Thursday, 31 May 2012

Culture Project Two: The Peruvian Flag

For my second culture project I chose to look at the Peruvian flag and answer the following questions on it: 1) Where did the Peruvian flag originate and 2) what meaning do the different parts in the coat of arms have?
From looking into this, I have found out that the history of the Peruvian flag is not a simple history, is quite complicated really.

The current flag (the one above) was adopted by the government of Peru on February 25th 1825. As you can it is a vertical triband with red outer bands and a single white middle band. The red in the flag represents hardiness, bravery, strength and valor from those who fought for independence from the Spanish and the white represents peace and honesty.

The flags coat of arms features:

A shield which has the image of a vincune, a cinchona tree and a yellow cornucopia which is spilling out gold coins.
  • ·     The vicuna is a llama-like ruminant mammal of the central Andes which possesses a fine silky fleece and one of the national animals of Peru
  • ·    The cinchona tree is important because it is the source of quinine which is a powerful anti-malarial drug and the key flavour in tonic water.
  • ·    The cornucopia is a cone-shaped ornament or receptacle with overflowing contents which signify prosperity - it is also called horn of plenty. This represents the mineral resources of Peru.

The shield is framed by a green wreath which is symbolic of economy for the Tupac Katari who are an indigenous people of Peru.

There are different variants of the Peruvian flag:
  • ·       The National flag which is also known as the civil flag is used by citizens.
  • ·       The National ensign or the state flag which us used by state institutions and is used during ceremonies in which the flag is hoisted in the presence of spectators. A form of this flag, the national standard is used indoors by official and private institutions.
  • ·      The War flag which is similar to the state flag and is marked with the national shield. It is flown by the military and the police and is typically inscribed with the service, name and number of the unit flying it.
  • ·      The Naval Jack flag is not based on the triband; it is a square flag, consisting of a white square with the coat of arms on a red field. It is used on battleships, usually with the ensign of the highest-rank officer on board above it.

As mentioned before the history of the Peru flag is complicated and here is why:
There have been different flags in different years, first of all there was the flag of 1820 which was the first flag of the Republic of Peru and was created by General Jose de San Martin and officially decreed on 21 October 1820. It is diagonally quartered, with white upper and lower fields, and the others red. The flag was defaced with an oval-shaped laurel crown in the center, surrounding a sun rising behind mountains by the sea.  The flag proved difficult to adopt due to its complex construction; without standardized measurements in place at the time, a triangular flag proved difficult to build.
Then there is the flag of March 1822 when Jose Bernardo de Tagle,  Marquis of Torre Tagle and Supreme Delegate of the Republic, who replaced San Martín decreed a new design for the flag. This consisted of a horizontal triband, with a white band between two red ones, and a golden sun at the centre, similar to the flag of Argentina. This modification was justified, according to Torre Tagle, by the inconvenience in the construction of the previous version, among other issues.
A problem came up on the battlefields: the resemblance with the Spanish flag especially from far away, made the distinction between the armies difficult, which led to a new change to the flag.
Then there is the flag of May 1822 which was changed by Torre Tangle. The new version was a vertical triband, with red outer bands and a white middle band, with a golden sun representing Inti at the centre.
Then there is the Flag of 1825 which is now the official flag of the country.
From 1836 to 1839, Peru was temporarily dissolved into the Republics of South Peru and North Peru which joined Bolivia to form the Peru-Bolivian confederation and there was a different flag to represent both of these regions.
The South was formed first, thus adopting a new flag: a red vertical band on the left, with a golden sun and four small stars above (representing Arequipa, Ayachucho, Cuzco and Puno the four Departments of the republic), and the right side divided into an upper green band and a lower white one. The North kept the currency and all symbols of the dissolved Peru, including its flag.
The flag of the Peru-Bolivian Confederation showed the coats of arms of Bolivia, South and North Peru, from left to right and slanted at different angles, on a red field, adorned by a laurel crown.
After the dissolution of the Confederation, the old Republic of Peru was restored to its 1836 composition, as were its national symbols.
In 1950, General Odría modified the national flag to its current form, removing the coat of arms from the civil flag, since it was used de facto, being easier to make. The national ensign and war flag were created for exclusive uses, each with a variant of the coat of arms, which was also changed slightly. These remain as the official flags today.
Every year on June 7th, Peru has a national flag day which celebrates their flag. This day is also the anniversary of the Battle of Arica. 


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