Last modified: 2003-07-05 by dov gutterman
Keywords: srpska | republika srpska | serb republic | bosnia and herzegovina | serbia | cross | firestalker | krajina | romanija | west herzegovina | sarajevo | ocila | yugoslavia | serbia | serbian cross | eagle | crown | serbska |
Links: FOTW homepage | search | disclaimer and copyright | write us | mirrors
by Zeljko Heimer, 6 September 2000
The official flag of the Republika Srpska is the
red-blue-white flag in horizontal stripes of equal width. Ratio
Pascal Vagnat, 20 September 1999
The official flag of RS is plain Serb tricolour The status of
RS is like this - it is one of the two entities fromtin the state
of Bosnia and Herzegovina. RS is unitary state (subdivided in
municipalities - obstine, IIRC), presidential parlamentary
democracy. Regarding flags, the flag of B&H is used
officially, together with the flag of RS, and according to my
observations (which might be wrong) often together with one of
the unofficial variations (cross, eagle...). Municipalities have
(right to) flags, of which I believe we have see only the flag of
Srpsko Sarajevo and Bileca, and which follow the Serbian
vexillologic practice (square banners of arms).
Zeljko Heimer, 21 September 1999
Another variation of the
flag of the Republic of Srpska is presented at <www.srpska.com>.
Gvido Petersons, 17 March 2000
The flag is tricolour of red over blue over white. Ratio 1:2.
When hoisted vertical the red stripe should be on observer's left
(as it is usual).
This is the only official national flag of RS. All other variants reported in vex-literature have no official status, though indeed they have been reported used in official purposes more then once. It seems that such variations are tollerated, but sometimes also hoisted side by side with the pure flag, and with several variations together.
The source for the image is a document named (translated): "Original (ethalon) of the coat of arms and the flag of the Republic of Srpska with graphical standards for use, illustrated inset" issued by the official gazette and is not dated. Original title: "Izvornik (etalon) grba i zastave Republike Srpske sa grafie'kim standardima za primenu, ilustrovani prilog", Sluzbeni glasnik Republike Srpske. I have to thank to Pascal Vagnat for this document.
Zeljko Heimer, 6 September 2000
by Zeljko Heimer
The flag with the Serbian (St. Sava) cross (by the way,
the cross has nothing to do with St. Sava, it was so named after
the saint patron of Serbia by heraldrists and vexillologists, for
convenience in similarity with British crosses) is unofficial,
but in early 1990's very often used. The official flag is the
Zeljko Heimer, 27 November 1995
The flag with "St. Sava cross" *) is often used, but
unofficially. However, according to some sources the flag with
cross is officially adopted by the Serb Orthodox Church as the
flag representing the Church.
*) note that this name is fabrication of the mailing list (or vex community), although usefull, it is rarely called so by Serbs.
Zeljko Heimer, 24 September 1999
Shouldn't we better replace this with "Serbian
cross" (or perhaps even "Byzantine cross") before
we create the myth of a "St. Sava's cross"?
Santiago Dotor, 27 September 1999
I think that the most common term that is used does not even
mention cross - the Serbs call it "ocila" (c is read as
"ts"), which is term that describe the four curious
shapes (cyrillic S's). Another word in Serbian for the same thing
is "ognjila", but I do not think that this is ever used
for those devices in this sence. "Ocilo" is called in
english a fire- iron, a cup or plate used for holding the
"live coal" in religious service (or most usually under
icons), providing the fragnan smoke. Similar device is also known
in "western" heraldry, then most usualy with opening
above, often with fire bursting from it.
The devices and cross originate from Byzantine "heraldry", where this was interpreted as four B's, So, it would be in Serb "ocila" or "krst s ocilima" (cross with fire-rons). Regarding the use on FOTW, "Serbian cross" (or "Serb cross") would do.
Zeljko Heimer, 28 September 1999
I have read something about the flag with the Serbian cross of
the Republika Srpska. According to it the four cyrillic
"S" are taken from the motto "Solamente los
Serbios Salvaran Serbia" (only the Serbian people will save
Serbia). I obtain this information from the italian magazine
"Rivista Militare" (issue 5/2001).
Santiago Tazon, 27 October 2001
"Samo Sloga Srbe Spasava (Only Unity can save the
Serbs)" is the correct interpretation of the four Cyrillic
S's. The C's more usually face outwards, that is, the C's on the
left-hand side are mirror-image, but I have seen them face inward
as well on occasion.
John C. Evosevic, 27 October 2001
I don`t think that four cyrillic "S" (looks like
latin C) are taken from the motto. More probably that different
patriotic mottos were taken from ancient CoA with four
"S". I know about two variants of motto:
Samo sloga Srbe Spasava (Only the Unity can save the Serbia), and Svety Sava Srpska Slava (St.Sava - the glory of Serbia)
(note: I can make mistakes in latinized serbian texts because I saw it in cyrillic alphabet only)
Victor Lomantsov, 27 October 2001
This is the most often quoted motto for this interpretation,
but the other one quoted by Victor (correctly latinized would be
"Sveti Sava - Srpska slava", note the capitalization)
is also sometimes find - in what might be called more
In any case, both mottoes, and some other variations are rather new, from 18th centruy (or some few hundered years earlier, occasionally, in some arorial collections, I don't have any reference by hand), while the cross with S's stems from much earlier time of Bizantine Empire, where the elements surrounding the cross were interpreted as B's (greek letter 'beta') reffering to a motto if not similar in interpretation ("Basileus Basileon Basileuon Basileusin" - "King of
kings, ruling over kings", the motto of Paleologus dinasty), then certainly similar in idea of providing a motto to initials.
Heraldically speaking, the charges are nither B's nor S's, but firestalks, fireirons - things that are hanged uner the orthodox icons in which fragnant materials are incinerated.
Zeljko Heimer, 28 October 2001
This is indeed the most frequent interpretation. However, as
Victor Lomantsov and Zeljko Heimer already said, what actually
happens is that several mottoes were created 'post facto' from
the cross, not the other way round.
The four firesteel-like elements surrounding a cross already appeared in the 14th century flag of the Byzantine Paleologues dinasty.
Santiago Dotor, 29 October 2001
See also: Serbian Orthodox Church
According to the chart: "Flags of Aspirant Peoples"
, "Srpska Bosna Hercegovina (Serbian state of
Bosnia-Herzegovina) - War flag" is a Serbian tricolor,
charged with a white eagle.
This design is listed under number 40 at the chart "Flags of Aspirant Peoples" [eba94].
Ivan Sache, 16 September 1999
by Zeljko Heimer, 6 September 2000
Coat of arms of RS - Gules, a Two-headed Eagle Argent
displayed, langued, beaked and membered Or, topped with a Crown
of the same bearing an escutcheon Gules, between a Cross Argent
four Fire Irons of the same adorsed (Serbia modern).
This CoA is virtually the same as the lesser CoA of pre-WWI kingdom of Serbia. A construction detail, the CoA apears to be in ratio 5:7, but is divided for construction purposes in 8x9 sectors
Zeljko Heimer, 6 September 2000
When it comes to Srpska, it is using a royal crown in spite of
the fact that it is not a monarchy.
Elias Granqvist, 16 September 2000
The anwser would be, I guess, that RS adopted the coat of arms
of the Kingdom of Serbia of before the first World War. Actually,
there were, I believe several consequtive versions of Serbian CoA
before 1914, some including fleurs-de-lis, and I am not sure if
it was the latest version that was (re)adopted by RS. The version
with f-d-l's was not suitable, I guess as today those have other
In any case, the crown in the CoA is anachronic, but it may be, and probably is, explained as a symbol of souvereignity, just as are crowns in some other European republics. This crown, even in being royal, is now here to represent the sovereignity weather in reference to previous rolayity or not.
Zeljko Heimer, 17 September 2000
Last night I was watching the news on TV when they carried an
article on a rally of Bosnian Serbs in Sarajevo, and as you would
expect it was a veritable vex-fest with much flag-waving going
However, I noticed that a number of the usual Serb tricolours were adorned with an emblem I have not seen discussed here. It was a small equi-dimensional cross in the centre extending slightly more than the width of the central stripe, and in each angle was a circle.
C. Veale, 30 November 1995
The other day on the news I saw some suburban Sarajevo Serbs
protesting that a unified Sarajevo will be granted to the
Muslim-Croat federation under the Dayton peace accords.
They were waving what I assumed to be a Serb flag: white stripe on top, blue in the middle, red on the bottom. There was no arms on the flag, as we have previously seen. How is this flag different from the Russian Federation?
Josh Fruhlinger, 26 November 1995
In my humble opinion, what you saw was the red blue white flag
turned upside down. From my experience, some people in
ex-Yugoslavia don't give much attention to how the flags are
The cross and circles device must be the cross and 4 C's (fire stalkers). More on this see on Republic of Serb Krajina and Serbia pages.
Zeljko Heimer, 1 December 1995
I read that at first three serb republics existed in Bosnia :
The three republics where merged after 12 September 1993 after
the Banja Luka agreement. Is this correct?
Jaume Ollé, 13 November 1996
I am not sure any more of the exact names of these
'Republics'. In fact, I think they were not proclaimed as
republics but as authonomous regions, or something like that. I
am especially suspicious of the first name. In any case, I don't
think they used any official flags as states and even if they
did, they would probably have the same definition of the state
flag as did the Republic of Serbian Krajina
in Croatia that defined it's flag to be a tricolour of red over
blue over white, and nothing else.
All the designs you mention where in use, but they where not territorially closed and where used as unofficial and official (with that I mean in official purposes like parlamentary sessions) flags in all areas where Serbs lived - Krajina, Western and Eastern Slavonia, Bosnia, Serbia, Montenegro and Macedonia.
Zeljko Heimer, 16 November 1966