With more than 200 sovereign countries (most of which have subdivisions such as states, provinces, oblasts, etc.) and an estimated two million cities and towns, the world is full of flags. A lot of them are wonderfully designed and even more are just plain bad. However, not all flags fall neatly on this spectrum. To put it plainly, there are a lot of flags that aren’t necessarily good or bad; they are just bizarre. This is the fourth post in an ongoing series where we examine some of the world’s weirdest flags.
“Nothing to see here, just a bear with a bible on my back. Carry on.” – Bear (probably). Like most Russia flags, this is a recreation of the city’s coat of arms, which again, is a smiling bear carrying a bible on its back.
I’ve mentioned in my state flag ranking how I thought Colorado’s flag pulled off a stylized “C” very well. In 1983, Calgary held a contest to redesign its flag. From more than 1,000 submissions, they chose what looks like an Arby’s ad. I’m sure it looked good in the early 80s, but it hasn’t held up well.
Vesegonsky District, Russia
While the stylized lobster is a bit strange, it is supposed to represent the Vesegonsky District’s water ecosystem. What makes it truly weird is that the Vesegonsky District is landlocked. It does features a large, man-made lake, however, that apparently can support lobsters. So kudos to them for taking pride in their lobster lake.
Mer-lion! You can find a lot of mythical creatures on flags (mainly dragons), but this is the first mer-hybrid I’ve seen (if you know of any more, please let me know!). I can’t find much about its symbolism, but Svirstroy is located on the Svir river so I’m guessing that the town was once ruled by mythical water beasts. Just a guess.
Chuquisaca Department, Bolivia
This is a variation of the Spanish Cross of Burgundy, the royal symbol of Spain’s first king. While many modern flags that feature the Spanish Cross choose a simple St. Andrews/St. Patrick style cross (including Florida and Alabama), some opt for a more traditional design that features hashes extending from the cross. When the royal symbol was first introduced, the cross was supposed to depict two crossed tree branches and the hashes were cut off limbs. While some flags incorporate these hashes to make a clean design, the designers of this flag decided to go the weirder, more chaotic route.
This gives “holy cow” a whole new meaning… A terrifying, fever-dreamy new meaning.
This is supposed to represent Ohansk’s fishing industry. I see one somewhat normal looking fishing net surrounded by new-age torture devices.
Yaroslavl Oblast, Russia
“Is that Karl? Oh hey, Karl! I’m going off to battle.” – Bear.
Zulia State, Venezuela
This flag is a strange but pretty cool design. And most of the symbolism is pretty normal; the blue represents the various waterways in the state, the black represents oil, and the sun represents hospitality and warmth. Where it gets weird is the lightning bolt. It is supposed to be the Catatumbo ray, the “guide of the Zulian citizen.” I can’t decide if that is cool or cultish, but it sure is weird.
“Oh. Hey. You weren’t supposed to see this.” – Bear.
This stylized gonfanon is supposed to be the banner of Eustache III, count of Auvergne. I see a penis.
For the part four finale, we come back to Russia (of course) for what looks like two separate weird flags merged into one. The top is supposed to be a ferret (the second most popular Russian flag animal behind the bear) but it looks more like a black squirrel or beaver to me that is plotting something very evil. The three lotus flowers at the bottom look like they were made by someone in the late 90s who just got a computer and really wanted to incorporate some of the 3D stock graphics that came with Microsoft Office.
More weird flags are on the way!