About the Brittany flag

The flag of Brittany is called the Gwenn-ha-du which means white and black in Breton. It is also unofficially used in the departement of Loire-Atlantique, although this now belongs to the Pays de la Loire and not to the region of Brittany, as the territory of Loire-Atlantique is historically part of the province of Brittany. Nantes (Naoned), its prefecture, was once one of the two capital cities of Brittany.

The flag's dimensions are not fixed, and may vary from 9:14 cm to 8:12 m. The flag is not only used by cultural associations or autonomists but by everyone in general. For years, the authorities considered the flag as a separatist symbol, but the attitude has now changed and the flag, no longer having any political connotations, can appear everywhere, even on public buildings along with the other official flags. It is widely used throughout Brittany and can even be seen on town halls in the region. Because of the absence of legislation concerning regional flags in France the flag is also flown on sail and fishing boats. The design of the ermine spots can vary but the version most frequently seen is shown above.

The Breton flag is unusual in that it is in black and white, as is true with the flags of Cornwall, Corsica and the Swiss Canton of Fribourg, among others.

The flag was created in 1923 by Morvan Marchal. He used as his inspiration the flags of the United States and Greece as these two countries were seen at that time as the respective symbols of liberty and democracy.

The nine horizontal stripes represent the traditional dioceses of Brittany into which the duchy was divided historically. The five black stripes represent the French or Gallo speaking dioceses of Dol, Nantes, Rennes, Saint-Malo and Saint-Brieuc - while the four white stripes represent the Breton speaking dioceses of Tregor, Leon, Cornouaille and Vannes. The ermine canton recalls the ducal arms of Brittany.

The flag first came to notice by a wider public at the Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes in Paris in 1925. It was adopted by various cultural and nationalist groups through the 1920s and 1930s. However, its association with nationalist and separatist groups during the Second World War brought suspicions of collaboration on the flag. A revival of interest in the flag took place in the 1960s, since when it has lost an association with separatism in the mind of the public and become a widely accepted symbol for all Brittany and Bretons. The older ermine field flag and black cross continue to be rarely used, though, by some individuals and groups.

In blazons, the flag is Sable, four bars Argent; the canton ermine. Traditionally, coats of arms could be displayed as a rectangular banner, as well as on a shield.

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