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International Banner of Peace (Roerich Movement flag)

Last modified: 2000-03-24 by antonio martins
Keywords: pacifism | international banner of peace | roerich movement | reriq (nikolai~) | disc (red) | madonna oriflamma | painting | saint mary | historical ruins symbol | monument | protection |
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[Roerich flag]
by Alvin Helms, 29 Nov 1999
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Origin and symbolism of the flag

The world peace flag is based on a design by the Russian artist and mystic Nichola Roerich, who proposed the red circle with three dots inside as an international symbol to mark museums, schools, and similar cultural landmarks to prevent destruction by aerial bombs ... this about the time of World War I. The idea was similar to the large red cross that marks hospitals and hospital tents in war zones ... similarly to "prevent" bombing and strafing of helpless patients and medical personnel. The concept has been lost in today’s world.
William Dunning, 17 Mar 1998

The International Banner of Peace has three dots representing the past, present and future enclosed in a red circle representing infinity. It was devised after World War I by Nicholas Roerich, a Russian artist of German descent who spent most of his life in India painting and developing mystic philosophies. (Source: The Moscow Times, March 25, 1998)
Alexei Arkhipov, 25 Mar 1998

Nikolai~ Reriq was a german descent russian mysticist and philosopher (approx. 1870-1946; the name looks like "Pepux", original german spelling "Roerich" — could it be "Rörich" also?). He is very popular in nowadays Russia, where his followers are organized in a cultural movement more or less related with "New Age" tendences. They use as their symbol the device shown above — which was orginally designed by Roerich himself and it is charged with some more or less deep symbolism: from memory, the three dots stand for art, science and philosophy (including religion), encircled and bounded toghether to form culture. This symbol appears on one of Roerich’s paintings, Madonna Oriflamma, of 1932, which depicts Saint Mary holding and showing a white cloth with it.

I know nothing of the current usage of this flag, promoted originally by Roerich as the “International Banner of Peace”, in the lines of what is reported bellow, but two things:

  • In Russia this symbol would be identified nowadays as that of a religious / philosophical group, and nothing more nor less.
  • The one-over-two-dots symbol (no ring) is usually used in cartography to denote important historical remains, usually ruins; maybe it is connected to the Roerich flag, I dont know.
António Martins, 30 Nov 1999

Note that the shade of red used in this flag is slightly darker than usual. This is not a mistake. Every instance I found of the symbol was shown in darker shades of red.
Alvin Helms, 29 Nov 1999

Roerich Peace Pact

The Roerich Peace Pact was signed in Washington in 1935 by the US and 20 Latin American countries. Other countries, including Soviet Union, added their signatures in 1959.The flag became a symbol of commitment to the protection of historical, cultural or scientifically significant monuments. (Source: The Moscow Times, March 25, 1998)
Alexei Arkhipov, 25 Mar 1998

Protection of Artistic and Scientific Institutions and Historic Monuments

The High Contracting Parties, animated by the purpose of giving conventional form to the postulates of the Resolution approved on December 16, 1933, by all the States represented at the Seventh International Conference of American States, held at Montevideo, which recommended to "the Governments of America which have not yet done so that they sign the ’Roerich Pact’, initiated by the Roerich Museum in the United States, and which has as its object, the universal adoption of a flag, already designed and generally known, in order thereby to preserve in any time of danger all nationally and privately owned immovable monuments which form the cultural treasure of peoples", have resolved to conclude a treaty with that end in view, and to the effect that the treasures of culture be respected and protected in time of war and in peace, have agreed upon the following articles: (...)


In order to identify the monuments and institutions mentioned in article I, use may be made of a distinctive flag (red circle with a triple red sphere in the circle on a white background) in accordance with the model attached to this treaty.

signed by the US and other Pan-American Union states, 15 April 1935
I don’t know how extensively has the pact flag been used.
Will Linden, 12 Mar 1996

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