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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The 25th International Congress of Vexillology (ICV): Vexillology - The Study of Flags

Dutch vexillologist Theun Okkerse is the designer of the 25th ICV  Flag.

The 25th International Congress of Vexillology (ICV) will be held in Rotterdam, Netherlands, from August 4 to 10, 2013  simultaneously the 23rd session of the General Assembly of the Fédération Internationale des Associations Vexillologiques (FIAV), amid flag-related tours, seminars, and meetings among various vexillologists on specific topics. The Netherlands Vexillological Association, the Netherlands Flag Museum Foundation and the Rotterdam Flag Parade Foundation, the three Dutch partners joined forces to organize the 25th ICV.

Flag parade of FIAV-members (photo: Francisco Gregoric)
The International Federation of Vexillological Associations (FIAV) is the umbrella organization of flag-studies associations worldwide. Its  members (on six continents) pursue Vexillology - the study of flags of all kinds, their history and their symbolism. FIAV's aim is to promote vexillology as science, to coordinate the activities of its members, to facilitate the exchange of information, and to bring the vexillologists of the different countries closer together. Today FIAV is an international community of over one thousand specialists and friends of flags of all kinds, organized in national or regional organizations.  Since 1965, the vexillologists of the world meet every two years in an International Congress, hosted by one of its member associations. Since 1969, FIAV has sponsored the biennial International Congresses of Vexillology (ICV). Previous Congresses have been held in Muiderberg (1965), Zürich and Ruschlikon (1967), Boston (1969), Turin (1971), London (1973), Ijsselmeer (1975), Washington D.C. (1977), Vienna (1979), Ottawa (1981), Oxford (1983), Madrid (1985),San francisco (1987), Melbourne (1989), Barcelona (1991), Zürich (1993), Warsaw (1995),  Cape Town (1997),Victoria (1999), York (2001), Stockholm (2003), Buenos Aires (2005), Berlin (2007), Yokohama (2009), and Alexandria (2011).

  The FIAV Flag is rectangular in 2:3 proportions. On royal blue field appear two horizontally positioned halyards, reaching from the hoist to the fly, which form in the centre of the flag the "vexillological knot".
The halyards symbolize Vexillology, the science of flags. The blue field of the flag and the two halyards recall navigation, which made flags known all over the world. The knot is symbol of friendship between vexillologists of all nations. The two loops of the knot represent the close ties between the two hemispheres of the world. The two halyards cross the flag from one end to the other--and beyond--thus marking the almost unending field of vexillological research.
The four ends of the halyards and the two loops together make "6", as there are six continents, expressing FIAV's international character.
 Klaes Sierksma (Netherlands) originated the idea to symbolize FIAV with a knot formed by halyards on its flag. In 1967 a committee of the 2nd International Congress of Vexillology make slight changes to Sierksma's proposal and asked Paul Krog to make the final design.

Woman with vexillum (circa 100 BCE)

Dr. Whitney Smith (b. 1940) is recognized world over as the Father of Vexillologists. The term Vexillology, which Smith originated in his 1958 article Flags of the Arab World, refers to the scholarly analysis of all aspects of flags. In his own words “When I went to the New York Public Library as a teenager (18), I discovered that flags were lumped in with heraldry and similar topics.  I felt that the study deserved a name of its own, which I coined:  vexillologyvexillum being the Latin word for flag and ology the Greek word for the study of”.
 In 1961, Boston University student Whitney Smith, 21 and New York City high school teacher Gerhard Grahl , 26 set out the initial issue of the world’s first journal devoted entirely to flags. Publication of No. 1 of The Flag Bulletin, in October 1961 can be considered the “birthday of vexillology”  because it signaled the first international, public, scholarly, and ongoing commitment to the study of flags. (The Flag Bulletin, No 118, Vol. XXXV, No 5, p.163). The following year, Smith established the Flag Research Center in USA.
Dr. Smith worked with Klaes Sierksma  to organize the First International Congress of Vexillology at Muiderberg, Netherlands in 1965. Thereafter they joined Louis Mühlemann in founding the Fédération internationale des associations vexillologiques or The International Federation of Vexillological Associations, known by its acronym—FIAV, which was formally inaugurated in 1969.
 Smith was also responsible for founding the North American Vexillological Association (NAVA) in 1967. NAVA's Whitney Smith Award for an outstanding contribution to North American vexillology is named in Smith's honor.
 Dr. W. Smith has written several books on the subject of flags, notably Flags Through the Ages and Across the World, The Flag Book of the United States, and Flag Lore of all Nations.
 Dr.W. Smith was the designer of the national Flag of Guyana and has served as a vexillographer (flag designer) to a number of governments and organizations. 
My first contact with Dr Whitney Smith, Director of the Flag Research Center, Winchester, Mass.
 Prof. Michel Lupant took this photo of Dr. Whitney Smith on 24 July 2011 in his home in Winchester (The Flag Research Centre). Dr. Smith has in his hand the Vexillum he had manufactured himself when he was young and began his flags collection.
  Prof. Michel R. Lupant: President of the International Federation of Vexillological Association (FIAV), and the founder of the Belgian European Flags Studies Centre.