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Last modified: 2003-01-18 by dov gutterman
Keywords: jamaica | america | agriculture | sunshine | hope | saltire | caribbeans |
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[Flag of Jamaica]
by Zeljko Heimer, 25 Febuary 2002
Flag adopted 6 August 1962, Coat of Arms adopted 6 August 1962.

see also:

The Flag

The symbolism of the colours is: yellow, sunshine and natural resources; black, the burdens borne by the people; green, agriculture and hope for the future. "Burdens and hardships there may be, but we have hope and the sun still shines".
James Dignan, 22 November 1995

From <>:
"The Jamaica National Flag came into use on August 6,1962, jamaica’s Independence Day. It was designed by a bipartisan committee of the Jamaica House of representatives.The Flag has a diagonal cross or saltire with four triangles in juxtaposition. The diagonal cross is in gold and one-sixth of the length of the fly of the flag; the top and bottom triangles are in green; and the hoist and fly triangles are in black. The exact shade of green used in the flag is Emerald T8 17, British Admiralty Bunting Pattern. The Flag follows the "Admiralty Pattern" and the proportion is 2 x 1."Hardships there are but the land is green and the sun shineth" is the symbolism of the Flag. Black stands for hardships overcome and to be faced; Gold, for natural wealth and beauty of sunlight; and Green stands for hope and agricultural resources".
See also more information plus explanation of usage (clearly defining the civil and state ensign use of the national flag) at <> and 20 Jamaican Dollar banknote showing the flag of Jamaica at <>.
Both sites claim that the width of the yellow stripes is "1/6th of the length of the fly" of the flag. Now, I read this to be 1/6th of the flag length (horizontal, longer, dimension), however this produces very, very "fat" stripes. Or maybe the meaning of "the length of the fly" is length of the free side, which would be equal what we call hoist. In that case, 1/6 of hoist is maybe somewhat thinner then I am used to envision the JM flag, but much closer to what's usually seen.
Zeljko Heimer, 23 Febuary 2002

According to [pay00] - National Flag. (CSW/C-- 1:2) - The site I mentioned few days ago defines the width of the saltire as 1/6 of hoist (if I have interpreted it rightly, see previous messages). Green shade is defined (though with some system that does not halp us much), but the saltire is just called "gold". Usually this is shown as simple yellow (so [pay00], [smi82], [vdv00] etc.) but I guess that it should be darker, as gold sould be. At least, the flag used on Salt Lake ceremonies these days was cleafry having a darker "orangeous" yellow shade.
Zeljko Heimer, 25 Febuary 2002

Coat of Arms

[Coat of Arms of Jamaica]
by Zeljko Heimer, 25 Febuary 2002

The CoA, based on the grayscale vectorial drawing from Corel Clipart (with only very minor chnages I made and colourization based on several sources). It seems that the CoA does not apear on any current JM flag (but it did prior to independence), so it is no wander that it is not shown in Album [pay00].
Zeljko Heimer, 25 Febuary 2002

Am I wrong in saying that the scroll and the helmet should be both the same colour? They are both blazoned "Or", aren't they?
Also, according to Ralf Hartemink's International Civic Heraldry website <>, the current arms have the motto in Latin (on, apparently, a scroll Argent).
Santiago Dotor, 26 Febuary 2002

I shall wait for experts to judge on this, especially the colourization. I think that Ralf is wrong - the Latin motto is older then the current English one (possibly this was the slight change of 1957?) though I have no firm arguments of that, and have to wait for experts to resolve it.
David describes the 1906 CoA supporters to be wearing blue clothing, this being allegedly changed to green-golden of current design. However, it seems to me that both Nat'l Geographics [gmc17] and Flaggenbuch [neu92] already show the clothing coloured as in current CoA. Possibly the 1906 grant really contains blue clothing, but the 1957 change migh have only proscribed what was customarly "always" in real use.
Zeljko Heimer, 26 Febuary 2002

DK Flags of the World [udk98] says: "The coat of arms, based on those granted to Jamaica on 3 February 1663, is among the oldest granted to a British colony." No image is shown. Smith [smi76c] seems to be the source of Corel Clipart, and says: "The arms are those originally granted in 1661; the pattern was modified in 1957 by having the motto and artistic rendition altered."
The coat of arms shown on (defunct) has minor differences with Smith's image. The dark grey feathers surrounding the helmet are yellow in Smith. Background of the helmet is red in Smith. The reverse of the scroll, as shown below the supporters' feet are in Smith the same colour as the obverse.
Talocci [tal93] says that the supporters of the coat of arms are Arawaks.
Note that elements of the coat of arms (the four pineapples and red cross) are diaplyed on the banner of the Queen Elizabeth II in Jamaica and the flag of the Prime Minister.
Ivan Sache, 26 Febuary 2002

Proposals for the Flag

1)[Jamaica proposal flag]
by Mark Sensen, 16 September 1997

Smith says "The original Jamaican flag proposal was discovered to resemble closely the flag of Tanganyka, although the design was approved by British authorities, who should have been aware of the conflict."
Dorling-Kindersley Pocket Book says "It was originally designed with vertical stripes, but this was considered too similar to the Tanganykian flag".
The flag of Tanganyka has horizontal stripes, so that I don't understand Dorling-Kindersley mentioning vertical stripes as a source of confusion. The flag drawn by Mark is indeed very close to the flag of Tanganyka.
Ivan Sache, 10 January 2003

by Ivan Sache, 10 January 2003

I got this flag myself on their independence day in 1962.  I was a sailor On the Lake Champlain. A banner (Arms on white) came with the flag.
Jim Wiseman, 3 January 2003

The flag sent by Jim Wiseman might be an other proposal. Dorling-Kindersley says that there was a public contest for the flag.
My (loose) conclusions are:
- Dorling-Kindersley is wrong.
- Mark drew the flag approved by the British authorities.
- The flag sent by Jim is a rejected proposal, or was proposed for a short period, between the Tanganyka-like and the current saltire flags.
Ivan Sache, 10 January 2003