel and Unterwalden). Half-cantons are equal to full cantons in all respects except that they each have their own autonomous cantonal government and send one delegate instead of two to the Council of States (equivalent to the U.S. Senate).
T.F. Mills, 5 November 1997

It is known as the "historic Jura", which is not correct as it was bigger in fact, enclosing about 7 centuries the city of Biel/Bienne (one of the five official bilingual cities in Switzerland – Fribourg, Morat, Sion and Sierre), and two other small entities Birseck and three exclaves in the current German Baden-Württemberg (villages of Schliengen, Istein and Binzen).
But the separatist movement which led to the creation of the Canton of Jura was "linguistically" orientated through its leader Roland Béguelin whose admiration for France had no limits. So, they didn't want to include the German speaking district of Laufen, which became part of Baselland canton on 1 January 1994 [see also Laufental separatist flag].
The struggle for the creation was hard and two people where killed. It seems for many to be very few, but in regard to Switzerland's stability and democracy it's just incredible! Only the three northern districts became the Jura canton, but they kept the old flag.
The hope for the return of the southern part are in a good move, as in 1994, a federally commended commission edited a report on the solution for the "Jurassian Question" as known here, and it was unanimously the creation of a new canton of 6 districts (Laufen could choose its own way, which was not with Jura). The Bernese government refused right away, but today there are talks to find solutions and the populations understanding is changing. The main southern Jurassian city will organise a plebiscite this year to became part of Jura. It will not be recognised by the Bernese government, unless there is a good participation.
The Bernese loyalists use in their newspaper another flag to represent Jura. It has only three stripes (two red and one white).
Pascal Monney, 5 February 1998

The city of Moutier organized a plebiscite in November 1998, but unexpectedly, the voters refused by 41 votes to become part of Jura. However, public opinion in the southern part is evolving and the Interjurassian Assembly (which is formed by 24 people from both northern and southern Jura) and which has the mandate to find a resolution to the situation has defined three solutions. The first is the status quo, the second is the creation of a new canton of Jura with this time the 6 French districts, and the last is a greater canton together with Neuchâtel and both Juras. This assembly is charged with determining the best solution, to be chosen this year.
Pascal Prince, 23 January 2000

There are discussions with the Interjurassian Assembly to create a new "half-canton" of Southern or Bernese Jura and "downsize" the actual Canton of Jura to be the second half.
Pascal Prince, 24 August 2007

Jura split from Bern in 1979 as Switzerland's newest (26th) canton, and here, too, there is half-canton controversy since the Protestant districts remained with Bern. There has been talk since 1994 of those districts seceding into another Jura half-canton (I don't know if there have been any flag proposals for that). In 2021, the town of Moutier voted to secede from Bern and join Jura, and this is expected to be enacted by 2026.
T.F. Mills, 11 January 2023

In 2012 the governments of the cantons Jura and Bern signed a declaration of intent in which they reaffirmed their common will to find an institutional solution to the Jura issue. This was followed in 2013 by a vote in the Canton of Jura and in the Bernese Jura. The majority in the Canton of Jura was in favor of the creation of a unified canton, the majority in the Bernese Jura was in favor of remaining in the Canton of Bern. Communes who wished to hold a separate vote were allowed to do this. Thus the communes of Moutier, Sorvilier and Belprahon had another vote. Of those three only Moutier decided in 2017/2021 to move to the canton of Jura. On 10 November 2017 the Inter-Jurassian Assembly (Assemblée interjurassienne) was dissolved because it had served its purpose. Today the Jura controversy is officially considered solved. No one knows what future generations will do, there could be new controversies if growing parts of the Bernese Jura will change their mind and have intentions to unite with the north.
I have never seen any flag proposals for a South Jurassian half-canton. The idea of a southern half-canton never really caught on, that's why there was possibly never a flag proposal.
Martin Karner, 11 January 2023

[Photo of carnival parade 1948 in Cornol, today Jura canton. It was one of the first public events where the Jura separatist movement presented itself. The Jura flag, here on the tank dummy, had been created in the year before by Paul Boesch (source). –
Coat of arms of Jura canton on the cupola of the national parliament building in Bern, added in 1978 as 26th member of the Swiss Confederation (source)]

Colour Flag

[Colour Flag JU] image located by Martin Karner

Simple rectangular cantonal flag, as shown in Mader (1942) (So-called colour flag [Farbenfahne in German].
The flag image was taken from BL, which has identical colours).
Martin Karner

Flaggen, Knatterfahnen and Livery Colours




[livery colours]

 images by Pascal Gross

Flaggen are vertically hoisted from a crossbar in the manner of gonfanon, in ratio of about 2:9, with a swallowtail that indents about 2 units. The chief, or hoist (square part) usually incorporates the design from the coat of arms – not from the flag. The fly part is always divided lengthwise, usually in a bicolour, triband or tricolour pattern (except Schwyz which is monocolour, and Glarus which has four stripes of unequal width). The colours chosen for the fly end are usually the main colours of the coat of arms, but the choice is not always straight forward.

Knatterfahnen are similar to Flaggen, but hoisted from the long side and have no swallow tail. They normally show the national, cantonal or communal flag in their chiefs.
Željko Heimer, 16 July 2000

Early 20th century flag design

image located by Martin Karner

At the beginning of the 20th century, flamed flags were still in use, with the white cross replaced by a (baroque) shield in the centre of the flag. These decorative flags had been used until WWII and then somewhat forgotten in preference of the current cantonal flags. [Today they are being produced again, see image]
Pascal Gross, 30 June 2002

See also:   - Other examples of "Early 20th century flag design": CH, AG, AI, AR, BE, BL, BS, FR, GE, GL, GR, LU, NE, NW, OW, SG, SH, SO, SZ, TG, TI, UR, VD, VS, ZG, ZH
                 - Modern flamed flags


image located by Martin Karner (8 May 2024)