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Dictionary of Vexillology: Appendix VI

Stripes in Heraldry

Last modified: 2013-12-03 by rob raeside
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The Dictionary of Vexillogy:


The following terms may be encountered in a heraldic context with regard to stripes.

Diagonal Stripes

The following terms may be encountered when referring to a diagonal stripe in flags, or banners of arms, or heraldic flags of some other description.


Bend
A straight broad band extending from the upper hoist corner to the lower fly corner centred on the diagonal meridian – a diagonal stripe, a descending or falling diagonal. However, heraldic use frequently suggests that the bend should occupy about one-third of the field when charged, and one-fifth when plain – but see ‘descending diagonal’ and ‘per bend’ in the main text.

Campania, Italy [Strasbourg, France
Flag of Campania, Italy (fotw); Flag of Strasbourg, France (fotw)


Bend Sinister (plural Bends Sinister)
A straight broad, band extending from the lower hoist corner to the upper fly corner centred on the diagonal meridian – a diagonal stripe, an ascending or rising diagonal. However, heraldic use frequently suggests that a bend should occupy about one-third of the field when charged, and one-fifth when plain - but see ‘ascending diagonal’ and ‘per band sinister’ in the main text (also ‘sinister’).

Shield of Oostdongeradeel, Holland Shield of Oostdongeradeel, Holland
Shield of Oostdongeradeel, Holland (CS); Flag of Ciskei, South Africa 1977 – 94 (fotw)


Bendlet and Bendlet Sinister
A diminutive of bend and bend sinister, nominally half the width of a bend but often much narrower and usually appearing in numbers of two or more.

Courchapoix, CH
Flag of Courchapoix, Switzerland (fotw)


Bendy
The division of a shield, banner of arms, flag or any division thereof into four or more (usually equal) bends or bendlets in alternating tinctures.


Molondin, Switzerland Silly, Belgium
Flag of Molondin, Switzerland (fotw); Flag of Silly, Belgium (fotw)


Bendy Sinister
The division of a shield, banner of arms, flag or any division thereof into four or more (usually equal) bends or bendlets sinister in alternating tinctures (see also sinister).

Trüllikon, Switzerland
Flag of Trüllikon, Switzerland (fotw)


Horizontal Stripes

The following terms for various types of horizontal stripes may be encountered when referring to flags, banners of arms, or heraldic flags of some other description.

Fess (or Fesse)
A horizontal band of colour or metal on the field of a flag with its centreline along the horizontal meridian. The fess is confined to the centre of the field; however, heraldic use frequently suggests that it should be about one-third of the width of that field. The term, perhaps unfairly, is not much used in vexillology (see also ‘bar’, 'stripe', ‘triband’ and ‘tricolour’).
[Fess]

Bar
A horizontal band of colour or metal on the field of a flag. In heraldry it is sometimes regarded as a diminutive of fess, however, it is rarely borne singly and heraldic use frequently suggests that it should be about one-fifth the width of the field. In vexillology fess and bar are regarded as almost synonymous, with the difference that a fess is confined to the centreline of the field, whereas bar is not.
[bar]

Barrulet (barrelet, barruly, barrully, or bracelet)
A diminutive of bar which is about one quarter the width of the bar or about one-twentieth the width of the field, and which is never bourn singly – barrelet, barruly, barrully or bracelet. The term is rarely used in vexillology, where the phrase “a narrow horizontal stripe” is more likely to be seen.

Barry
The field divided into four or more horizontal bars. See also a heraldic glossary or dictionary for various other variations of barry used on the field of a shield and ‘barry wavy’, .
[pale]

Filet
A diminutive of bar, but of no specified width.

Vertical Stripes

The following terms may be encountered when referring to a vertical stripe in a flag, or banner of arms, or heraldic flag of some other description.

Pale
A vertical band on the field of a flag with its centreline along the vertical meridian. The pale is confined to the centre of the field and is about one third of the width of the field. The term, perhaps unfairly, is not much used in vexillology (see also 'stripe', ‘triband’ and ‘tricolour’.
[pale]

Pallet (or Palet)
A vertical band on the field of a flag that is about one quarter of the width of the field, whilst an endorse is a vertical band that is about one twelfth or one sixteenth of the width of the field. These diminutives of 'pale' are only likely to be encountered in banners of arms.
[pallet]

Paly
A flag divided into four or more straight vertical bands, and the term vergette is used by French heralds when there are more than ten bands.
[paley]

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