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Aargau canton (Switzerland)

Last modified: 2024-05-18 by martin karner
Keywords: switzerland | aargau | star | german |
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[Flag of Aargau] image by António Martins

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Description of the flag

Per pale, dexter: sable, a fess wavy argent, charged with two cotises wavy azure; sinister: sky blue, three mullets of five argent.

Vertically divided into equal parts: The hoist is black with a central white wavy band divided into three parts by two thin wavy blue lines. The fly is light blue with three five-pointed white stars. In correct heraldic practice, there is no distinction between shades of blue.
T.F. Mills, 2 November 1997

Symbolism of the flag

The black in the hoist is the good fertile earth of Aargau, through which runs the river Aare (A fess wavy normally represents a river). The two blue "cotises" represent the Reuss and Limmat rivers which drain into the Aare. The fly's three stars in a blue sky denote the three major regions making up the new Canton: the County (earldom) of Baden, the Free Bailies, and the Frick Valley.
T.F. Mills, 2 November 1997

History of the flag

Until the 15th century the region of Aargau was under Austrian control. In 1415 the Swiss Confederation conquered it, with most of the towns coming under Bernese control. The other seven Cantons jointly administered the remainder under bailiffs. In 1712 the catholic cantons lost their control and the region was divided between Zurich and Bern. In 1798 Aargau was created as a Canton of the Helvetic Republic, and in 1803 it became one of the six new Cantons of the restored Confederation.

The flag was designed in 1803 by Samuel Ringier-Seelmatter with no reference to previous heraldic devices of the region. Earlier versions of the "blazon" did not specify two blue cotises, and the flag was often represented with the white wavy fess divided into four parts by thin black wavy lines. The blazon also did not specify the position of the mullets in the fly, so there were several interpretations. The current design of two above and one below was established by law in 1930, and the stars were specified as five-pointed. In Swiss heraldry, stars normally have six points.
T.F. Mills, 2 November 1997

[Title page of the first accounting of the new Aargau canton, 1803, with the old version of the emblem (wavy lines undivided, old arrangement of six-pointed stars), liberty hat and cantonal colours black and blue (source). –
Military drum with Aargau arms, labeled with the name of the drummer (Heinrich Gelbert) and the year 1805 (source). Location: Museum Aargau. –
Flag of the 2nd Infantry Battalion of Aargau canton (1805). This flag was made after the new regulation from 1805. Inscription on the obverse side (all flags): "Canton Aargau".
On the reverse side is the inscription of the unit, in this case "Infanterie Bataillon Nr. 2" (source), see also book illustration from [ges43]. –
Government decree (first page) from 1930 about the new depiction of the cantonal emblem with new arrangement of the now five-pointed stars (2,1). It's not clear when the wavy bar has been divided for the
first time (source). –
Stained glass plate (1961), by Felix Hoffmann, CoA with three women with water vessels, symbolizing the main rivers Aare, Reuss and Limmat which flow into each other in Aargau. Location: government building, Frauenfeld TG (source)]

1798 Aargau flags

[Flag of Aargau] image by Christian Berghänel

[Flag of Aargau] image by Christian Berghänel

Until 22 March 1798 Aargau was a dependency of Bern canton, 22 March 1798 – 12 April 1798 an independent state, and after 12 April 1798 part of the Helvetian Republic. In March 1798 the above plain green flag was a de facto civil flag and possible state flag of Aargau. From 26 March to 12 April, the red-white-black triband was used as a civil flag and probable state flag of short-lived independent state. The proportions and colour shades of these two flags are either unknown or unspecified.
Christian Berghänel, 27 October 2002

Variations of the flag

[Flag of Aargau] image by António Martins

This variation has the sinister field in the prescribed "pale blue", leaving the cotises in azure. António Martins, 2 January 1998

[Flag of Aargau] image by António Martins

This is the black three cotises variation (Based on Todd's excellent posted text).
António Martins, 2 January 1998

Other variations refered to by Todd, especially on the arrangement of the stars and the number of their points, I couldn't gif properly due to lack of precise descriptions.
António Martins, 2 January 1998

Colour Flag

[Colour Flag AG] image by Ole Andersen

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

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: 1909 | 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, AI, AR, BE, BL, BS, FR, GE, GL, GR, JU, 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)