Banner of Peace

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Delegates of Second international conference dedicated to the Roerich Pact. Bruges, August 1932.
Above them hangs a Banner of Peace.
Banner of Peace sign
With the permission of the Museum
© Copyright
Nicolas Roerich Museum

Banner of Peace is a symbol of the Roerich Pact. This Pact is the first international treaty dedicated to protection of artistic and scientific institutions and historical monuments. (It was signed on April 15, 1935).

Author of the Banner of Peace sign

This sign was proposed by N.K.Roerich for an International Pact for protection of culture values. Nicholas Roerich wrote:

“The Banner of Peace, as is now well-known, is the symbol of the Roerich Pact. This great humanitarian ideal provides in the field of mankind's cultural achievements the same guardianship as the Red Cross provides in alleviating the physical sufferings of man”.

Description of the Banner of Peace sign

N.K.Roerich described the sign created by him using follow remarkable expressions:

“… proposed banner is the symbol of whole world, not a country, but the whole civilized world. The Banner proposed has on the white background three united amaranth spheres as a symbol of Eternity and Unity. Although we don’t know when this Banner will fly over all cultural monuments but undoubtedly the seed has been sprouted. Already it attracts the attention of great intellects and is directed from one heart to another, awaking the idea of Peace and Benevolence among peoples”.[2]
“ … We are asked to collect where the signs of our Banner of Peace are. The sign of trinity is found scattered around the whole world. Now anybody can explain it by various ways. One says that it is the past, present and future united by the circle of eternity. Others explain it as a religion, knowledge and art in the circle of culture”.[2]

The following description of the sign is in official text of the Pact:

“In order to identify the monuments and institutions mentioned in article I, use may be made of a distinctive flag (red circle with a triple red sphere in the circle on a white background) in accordance with the model attached to this treaty”.

Picture of the Banner of Peace sign

The origin of N.K.Roerich’s idea for the creation of the Banner of Peace sign was an ancient Russian icon by Andrei Rublev. N.K. Roerich wrote about this in his letter to baron M.A. Taube:

At last I can send You a home photo of my last picture dedicated to meaning sense of the banner sign. You can show this photo to some Committee members and also to anybody whom, as you believe, it may be useful. Say to all ignoramuses which try to substitute their self-interested and ill-intentioned explanations of the sense of this picture. What may be more ancient and more genuine than Byzantine conception which stretches in the depth of centuries to the origin united Christianity and so beautifully implemented in Rublev’s icon “Saint life-giving Trinity” from the Holy Trinity-St. Sergius Lavra ? Just this symbol – the symbol of ancient Christianity, consecrated for us by name of St. Sergius, gives me a hint to our sign. Its sense is expressed on the proposed photo with conservation of all elements and their positions according to the Rublev’s icon. Let this photo will be with You at Paris in the case of any new attempts to destroy already existing. In addition, I send You a photo of St. Queen of the Banner – Madonna Oriflamma”. (From the letter of N.K.Roerich to baron M.Taube, 13.02.1932.)

N.K. Roerich has adduced the following illustrations of presence of the Banner of Peace components in the pictures and icons of great spiritual devotees from various religions:

“Our post from various countries today brings us much news about the propagation of our Pact for protection of cultural values. We have received a copy of an ancient icon of St Nicholas the Miracle-Worker <…>, which is confirmed to printing by metropolitan Antony. From other regions we have received a photo of an edition of Kiev-Pecherskaya Laura press from 1860 of the service to Venerable Sergius of Radonezh, the Miracle-Worker. From Spain we have received a picture of St. Domingo from “Silos” (archaeological museum, Madrid). Also from Spain we have received a picture of St. Michael made by Bartolommeo Vermekho (1440). At all these pictures the sign of Banner of Peace can be seen. It is useful to remember this for many”.[3]
“The sign of the Banner was also found at the Temple of Heaven. "Tamga" of Tamerlane consists of the same sign. The sign of Three Treasures is well known for many countries of the East. On the chest of Tibetan women one can see a large fibula which is the sign. The same fibulas we see also in Caucasian findings and in Scandinavia. Madonna of Strasbourg has the same sign as well as the Spanish Saints. The same sign is on the icons of St. Sergius and St. Nicholas Miracle-Worker. The sign as a large breast fibula is depicted on Christ’s breast on the well-known H. Memling’s picture. When we go over sacramental pictures of Byzantine, Roma, the same symbol ties the sacramental pictures on over the world”.[4]

Conditions of using of the Banner of Peace sign

The monuments and institutions, on which the Banner of Peace sign is proposed to establish, must be included by National governments in the special list.

ARTICLE IV

The signatory Governments and those which accede to this treaty, shall send to the Pan American Union, at the time of signature or accession, or at any time thereafter, a list of the monuments and institutions for which they desire the protection agreed to in this treaty. The Pan American Union, when notifying the Governments of signatures or accessions, shall also send the list of monuments and institutions mentioned in this article, and shall inform the other Governments of any changes in said list.

ARTICLE V

The monuments and institutions mentioned in article I shall cease to enjoy the privileges recognized in the present treaty in case they are made use of for military purposes.

The author of the sign Nicholas Roerich wrote about these conditions:

“Institutions, collections and missions, registered under Roerich Pact, exhibit a distinctive flag which gives them the right to special protection and respect from belligerent countries and peoples of all countries participating in the treaty”

It is seen from above words that in order to get the right for exhibition of the distinctive banner one must be registered by Pact bodies. The same standing exists concerning a distinctive banner of Red Cross (which also created on the basis of ancient symbol – cross).

Important cultural events with the Banner of Peace

In 1990, cosmonauts A.N. Balandin and A.Ya. Solovyov have performed a space flight on orbital station “Mir” with the Banner of Peace on board. This flight lasted from February to August including 9 days in open cosmos. The space station has made 144 loops around the Earth.

In 1997, an International scientific, enlighten and cosmic project “Banner of Peace” has been conducted. The aim of this action is to call all the peoples to cooperate under the Banner of Culture in the name of protection of life and beauty on the Earth. Many international crews worked with the Banner of Peace on the board of orbital station “Mir”. A participant of the Project cosmonaut Paul Vinogradov said:

“We have raised the banner of Peace over the Earth in order that a space of Culture excludes the space of war and animosity forever. We call all the peoples and nations to building of new spiritual, scientific and artistic cooperation”.[5]

After the finishing of the Project and returning from the orbit the Banner of Peace has been passed to International Centre of the Roerichs. Now it is exhibited there.

On January 5, 1999 the Banner of Peace has been presented to President of Kazakh Republic N.A. Nazarbayev. Space pilot A.A. Leonov and professor S.P. Kapitsa participate in the ceremony which has been conducted in President Palace of Almaty.[6]

Alpinists have lifted the Banner of Peace over many mountain peaks. Among them are the following:

- Elbrus;[7]
- Belukha, Roerich peak, Urusvati peak, Svetoslav Roerich peak (Altai);[7]
- Khan-Tengri (Middle Asia) ;
- Everest (Himalayas)

In 1988, for the first time a famous traveler Fyodor Khonyukhov established the Banner of Peace at Northern Pole.

In 1999, participants of the first International complex Antarctic expedition “Towards to XXI” have established the Banner of Peace at Southern Pole. Now, the Banners from these expeditions are exhibited in International Centre of the Roerichs.[5]

In October, 2004 during celebration of S.N.Roerich’s 100-th anniversary, the Banner of Peace which has been at cosmos was presented to the Indian Parliament. Taking the Banner, Speaker S. Chatterji said:

“… It will be kept in the library of Indian Parliament as most precious treasure”.[8]

N.K.Roerich’s papers dedicated to the sign of Banner of Peace

  • The Banner (February 6, 1932)
  • The Banner (April 15, 1935)
  • The Banner of Peace (May 24, 1939)
  • The Banner of Peace (October 25, 1945)
  • Our Banner (February 15, 1946)
  • To friends of Banner of Peace (June 1, 1947)

References

Notes

1.- The Roerich Pact and Banner of Peace (Aims and History).
2.- a b Banner of Peace. Collected articles. – Moscow, International Centre of the Roerichs. – 1995. – P.105.
3.- Roerich N.K. Diary pages. V.1. “Half century”.
4.- Roerich N.K. Diary pages. V.1. “The signs”.
5.-a b [| Website of the International Center of the Roerichs].
6.- Museum named after N.K.Roerich. Museum guide. – Moscow, International Centre of the Roerichs, Master-Bank, 2006. – 429 p.
7.- a b Presentation of Banner of Peace to President of Kazakh Republic N.A.Nazarbayev. (shorthand record). / Journal “New Epoch. Problems. Searches. Studies” N 2(21), 1999.
8. 10.- Martovitskaya M. Banner of Peace on the earth, in mountains and at the orbit” / Newspaper “Culture”, N 14, April 14–20, 2005.


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