The flags of Catalunya

Flags in Freedom Square, Glasgow, 12 Oct 2014
Freedom Square, Glasgow, 12 Oct 2014

This morning the Catalan First Minister, Artur Mas, announced that an unofficial consultation about independence would be held on 9 Nov 2014. A more binding official independence referendum planned for the same date has been blocked by legal moves from Spain. Our attention will be focused on developments there over the next few weeks.

Watching the massive Catalan rallies on the news, I’ve been curious about the different flags on view. Pro-independence rallies here in Scotland are now an incredibly colourful spectacle with fifty shades of saltire and a multitude of international flags expressing our solidarity with independence movements throughout the world. Catalan flags are undoubtedly the most numerous in this category and I was curious to figure out what the different flags from Catalunya mean.

The Senyera

Senyera, flag of Catalunya

The Senyera, meaning simply ensign, banner or flag in Catalan, is the official flag of the autonomous community of Catalunya and one of the oldest flags still in use in Europe. Its origins are disputed between Aragon and Barcelona, but date back to the 11th or 12th centuries. Its simple design comprises 4 horizontal bars of red on a yellow or gold background and is the basis for the other Catalan flags below.

The Blue Estelada

The Senyera Estelada, meaning “starred flag” in Catalan, has become the unofficial flag of the Catalan independence movement. This is invariably the Catalan flag we see at rallies in Scotland. It dates from 1918 and features the Senyera red and gold with a lone white star on a triangle of blue. The lone star symbolises independence and appears on many other flags such as Aragon, Galicia, Asturias and Andalusia.

The Red Estelada

The Senyera Estelada with red star
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the (blue) Senyera Estelada was adopted by Catalans in the struggle against the Franco dictatorship. Some socialist and marxist groups adjusted the flag to incorporate a lone red star, either on a white or yellow triangle. The latter design (pictured) has survived as the emblem of socialist and communist pro-independence groups.

Independence Live in Barcelona

Alistair Spearing discusses Catalan independence with Kevin Gibney in Barcelona on Sun 12 Oct 2014.

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