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Luzern canton (Switzerland)

Last modified: 2024-06-29 by martin karner
Keywords: switzerland | luzern | german |
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[Flag of Luzern] image by T.F. Mills

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Description of the flag

Per fess argent and azure.
Horizontally divided into equal parts white over blue.
T.F. Mills, 17 October 1997

Symbolism of the flag

The symbolism of the blue and white is lost to history, but there are several possible explanations. In modern popular culture, the blue represents lakes and the white represents snow-capped mountains – which is a handy mnemonic for displaying the flag horizontally. A second explanation is that these are the colours of the Virgin Mary. A third explanation is that the Lucerne flag is taken from the arms of the important von Littau family (per fess dancetty argent and azure, i.e. identical but divided in zigzag fashion).
T.F. Mills, 17 October 1997

History of the flag

Luzern was a sovereign state within the Holy Roman Empire since 1241. It joined the Swiss Confederation in 1332. The first documented evidence of the blue-white flag is from 1386, and a seal of 1354 shows the blue-white arms divided vertically. An explanation for the horizontal/vertical difference is that the flag evolved from a "gonfalon", a type of banner hung from a vertical crossbar, and that Luzern originally carried such a banner in war. If the staff is turned 90 degrees and carried like a normal flag, the white-blue division appears to be horizontal. But surviving evidence casts doubt on this theory. Flags carried at the battles of Arbedo (1422) and Murten (1476) were horizontal, as were Luzern banners presented by successive popes in 1480 and 1512.
T.F. Mills, 17 October 1997

[Oldest known depiction of the emblem on the seal of Luzern from c. 1386. Location: State Archive, Luzern (source). –
Banner of Luzern, with Zwickelbild granted from Pope Pius Sixtus IV in 1480 (source: [b7b42]). –
Julius Banner (1512), dedicated from pope Julius II for Luzern's support in the Pavia campaign. The Zwickelbild shows Jesus with his disciples on Mount Olivet (source). –
Stained glass plate (ca. 1519) in the church of Ursenbach BE, with the centered trefoil of the Luzern shields and the imperial double eagle as a sign of imperial immediacy, surrounded by the district emblems of Willisau (top left), Rothenburg, Entlebuch, Ruswil, Michelsamt (Münster), Habsburg (Meggen), Sursee, Sempach, Weggis, Kriens, Büron, Malters, Merenschwand and Ebikon (source). –
Stained glass plate (1676), asc. to Hans Jakob Geilinger d.Ä., with pyramid of arms, flanked by the patron saints Leodegar and Mauritius. The latter holding banner and shield with white "St. Mauritius cross" on red (see also Switzerland – History of the flag), the former holding a crozier and the drill with which he was blinded. On top the scenes of the blinding of Leodegar and decapitation of Mauritius. Location: Historical Museum, Bern (source). –
Battalion flag of Luzern, carried during the Sonderbund War, 1847. The Confederate Cross was used here by a member of the secessionist Sonderbund cantons (b/w photo, source: [b7b42]).]

Colour Flag

[Colour Flag LU] image by Ole Andersen

Rectangular cantonal flag, as shown in Kannik (1956) [So-called colour flag (Farbenfahne in German)].
Ole Andersen, 4 August 2002

Coat of Arms

[Flag of Lucerne] image by António Martins-Tuvalkin, 3 January 2006

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

       images located by Martin Karner
(Postmark: 1911 | source)                                                    (source)

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 right 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, JU, 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)

Former Logo

image located by Martin Karner (8 May 2024)