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Croatia - Proposals and Unofficial Variations - Part 1

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From Vecernji list, 28-JAN-2000 [my notes in brackets]

Is the Croatian Coat of Arms really unconstitutional and should it and the flag be changed - with the designer Brois Ljubicic and historian prof. dr. Niksa Stancic

The flag - a visual code

The flag project of the designer Boris Ljubicic was made in July 1990. - The idea is based on synthesis of the historical elements: the tricolour and the Croatian coat of arms [CoA]. The tricolour is very frequent flag, and therefore the CoA is the basic differential element. The economic, political, cultural and sports contest of the new state requires recognisable, effective and differential visual characteristics. The interchangeable squares already represent different contents HRT [Croatian national TV house], tourism, Zagreb International Fair and there is need to link it with the basic, ceremonial, offical and unique identity of the state, and that is her flag. Japan, Switzerland and US treat their flag as a visual code or a symbol of grat corporation - explains Ljubicic.

We are not a monarchy, so we do not need coats of arms

If the Croatian CoA is unconstitutional is the question recently incited by dr. Slaven Letica. After we wrote about that we were contacted by a historian prof. dr. Niksa Stancic, member of expert committee that in 1990 worked in the first phase of the work on new CoA, and afterwards by well-known designer Boris Ljubicic, who for some time thinks about integral Croatian visual identity, so he has his own proposal for a new Croatian flag! - Croatia have to create an image of herself, and our current flag with the CoA associates to 19th century and monarchies period. The state is presented in the worlds by her visual identity that should be a Croatian product highlights Ljubicic. Most of the modern states, even those that are still fomally monarchies, like Great Britain, Denmark and Sweden, on their flags have no CoAs to symbolise the hereditary ruling dynasties. It happened to us to entangle in flotsam and jetsam of, so called, art history, in stead to make the modern visual identity, by redesigning the traditional elements, that could be incorporated into symbols of our companies. Even if, for example, Privredna banka [large bank of Zagreb, previously state owned], is sold to Italians, in its it is not clear that it is a company that work and act in Zagreb. Ina [state owned oil company], Agrokor [large private food industry] and others should have clear symbol that those are Croatian companies, as it is visible in the symbol of the Italian Benetton, containing green colour from Italian flag and bringing it to Croatia - said Ljubicic.
We can discuss the CoA, but not its constitutionality Prof. dr. Niksa Stancic, historian in History Department, Faculty of Philosophy in Zagreb, lead the expert committee that participated in the first stage of the creation of the new Croatian CoA in 1990. - Just after the elections in 1990, dr. Domljan [president of parliament at the time] asked me to establish a workgroup. Our task was not to propose the shape and contents of the CoA, but to provide the expert background, to warn the politicians who shall determine the CoA on the heraldry rules. We have given the models how the CoA could be done. We warned also that new heraldry does not respect and does not have to respect the rules of the traditional heralrdy. According to heraldry, the CoA have obligatory and non-obligatory elements. So, a rank symbol if obligatory, a symbl of baron or count, or, in case of a state, a symbol for monarchy or republic. The traditional symbol of a republic is a three-towered city, and out CoA is somewhat historized, something that could symbolize a historical kindgom. The fact that there is something beside the basis of the CoA is not unconstitutional, nor it is against the heraldry rules. I submitted our proposals to dr. Domljan, so he engaged the painter Miroslav Sutej, who made many designs. We met several times with president Tudjman. On one of those meetings dr. Tudjman accepted exactly this proposal for design of the Croatian CoA, that was best among the proposed. It was Sutej's failure to let the CoA of Dubrovnik in the corwn to differ from the original. maybe to him, as artist it was not of such importance. It is objected that the goat is Italian symbol. The CoA of Istria is the CoA of Austrian duchy of Istria, much younger then the rest of CoAs, but it is generally accepted in Istria. The CoA of Croatia was also used by all possibly ideologies, from feudalists to reformers, Stjepan Radic [Croatian politician between two WWs], Ustashas, partisans, but that should not mean that it is now unacceptable if most of the people accept it. The oldest preserved red-white CoA is the one on Cetina seal of 1st January 1527, when the Croatian Sabor [parliament] adopted Habsburg dynasty [for Croatian kings].The oldest known Croatian CoA, the first one in the crown, is the CoA of late 12th or early 13th century, preserved on a coin of the Croatian Herzeg [Duke] Andrew, latter to become
Croatian-Hungarian king Andrew II. It is inscribed in the coin Dux Croatiae. I do not know how much it would be wise today to think about the change of the coat of arms with which we have gone through independence struggle and Homeland War. I had different opinions about its contents and how it was designed, but it constitutionality can not be questiopned - said prof. Stancic.

by Zeljko Heimer , 30 January 2000

[image: flag 36 square fields 1st row: RWRWRW, 2nd row: WRWBWR, 3rd row: BWBWBW] - The Croatian flag according to the idea of Boris Ljubicic

by Zeljko Heimer , 30 January 2000

The late president Tudjam have choosen the current Croatian CoA and the flag among some 30 odd proposals
Zeljko Heimer , 30 January 2000

Other articles suggested that since Croatia is not a monarchy, it should not have the crown on its coat of arms. Maybe the idea of no CoA is a corruption of the idea to remove the crown?
Jonathan Dixon , 1 Febuary 2000

Proposals for the new flag in 1990

In the late 80's with the growth of national and anti-communist movement, the thoughts of a new flag were heard. There was the obvious problem of collision with the Dutch flag, if there would be just the star removed.

However, the tradition of having the coat of arms in the middle was very strong. Emigrant societies in the world used the one with chequered shield, and many taught it is right to use the same design.

There were some other propositions. Maybe the most radical was the chequered red and white flag, very much alike the one used for car racing. Others were simplifications of the tricolour with coat designs. I include one or two that I think were amongst the best.

[Proposal for Croatian Flag]
by Zeljko Heimer

[Proposal for Croatian Flag]
by Zeljko Heimer

[Proposal for Croatian Flag]
by Zeljko Heimer

All of the three are from 1990, and are some of the designs that have been published in newspapers and debated. Unfortunately, I don't have right now the names of designers. I prefer the first one, simple and easy to recognize among other flags, and at the distance.

Finally, the design with the full coat of arms was preferred and made official, with a coat bigger than on many of the other propositions. The author of the design is, I think, Miroslav Sutej, who made the design of the coat itself, the president's flag, and some other insignia of the state.
Zeljko Heimer, 14 October 1995

Unofficial Variations of the Croatian Flag

Yesterday we were celebrating our Statehood Day here in Croatia, as one may expect a flag-rich day, and an opportunity for me to check what kind of flags are used. A trip to the centre of Zagreb proved to be useful, and a walking tour in the old town yet more. Here are some of my remarks.

As you may remember, not so long ago I wrote about the flags that were hoisted on the trams during the public holidays, following a larger discussion on the topic. Then I said that such flags were hoisted in the old Yugoslavia day regularly on every holiday, but that since the independence I have not noticed the new Croatian flag hoisted this way.

Since then I had the chance to observe a small detail - the wires on which such flags were hoisted (Yugoslav + Communist party flags) where removed from the left driver's windows, at least in the several trams I was driving in (as I supposed in the previous message).

However, yesterday was the first time (as if they wanted to prove against me) that I saw the small Croatian flags hoisted in that place. They are rectangular now (not triangular, as they were before), and I guess attached to the window in some other way than on the wire. I am glad that someone in the Zagreb traffic company remembered this nice habit.

As one could expect, there were a lot of the regular Croatian flags, much more than the others, that I call under one name "unofficial". I list here examples that I noted - they differ only in the details of the coat of arms. As the Croatian flag is among those that are rather complicated in this matter, it is no wonder that it is so. It is my belief that all these flags were made in the early days of independence i.e. 1990/1991, when the pattern was not officially established, or there were yet not enough official flags on the market, so people acquired what there was available, or what they did themselves. Such flags would be yet in quite good condition, unless they were hoisted all the time (and they were obviously not). Such unofficial flags are seen only on private buildings, and never on the administrative/government buildings - at least here in Zagreb today.

All the flags are, naturally, red-white-blue tricolours with a 25 pieces red-white chequy shield. All of them are in 1:2 ratios, or very close to it. Here is the list of differences:

[Croatia - first unofficial variation]
by Zeljko Heimer

1. the shield does not touch the edges of the white stripe, the shield has a pointy end like this }
2. same as 1, with an inverted pattern of pieces (i.e. white square first)

[Croatia - third unofficial variation]
by Zeljko Heimer

3. same as 1, but the shield ends in an elliptical curve )
4. same as 3, with an inverted pattern of pieces

[Croatia - fifth unofficial variation]
by Zeljko Heimer

5. same as 1, but the shield ends in a semicircular curve
6. same as 5, with an inverted pattern of pieces

[Croatia - seventh unofficial variation]
by Zeljko Heimer

7. same as 5, the shield has a golden border, above it there is a red-white-blue ribbon in arc

1-6 are variations of the same pattern, probably from different manufacturers, and as far as I am aware, there are no differences in the meaning of those. For the discussion on the order of red-white cheques, see the relevant discussion in these pages.

Number 7 is quite distinct, and I had not seen it until now. I saw the flag from quite close, and it seems that it is a silk-screen printed - which would mean that it was made in large numbers. It is my assumption that this could be a flag manufactured abroad, say in the United States, for the Croatian groups there, and acquired by the owner. If so, then it might be older than 1990.
Zeljko Heimer, 31 May 1998

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