The Flag of Archenland (and the problem with it)

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The Flag of Archenland (and the problem with it)

Postby Cleander » Apr 02, 2019 3:09 pm

Hey everyone,
I recently noticed something interesting about the flag of Archenland as it is portrayed in the Pauline Baynes illustrations, not to mention the HHB play and the Narniawiki. The official coat-of-arms of Archenland is a red cross on a gold/yellow field.
Here's what I thought was strange: the cross, as it is commonly used in flags, is a religious symbol of Christianity. So how, in a world where Christianity doesn't seem to exist, (at least not on the surface ;) ) could this symbol appear in Narnian heraldry?
One explanation that comes to mind is that King Frank, who as an Englishman would have been quite familiar with Christianity, passed down the idea of the symbol of the cross to his descendants. But then, how would later generations know what this thing on the Archenland banner was supposed to be?
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Re: The Flag of Archenland (and the problem with it)

Postby DiGoRyKiRkE » Apr 03, 2019 12:14 pm

A cross is a fairly common shape. . . even if Frank didn't introduce it, it's not farfetched that Archenlanders would have known of the shape's usefulness for other things.
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Re: The Flag of Archenland (and the problem with it)

Postby Cleander » Apr 03, 2019 4:19 pm

DiGoRyKiRkE wrote:A cross is a fairly common shape. . . even if Frank didn't introduce it, it's not farfetched that Archenlanders would have known of the shape's usefulness for other things.


Hmm, that's a good answer to my question, but it does raise another question: what then IS the symbolism behind the cross shape? What is it supposed to be or represent?
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Re: The Flag of Archenland (and the problem with it)

Postby SirVincentofNarnia » Apr 04, 2019 9:08 am

My thought is that it was King Frank and him knowing about crosses. From my understanding, the Kings of Archenland can trace their lineage back to him, so it would only make sense to me that this is the case.
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Re: The Flag of Archenland (and the problem with it)

Postby Cleander » Apr 06, 2019 11:27 am

Well, I've done a little more research about the non-Christian sybolism behind crosses lately, and I'm kind of internally kicking myself right now for overlooking a few facts:
- The Apache Indians used a white cross as a religious symbol in their dances,
- One modified version of the cross, the fyrfdol or swastika, was used by ancient Germanic cultures as a good luck symbol (until the Nazis used it for their own party power emblem).
- The cross was also an execution device before it became a Christian symbol (duh!) So it's possible that the Archenlanders had at least heard of the practice in other countries if they didn't do it themselves (but they seem like pretty decent people so I can't imagine them doing it.)
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Re: The Flag of Archenland (and the problem with it)

Postby Col Klink » Apr 06, 2019 7:11 pm

My explanation is that Pauline Baynes liked the way the cross looked and didn't come up with any particular reason why the Archenlanders should use it as a symbol. I know that's really boring but somebody had to say it eventually. ;)
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Re: The Flag of Archenland (and the problem with it)

Postby Cleander » Apr 07, 2019 6:21 pm

Col Klink wrote:My explanation is that Pauline Baynes liked the way the cross looked and didn't come up with any particular reason why the Archenlanders should use it as a symbol. I know that's really boring but somebody had to say it eventually. ;)


Um, good point. :D I was just wondering about the plausibility of this symbol being used, since it seems to be an almost official emblem of Archenland in most depictions by other artists (such as the HHB play).

That brings up the next question: What other symbol do you think should be used for the Archenland flag if the cross isn't used in the Netflix series (which it may not be?)
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Re: The Flag of Archenland (and the problem with it)

Postby SirVincentofNarnia » Apr 08, 2019 7:43 am

Maybe a lion? It's really hard to know what all the Netflix series will show concerning Archenland anyway
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Re: The Flag of Archenland (and the problem with it)

Postby Cleander » Apr 08, 2019 9:31 am

Well, the word "Archen" refers to a kind of tree, so maybe Archenland could have a tree on its flag?
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Re: The Flag of Archenland (and the problem with it)

Postby coracle » Apr 08, 2019 12:58 pm

I haven't heard of it as a tree. Arche is a Greek word meaning beginning. (John ch1 v 1 - 'En arche...' - 'In the beginning...').

Does this suggest that Archenland was a place of beginnings, or the beginning land.....?
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Re: The Flag of Archenland (and the problem with it)

Postby Cleander » Apr 08, 2019 1:54 pm

coracle wrote:I haven't heard of it as a tree. Arche is a Greek word meaning beginning. (John ch1 v 1 - 'En arche...' - 'In the beginning...').

Does this suggest that Archenland was a place of beginnings, or the beginning land.....?


I stand corrected! I just looked it up and it seems to have among its meanings the word "root"... maybe this explains my thinking it had to do with trees. :D
(Though I should maybe add that Terebinthia, another land in the Narnian world, gets its name from the word Terebinth, which means oak tree).
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Re: The Flag of Archenland (and the problem with it)

Postby Sir Edmond the just » Apr 14, 2019 10:08 am

I was thinking for the flag it might be a mountain because they lived in the mountains if i remember correctly.
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