Here are some flags from Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, and associated places in the South Caucasus. I won’t go into the details of the symbolism because I don’t care — white symbolizes purity or loyalty or something, red symbolizes blood spilled, blah blah blah, whatever. I’ll just list the flags along with historical remarks.
Note to readers: This will be a dry, picture-heavy post, but there will be a couple of decent jokes, so it is recommended that you read the whole thing.
Georgia‘s current flag consists of a red St. George cross on a white background (like the flag of England) with a red Bolnisi cross on each of the four white patches.
The St. George flag was officially adopted in 2004, and was used during the Rose Revolution of 2003. It features in the current flag of Adjara.
Georgia’s first post-Soviet flag was the same one it used during its brief independence between the Imperial and Soviet eras.
From 1951 on, the flag of the Georgian SSR was a striking variation of the basic Soviet flag.
Azerbaijan‘s flag consists of blue, red, and green horizontal stripes with a star and crescent in the center.
A variation of this flag is used by Azeris in Iran.
Another variation was briefly used in the Azerbaijani exclave Nakhchivan.
The post-1951 flag of the Azerbaijan SSR was another variation of the Soviet flag.
- Armenia, Nagorno Karabakh, and Javakheti
The flag of Armenia consists of horizontal red, blue, and orange stripes. The flag of Nagorno Karabakh is the same, except that a piece of it is “detached” (meaning, obviously, that Nagorno Karabakh is a detached part of Armenia). The flag of the Georgian region of Javakheti is the same colors organized as a Nordic cross.
The flag of the Armenian SSR looked basically like the Azerbaijan one.
The Abkhaz flag has a hand on it. It employs Christmas colors (red, green, and white), but strangely doesn’t look Christmas-y at all.
- South Ossetia
The South Ossetian flag consists of horizontal stripes of white, red, and yellow. The same flag is used in North Ossetia.
Recall that for about a month, Transcaucasia was united and independent. Between negotiations with the Ottomans and petty internal squabbles, they adopted a flag of horizontal yellow, black, and red stripes.
I know what you’re thinking: “Hang on, isn’t that the flag of Germany?” No. The German flag uses the same colors, but in a different order.
Fortunately, there is a simple mnemonic device that can help you tell the two flags apart (the same mnemonic device used to distinguish between the harmless milk snake and the highly venomous North American coral snake):
Red on yellow: deadly fellow
Red on black: venom lack
- Union Republics, pre-1951
Prior to 1951, the flags of the Soviet union republics (or SSRs (Soviet Socialist Republics)) had ugly, boring flags: initials red backgrounds, sometimes with the hammer and sickle. This violates one of the cardinal rules of flag design, and script changes meant that flags sometimes had to be redesigned.
For instance, the Azerbaijani flag was first issued in Latin lettering and reissued in 1940 in Cyrillic. (Notice that the initials are AzSSR. This is so it wouldn’t be thought to be an Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, or ASSR.)
The flag of the Armenian SSR was first issued in Western Armenian, and then reissued in 1940 in (reformed) Eastern Armenian.
The flag of the Transcaucasian SFSR was not quite as boring as the Armenian or Azerbaijani ones, but was still boring compared to the whimsical lettering of the first flag of the Russian SFSR.
The flag of the Georgian SSR at some point incorporated Abkhaz (written in Georgian script).
The flag of the Adjar ASSR initially featured Arabic script (at least I think so; it’s hard to tell with some of these whether they’re real or not).
- Georgia (the American state)
Here’s a curious little knick-knack that I would’ve thought was a hoax if I hadn’t seen it listed on eBay: a pin from the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta that reads “TWO GEORGIA’S [sic] UNITED IN FRIENDSHIP”.
The Soviet [sic] Georgia Olympic team sold them to help pay their expenses; but they were NOT sold in commercial outlets. This unique pin is beautiful, well made and will certainly get attention whether worn as a lapel, vest or hat pin.
No doubt. The pin features not just one, but two outdated flags: after controversy surrounding its use of the Confederate battle flag, Georgia changed its flag in 2001 to something more generic. If you’ve been looking for the perfect Christmas present for your favorite Georgia blogger, this might be the knick-knack for you.
UPDATE 5/28/14: Here is a collection of ideas for Georgian flags (mostly featuring Bolnisi and Nino crosses. At least I’m pretty sure that’s what it is, since it’s in Russian.