Friday, April 8, 2011

Flag Friday XXV

Flag Friday is a periodic discussion of the world's national flags; the project is explained and indexed here.

These discussions are about graphic design, and perhaps about nationalism and national symbolism in general. They should not be taken as critical of the countries, ideals, cultures, or people that the flags represent.


Parsons: "Yawn..." writes Parsons.  "Nice shape, but nearly as boring as Libya."  Still, it gets a "B", 70/100.

Michael5000: This is pretty much the same flag as that of Indonesia.  Well, Indonesia is in the 2:3 ratio and Monaco is officially 4:5, but in practice Monaco usually gets tweaked to 2:3, so Bob's your uncle. I checked back to make sure I'm giving the two the same grade, and it looks like Parsons did too.

Grade: B-


Parsons: "Too Busy."   A "C+", 60/100.

Michael5000: Oh, I dunno.  The golden business on the inside panel (the "Soyombo") is a little complicated, but it's all in one color, the shapes are pretty big and simple, and it's an important national symbol.  It's no busier than, say, a set of five stars.  I like the coloration, and the red-light blue-red vertical tricolor base is pretty keen.  And it's got good distinctiveness and recognizability.  I'm liking the flag of Mongolia.

Grade: A-


Parsons: Montenegro has been something of an on-again, off-again country for the past eleven centuries.  It was not on the map when Parsons made his sweep, but it's on again as of June 2006.

Michael5000: Whoa, what century is this?  The flag of the newest (I think) country going looks decidedly like one of the flags of the world as depicted on a 1880s cigar box.  Or maybe like the lid of an 1880s cigar box.  Is that really the flag?

Yup, guess it is.  I'm going to give it points for distinctiveness, obviously -- although it's not a radical departure from neighboring Albania -- and, once we get used to Montenegro being on again, recognizability.  Also, the central device uses only a modest three colors, so it is capable of being rendered in applique as opposed to screenprinting -- extremely laboriously, though.  And obviously, there's a real traditional look here.  Let's see...  we'll give it a....

Grade (for the current flag): B


Parsons: "Apart from the colours, this is a nice design," writes Parsons.  "Pentagram is a bit adolescent though."  It has "Bad Colours," it's "eye-watering," but it's "simple," and it gets a "B", 72/100.

Michael5000:   In fairness to the flag and peoples of Morocco, I don't believe that the pentagram had acquired its heavy-metal connotations at the time of their flag design, 1915.  This design, although hard on the red/green colorblind, is surprisingly distinctive -- I can't think of another open star out sides of Israel's off the bat, and that one is six-sided.

Grade: B


Parsons: Dr. Parsons is not a fan.  "Automatic weapons on a flag are especially bad," he says.  Appears to have been designed by a committee all of whom had stupid ideas for pictures of extra things to put on the flag. With "weapons" and "graven images" and being "too busy," it gets a "D-", 37/100.

Michael5000: Well, Mozambique has not had an easy road, and if I'd been part of the Portuguese colonial empire until the 1970s I might be inclined to put an automatic weapon on my flag too.  That being said, it true that it doesn't send a really upbeat message.  Parsons is moreover joined by the parliamentary opposition in Mozambique, who object not only to the bad vibes of the machine gun but also to the national flag consisting  of the symbols of the ruling party.  And yes, the stack of AK-47, hoe, book, and star really is a pretty busy business.

I like the white stripelets, though, and it doesn't look half bad on a flagpole:

Let's give it a:

Grade: B


  1. You continue to be way too generous and forgiving in your grades. Have you ever given anyone a C or D?

  2. Well, see, I like flags. Most recently, Marshall Islands got a C-...

  3. I dunno about Monaco even getting a pass. It's just Poland upside down.

  4. That Mozambique flag is actually quite nice, IF you don't look at the silly gun/book/star. The white stripes make the pan african colors more refreshing and has the feel of the South African flag.

    I had thought Montenegro had a more modern flag, but maybe I'm thinking of the red,blue,white tricolor it had related to the old Russian flag, or maybe the Bosnian blue,yellow,white

  5. brent: I thought Poland's was Monaco's (or Indonesia's) upside down ...

    Personally, I would have given both Montenegro and Mozambique B-s instead of Bs, and pretty much for the same reasons that you did - Cartophiliac has a point. (I started to think that you were giving better grades to temper that of the curmudgeonly Parsons, but you don't even have that excuse for Montenegro.)

  6. Keep in mind that I've been spending a lot of time looking at the flags of the U.S. states lately. Probably makes everything look better.