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The vexillum of the Roman Empire, emblazoned with S·P·Q·R (senātus populusque Rōmānus), "senate and people of Rome".

"Vexilloid" is a term used tenuously to describe vexillary (flag-like) objects used by countries, organizations, or individuals as a form of representation other than flags. Coined by Whitney Smith in 1958, he defined a vexilloid as:

An object which functions as a flag but differs from it in some respect, usually appearance. Vexilloids are characteristic of traditional societies and often consist of a staff with an emblem, such as a carved animal, at the top.

The strictest definition specified in the ultimate sentence describes a vexillum. In a broader sense (that is, taking only Smith's first sentence into account), "vexilloid" can be used of any banner (vexillary object) which is not a flag. Thus it includes vexilla, banderoles, pennons, streamers, standards, and gonfalons.

The first most primitive proto-vexilloids in pre-historic times, and the precursors of all later vexilloids and, after that, flags, may have been simply pieces of cloth dipped in the blood of a defeated enemy.[1]

The use of flags replaced the use of vexilloids for general purposes during late medieval times between about 1100 CE to about 1400 CE, however vexilloids still remain in use for specialized purposes such as for some military units or to symbolize various organizations such as fraternal organization in street parades.[2]

Vexilloids of ancient empires[edit]

The vexilloid of Cyrus the Great, Emperor of the Achaemenid Empire
The Vergina Sun was displayed on the vexilloid of Alexander the Great's Macedonian Empire

Vexilloids of medieval empires[edit]

Emblem of the Palaiologos dynasty and the Byzantine Empire

Vexilloids of modern empires[edit]



  1. ^ Vexilloids, Flags of the World .
  2. ^ Smith, Whitney (1975). Flags Through the Ages and Across the World. New York: McGraw-Hill. ISBN 0-07-059093-1. 
  3. ^ Vexilloid of the Carthaginian Empire:
  4. ^ Wiesehofer, Joseph Ancient Persia New York:1996 I.B. Tauris
  5. ^ Website honoring Dr. Kourosh Aryamanesh—Depicts images of the Derafsh Kaviani:
  6. ^ Image of the Derafsh Kaviani:
  7. ^ Hitler and the Rise of Nazism (Museum of World War II--Navick, Massachusetts, USA):
  8. ^ Image of an SS vexilloid:

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