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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Sydney International Flag Congress: 26th International Congress of Vexillology (ICV), 2015: A Memoir

Vexillology is the scientific study of flags and related emblems. It is concerned with research into flags of all kinds, both modern and historical, the creation of a body of practice for flag design and usage, and of a body of theory of flag development. Vexillology seeks to understand and explain the important part played by flags in the modern world. (Flag Institute, UK)
Every two years flag experts gather to share their interest and knowledge about flags in International Congress of Vexillology (ICV). ICVs are held every two years beginning 1965 when the first ICV was held at Muiderberg, the Netherlands under the auspices of the International Federation of Vexillological Associations (which is referred to by its French initials: FIAV - Fédération Internationale des Associations Vexillologiques). ICVs consist mainly of lectures, presentations and workshops by the world’s leading flag experts who have the opportunity to present their research and activities to their international peers.
The 26th International Congress of Vexillology (ICV) was held recently from 31st August - 4th September, 2015 in Sydney, Australia, attended by more than 103 delegates from 25 nations.
ICV 26 consisted 33 lectures on a diverse range of flag topics (these will be published shortly by Flags Australia), excursions to flag related sites, viz. Sydney Observatory Hill Flag display (1st Sept), visit to Australian War Memorial Annex, Mitchell, Australian War Memorial and Parliament House in Canberra, Avenue of Flags on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin (2nd Sept), celebrating Australian National Flag Day & Australian Merchant Navy Day. One participant from each nation represented at ICV 26 carried their national flag to the ceremony on 3rd Sept at Martin Place, catching up with friends with a shared interest at an informal FOTW meeting at Barracks on Barrack.
ICV26 provided ample opportunities to learn new things about flags and their usage, to meet old friends and to find new ones for social interaction and networking. As usual tradition ICV 26 culminated in a final banquet on 4th September.
“Flags and Stamps” was represented by Sekhar Chakrabarti. He was the sole Indian participant in Sydney Flag Congress. Mr Ralph Kelly, Chair of the Organising Committee for ICV 26, in his letter of invitation on behalf of Flags Australia dated 3 October 2014 wrote; “Our Sydney International congress will be honoured to have you attend. I have pleasant recollections of meeting you in Rotterdam at the 25th ICV and I greatly appreciated your lecture on the ancient symbols of Indian culture. Your scholarship and contribution to vexillology, philately and national identity in India reflected in your book The Indian National Flag unfurled through Philately, a copy of which is in my personal collection”.

On day 2 (Tuesday, 1st September) Mr Chakrabarti delivered his PPT presentation titled “An early 20th century Indian National Flag remembering the contribution of an Irish lady made 110 years ago”. It was an attempt to unravel one of the little known aspects of an early proposal for an All India National Flag designed by Sister Nivedita – an Irish lady, resettled in India.
Jonathan Dixon of ‘Flags Australia’ reports in the Flags of the World (FOTW); “Sekhar Chakrabarti led us to the contribution of an Irish lady to an early 20th century Indian flag by first reflecting on the women celebrated as first flag makers of national flags - in the USA, Philippines, Haiti and Cuba. In contrast, an early proposed Indian national flag was designed by Sister Nivedita. Born Margaret Noble, she was an Irish woman in India at a time when the 1905 partition of India prompted the beginning of the Swadeshi nationalist movement.  She was one of the earliest to suggest that they needed a national flag, and designed a flash employing a yellow thunderbolt symbol, inspired by the Vedas, on a red field between 108 flames and Bengali text meaning "hail to the mother”. This text also appears on later nationalist flags”.
 Placed here are a few images of the Sydney Flag Congress;

Sydney Observatory Hill Flag display (1st Sept)

Day 3 (2nd Sept): On way to Canberra by bus, seen here Dr David F. Phillips, Director North American Institute of Heraldic and Flag Studies, and Prof. Michel Lupant, President, FIAV
  Catching up with friends with a shared interest at an informal FOTW meeting at Barracks on Barrack.

The special post mark commemorating 17th ICV in 1997, Cape Town, South Africa. Perhaps, it is the only philatelic example on International Flag Congress - a present from Mr Bruce Berry of the South African Vexillological Association (SAVA). 
Ralph Kelly and Ralph Bartlett of Flags Australia at the Mt Ainslie Lookout in Canberra (original removed and the cropped version re-posted on 30th Sept.) the duo of the three main architects of the ICV26, who made the Sydney ICV, a GRAND SUCCESS and the most memorable one.