Home Page

Stefan's Florilegium


This document is also available in: text or RTF formats.

Stndrds-Banrs-art - 9/25/13


"Standards, Banners and other Vexillological Subjects" by mistress katherine kerr.


NOTE: See also the files: banners-msg, flags-art, silk-banners-msg, silk-msg, Bayeux-Tapsty-art, applique-msg, linen-msg, arms-humor-msg.





This article was submitted to me by the author for inclusion in this set of files, called Stefan's Florilegium.


These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org


Copyright to the contents of this file remains with the author or translator.


While the author will likely give permission for this work to be reprinted in SCA type publications, please check with the author first or check for any permissions granted at the end of this file.


Thank you,

Mark S. Harris...AKA:..Stefan li Rous

stefan at florilegium.org



NOTE: See more of this author's work on her website at: http://webcentre.co.nz/kk


Standards, Banners and other Vexillological Subjects

by mistress katherine kerr




Standards are the long tapering flags (often mistakenly called banners) seen floating on a breeze. In Southron Gaard, they are typically 112 cm wide x 224 cm long, based on the proportions of the 5-mompe silk we use. In period, rank-based rules regulated the size and type of heraldic display you could use -- in Scotland, the King had a 7.5-metre standard; Barons and Knights 3.5 m. Southron Gaard has a jocular version based on the Baron's Girth (http://sg.sca.org.nz/traditions.htm#girth). The Kingdom of Lochac has no sumptuary laws, which means that you can make your standards or banners any size you like.  


Next to where the staff or pole would be (termed the hoist) comes a section identifying your affiliation, such as the Southron Gaard tower, the populace badge of Lochac or a household badge. Do note that you don't "stack" these but display just one. Standards do not represent your formal arms, so you can make one without having your arms registered. Typically they use the tinctures and charges you may have on your arms or badge, following the usual rules of heraldry. Often they have the field divided horizontally with the livery tinctures, or vertically on a slant with motto bands. The end can be rounded, pointed, swallow-tailed or split. The edges are often decorated with a fringing or alternating squares of the livery tinctures.


Think about what charges you want, make them large so they are clearly visible and well-proportioned. Charges can be repeated across the field, in large groups (typically three between motto bands) or as small repeating units. Mottos can be held within bands – slanting left or right – or in the fly (at the end).


Banners and Gonfalons


Banners are typically square or rectangular and bear the formal arms of the individual or group as it would appear on a shield of that shape. Note that this means you do not make a shield-shaped banner or put your arms inside a shield shape. Nor do you include any mantling, helms, supporters, crests etc, just the arms themselves. Banners are usually held rigidly attached to a vertical staff or horizontal bar; the former tends to be what we commonly think of as a flag these days. The gonfalon or gonfannon is an Italian version of a banner, often pointed, swallow-tailed, or with several streamer tails, and usually suspended from a crossbar. These versions are popular for indoor or wall display, particularly where only one side of the banner is seen.


Pennons, Guidons and Pinsils


Pennons are small standards, typically with a pointed or swallow-tailed/split end. They usually bear the badge of the arms or individual, and were traditionally affixed to lances (there are examples in the Bayeaux Tapestry). Guidons are larger variants of the pennon; the pinsil is a much smaller version, triangular in shape. These can be useful in decorating an encampment, adding colour to a lists field, or identifying an area as belonging to a group, household, or individual.




Painted linen or silk for banners and other heraldic displays were commonly used in period, with instructions for such included in the 15th-century Italian artist Cennino Cennini's Il Libro dell'Arte. He worked with gesso, glair, tempera and gold leaf, drawing outlines in charcoal, then painting them in. Other ways to produce heraldic displays include:


Painting on silk with fabric paint or dyes (see katherine kerr's site for full instructions for silk standards)


Painting on linen, canvas or cotton with fabric paint, acrylic or oil paints


Embroidering on silk or linen


Applique on linen, canvas or other heavier materials such as cotton drill




* Cennino D' Andrea Cennini; Il Libro dell' Arte : http://www.noteaccess.com/Texts/Cennini/


* Dictionary of Vexillology: http://www.crwflags.com/FOTW/FLAGS/vxt-dtoc.html


* Fox-Davies; A Complete Guide to Heraldry; Bloomsbury Books, 1985


* Gordon, Barbara; "Whips and Angels Painting on Cloth in the Mediaeval Period";  



* katherine kerr, her website; Banners and Standards page: http://webcentre.co.nz/kk/banners.htm


* Modar's Heraldic Display section: http://www.modaruniversity.org/Heraldry2.htm#Display


* Painting a Silk Banner for an achievement, Lady Dairine mor o' uHigin and Mistress Morgana



* Heraldic Display, Lady Sabine: http://www.sca.org.au/st_florians/university/library/articles-howtos/heraldry/HeraldicStandards.htm


Copyright 2010 by Vicki Hyde. vicki at webcentre.co.nz. Permission is granted for republication in SCA-related publications, provided the author is credited.  Addresses change, but a reasonable attempt should be made to ensure that the author is notified of the publication and if possible receives a copy.


If this article is reprinted in a publication, I would appreciate a notice in the publication that you found this article in the Florilegium. I would also appreciate an email to myself, so that I can track which articles are being reprinted. Thanks. -Stefan.


<the end>

Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
All other copyrights are property of the original article and message authors.

Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org