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Dictionary of Vexillology: C (Chakra - Church Pennant)

Last modified: 2021-11-21 by rob raeside
Keywords: vexillological terms |
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A wheel-like emblem that represents the Buddhist Dharma Chakra (or wheel of law) and which appears in a variety of different designs on the national flag of India, the military flags of Thailand and several other flags both past and present – an ashoka chakra (see also ‘Buddhist flag’).

[chakra] [chakra] [Dharma Chakra]
National Flag of India and Detail (fotw); Buddhist Flag, Thailand (fotw)

A ceremonial cup usually in some precious metal, occasionally covered or shown with a communion wafer, and used in most forms of Christian worship (see also ‘Christian flag 1)’).

[Chalice] [Chalice] [Chalice] [Chalice]
Flag of Fanas, Switzerland (fotw); Arms of Třanovice, Czechia (fotw); Spurious Medieval Flag of Galicia, Spain (fotw); Arms of Jakšić, Croatia (fotw);

In UK usage a term that may be used to describe the shape, now obsolete, of those guidons formerly carried by formations of cavalry – an angled swallow-tail - see ‘descate’ and ‘guidon’.

angled pole
Guidon of the Royal Gloucestershire Yeomanry 1797, UK (fotw)

Please note that these terms have been introduced by the Editors since no established alternatives could be found.

An alternative heraldic term for base - ‘base 1)’.


The French heraldic term used when the divisions on a shield or banner of arms form a triangle pointing upward, and employed by French heralds in place of the equivalent English terms per chevron or per pile reversed – see ‘per chevron’ and its following note, plus the note following ‘per pile’ and ‘pile 2)’ (also ‘chaussé’).

[chapé example] [chapé example] [chapé example]
Arms and Flag of Koprivnica-Krizevci County, Croatia (fotw); Arms of Schmitten, Germany (Wikipedia)

In US army usage a flag, bearing a device corresponding to a particular religion, displayed in a military chapel.

[US Chapel Flag]
Christian Faith Chapel Flag, US (fotw)

In US army usage a flag, bearing a device corresponding to a particular religion, flown in the field to designate the location of a chaplain's quarters or office, or the site at which religious services are being held.

[Jewish chaplain flag] [Muslim chaplain flag]
Jewish Faith Chaplain’s Flag, US (fotw); Muslim Faith Chaplain’s Flag, US (fotw)

An alternative heraldic term for garland - see ‘garland 1)’.

[chaplet] [chaplet]
Flag and Arms of Schönengrund, Switzerland (fotw & ICH)

A term sometimes (inaccurately and incorrectly) used in place of crown of rue – see ‘crown of rue’.

[chaplet of rue]
Arms of Saxony, Germany (fotw)

An alternative heraldic term for escarbuncle - see ‘escarbuncle’.

Arms of Kleve County, Germany (fotw)

1) Generically, any emblem, object or design placed upon the field of a flag or shield (see also ‘Appendix IV’).
2) Specifically, a symbol placed upon the field of a flag, which is neither an emblem as specifically defined herein, nor a badge (see also ‘emblem’, ‘emblem, state, national or royal’, ‘emblem military or governmental/departmental’ and ‘badge’).
3) (v) The act of placing such a charge on a flag.

Please note however, that with a considerable degree of heraldic justification, some sources propose the charge to be an integral part of the design of a shield or banner of arms and usually not used separately, whereas, in general a badge may. It is suggested therefore, that the entry ‘badge (in heraldry)’, and a suitable glossary or heraldic dictionary be consulted.

1) In vexillology and heraldry the act of having placed a charge on a flag, shield or banner of arms (especially "charged with") – to have defaced with a charge (see also ‘charge’ and ‘deface’).
2) In heraldry this term may also be used when one charge is placed upon (that is on top of) and within another – but see ‘surmounted by 2)’ (also ‘debruised’).

[charged] [charged]
Flag of Nottinghamshire, UK (fotw); Arms of Altkirchen, Germany (Wikipedia)

The French heraldic term used when the divisions on a shield or banner of arms form a triangle pointing downward, and employed by French heralds in place of the equivalent English terms per chevron reversed or per pile – see ‘per chevron’ and its following note, the note following ‘per pile’ and ‘pile 2)’  (also ‘chapé’).

[chaussé example] [chaussé example] [chaussé example]
Flag and Arms of Var, France (fotw); Flag of Valmajor, Portugal (fotw)

See ‘sports flag 4)’.

[chequered flag]
Checkered flag (fotw)

1) In vexillology, the term used for a flag (or sometimes a charge) bearing more than four but an otherwise varied number of rectangles (usually but not invariably squares) in alternating colours – but see ‘compony’ and ‘counter-compony’ (also ‘charge 1)’ and ‘quarterly’).
2) In heraldry the alternative terms covering a shield or banner of arms, or an ordinary/charge thereon, bearing (not less than twenty) squares of a metal and colour alternately. - but see ‘equipollé’ and the note below, ‘compony’ and ‘counter-compony’ (also ‘ordinary’).

[Checky - North Brabant Netherlands] [Checky - Ostrów Wielkopolski arms] [Radvanice, Czechia] [Example]
Flag of North Brabant, Netherlands (fotw); Arms of Ostrów Wielkopolski, Poland (fotw); Flag of Radvanice, Czechia (fotw); Arms of Kupres, Bosnia and Herzegovina (fotw)

Please note that in heraldry the exact number of squares (if more than twenty) is usually left undefined, however, any number between ten and twenty squares is generally specified, and that in vexillology the number of such rectangles (regardless of quantity) is often precisely regulated.

flag of Croatia Arms of Croatia
National Flag and Arms of Croatia (fotw)

In heraldry see ‘equipollé’.

Checky of Nine Checky of Nine
Flag and Arms of Macieira de Cambra, Portugal (fotw & ICH)

See ‘checky’.

Ostrorog, Poland
Flag of Ostrorog, Poland (fotw)

An alternative heraldic term to caltrap - see ‘caltrap’.


1) On flags any ‘V’ shaped charge on a flag irrespective of the width of the arms. The standard orientation of a chevron on flags is the same as 2) below so when the apex is towards the top of the flag it is a standard or simple chevron, when towards the base of the flag a reversed on inverted chevron, however, when the apex is towards the fly it may be called a hoist chevron, and with the apex towards the hoist a fly chevron (see ‘inverted’ and ‘reversed’).
2) In heraldry, the term for a charge with arms in the shape of a generally (but not invariably) inverted letter ‘V’, and heraldic use frequently suggests that a chevron should have a width equal to one-fifth the field of a banner of arms or shield – but see the second following note (also ‘party’, ‘per chevron’, ‘naissant’, ‘pile 2)’ and ‘reversed 2)’).

chevron chevron chevron chevron chevron
Example; Flag of Horebeke, Belgium (fotw); Flag of Boelenslaan, Netherlands (fotw); Flag of Hidaard, The Netherlands (fotw); Flag of NAVA, US (fotw)

a) With regard to 1), the Editors have adopted a heraldic model in defining a chevron on flags, however, please note also that there are conflicting definitions with regard to the standard vexillological orientation of a chevron and that usage of this term has not yet settled upon a consistent approach.
b) With regard to 2), a chevron may also be embowed, wavy, embattled or otherwise differenced – see - see ‘
embattled’ ‘embowed’ and ‘wavy’.

Lamboing, Switzerland De Valom, Netherlands De Valom, Netherlands Arzl im Pritztal, Austria
Flag of Lamboing, Switzerland (fotw); Arms and Flag of De Valom, The Netherlands (fotw); Arms of Arzl im Pritztal, Austria (ICH)

A heraldic term used when two or more chevrons are displayed together on a shield or banner of arms, and heraldic use frequently suggests that a chevronel should be one-half the width of a chevron (see ‘chevron’ above).

[chevronel] [chevronel]
Arms and Flag of Les Geneveys-sur-Coffrane, Switzerland (CS & fotw)

Please note that in heraldry the standard orientation of a chevronel is the same as that of a chevron and that variations of this standard may be described using the terminology given in 2)’ above.

A heraldic term for the top horizontal section of a shield or banner of arms, however, heraldic use frequently suggests that a chief should be one-third of the total depth of that shield, of a banner of arms or any quartering thereof (see also ‘banner of arms’, ‘base’, ‘fillet 2)’ and ‘shield 2)’).

[chief example] [Raħal Ġdid] [Prince Edward Island]
Example; Flag of Prince Edward Island, Canada (fotw); Flag of Raħal Ġdid, Malta (fotw)

See ‘cross of the order of the knights of Christ’.

Order of the Knights of Christ
Putative Banner of the Order of the Knights of Christ (fotw)

1) Generically one of a number of designs symbolizing Christianity – an ecclesiastic, ecclesiastical or church flag - but see ‘religious flag’ (also ‘church flag 2)’ and ‘marion flag’).
2) Specifically in largely US usage, the white flag with a blue canton containing a red Latin cross designed in 1897 by Charles Overton, and used by various Protestant groups

Armenian Catholic Church Georgian Orthodox Church Anglican Church [Christian flag]
Flag of Armenian Catholics (fotw); Flag of Georgian Orthodox Church (fotw); The Anglican Catholic Church, US (fotw); Charles Overton’s Flag (fotw)

Please note with regard to 2) that usage of the Charles Overton flag was originally (largely) confined to the United States, but evidence of growing use elsewhere has been reported.

A medieval term, now obsolete, for the bearer of a standard, flag or banner upon which the figure of Christ crucified was depicted.

See ‘banner 3)’ (also ‘labarum 2)’).

[church banner]

A direct translation of the German term kirchenspange – but see ‘forked cross’.

[church clasp]
Arms of Affoltern, Switzerland (Wikipedia)

1) See ‘Christian flag 1)’ and ‘religious flag’.
2) In UK usage and some others, the flag flown from or outside a church; particularly that flown from an Established (or Anglican) Church defaced with the appropriate diocesan arms.
3) A direct translation of the German term kirckenfahne – but see ‘labarum 2)’.

[church flag example] [church flag example]
Episcopal Churches, US (fotw); The Anglican Diocese of Canterbury (fotw)

In US, UK and some other naval usage, the pennant hoisted aboard a warship or naval shore establishment during religious services (see also ‘bethel flag’ and ‘flying angel flag’).

[Church pennant - UK, Netherlands]  [Church pennant - Portugal]  
Pennants: UK/The Netherlands and Portugal (fotw)

Please note however, that in US usage this may also be called a worship pennant, particularly when in connection with a non-Christian service.

[Church pennant - Jewish worship pennant US]
Jewish Worship Pennant, US (fotw)

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