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Algeria: "Barbary" ensign with the "Berber's head"

Last modified: 2013-12-12 by ivan sache
Keywords: barbary coast | regency of algiers | head |
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[barbary ensign]

"Barbary" ensign - Image by Jaume Ollé, 14 December 2001

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"Barbary" ensign

Crampton [cra90] shows this flag captioned "a pirate flag from the Barbary Coast as shown on an eighteenth-century flag chart".
This text seems to indicate some doubts on the veracity or accuracy of this image, Anyway, it is hard to concile such a design with the known Muslim reluctance in the representation of the human figure.

Jorge Candeias, 15 March 1999

Together with the Ottoman flag, some Algerine ships used the so-called Barbary ensign, reproduced in numerous 18th-19th century plates, with small variations in style but coinciding with the general idea of a corsair's head in the canton of a red flag. This type of flag, occasionally with a crescent moon, seems to have been used by particular individuals involved in piracy (who perhaps came to possess various ships), without having any official status. The same use was given to the skull and crossbones flag typical of pirates.

Jaume Ollé, translated by Joe McMillan & Santiago Dotor, 14 December 2001

Miscellaneous reports of the flag

 [Another Barbary ensign]         [Another Barbary ensign]

"Barbary" ensign as shown by Steenbergen - Image by Jaume Ollé, 14 December 2001

Steenbergen (1860s) mentions two very similar flags (#28 & 77) in which the white corsair's head is situated in the central part of the flag.

Jaume Ollé, translated by Joe McMillan, 14 December 2001

[Another Barbary ensign]         [Another Barbary ensign]

"Barbary" ensign, as reported by Dubreil (left) and Lucien Philippe (right) - Images by Jaume Ollé & Ivan Sache, 14 December 2001