The Mysterious Flag of Sardinia

I have a fascination with flags. This is not because I am Canadian and wear my flag with pride on my backpack, hat, t-shirt, underwear and socks but I find them truly and utterly beautiful. They flap effortlessly in the wind and they represent their country with amazing pride.

When I first moved to Sardinia 4.5 years ago and noticed the flag of Sardinia floating angelic like against the blue sky, I was shocked. Why shocked? Well, because of the four heads blindfolded. I silently pondered the meaning behind this odd flag and vowed to find out more.

I asked my husband what the flag represents and he told me some fable about four Africans taken into the mountains and shot. This can’t be true. I allowed my Italian language skills to improve over the years and asked the same questions to the same people, no one seemed to know what the flag stands for. I can understand the confusion of the locals as the flag over the years has changed without notice and without explanation adding only increased mystery and confusion.

Over the centuries the 4 Moors have changed at times they are looking left, other times right, sometimes blindfolded other times wearing headbands, eyes open, eyes closed, bareheaded and sometimes with a crown.

I was perplexed and curious. I would get to the bottom of this mystery.

The Four Moors Flag | Bandiera dei Quattro Mori

The original flag of Sardinia

File:Bandera nacionalista sarda.svgThe original flag of Sardinia showing the 4 Moors heads turned to the left and blindfolded.

The official flag of Sardinia | 1999 – present day

The official flag of Sardinia. 1999 – present day. 4 Moors looking right with headbands.

The flag consists of a plain white background, St. Georges Cross and a moor’s head in each quarter.

Some sources (who? I have no idea) state that the flag is of Spanish origin representing four Moorish invaders blindfolded for execution. However, the  Sardinian Autonomous Region states that the emblem dates back to 1281, and can be seen on a seal of the Royal Chancellery of Peter the Great of Aragon.

It wasn’t until the 14th century when the Kingdom of Sardinia became part of the Confederation of the Crown of Aragon, that the Four Moors became associated with Sardinia.

It was not until the 18th century that the arrangement of the heads was fixed, with the Moors facing left and being blindfolded. On July 2, 1952, by decree the emblem became the official symbol of the region, and on April 15, 1999, the official flag, but this time with the Moors facing right, wearing headbands, and with their eyes open.”

4 Moors’ beach towel with heads facing left and blindfolded.

Beach vendors continue to sell Sardinian souvenirs like beach towels, umbrellas, t-shirts and cooler bags with the 4 Moors’ heads facing left or right, blindfolded or not. Why? I don’t have the answer.

Sardinian beach umbrella with 4 Moors’ heads facing right.

Confused? Yes, so am I.

Source: Wikipedia – The Flag of Sardinia
Source: To My Sardinia – has a fantastic article on the 4 Moors.

Do you know the real story behind the 4 Moors? Please tell me below.

8 thoughts on “The Mysterious Flag of Sardinia

  1. It was a warning to the Moors that they better not come on that Island and start messing around or this is what would happen to them; they would be executed. I don’t know the history, but that is what I would think if I was a Moor visiting the island. It wouldn’t feel like a welcome, that is for sure.

  2. The cross of St George is actually the flag of Genoa. The story is that because of piracy the English asked if they could use the flag on their boats to deter pirates as the Genoan navy was very powerful at the time. In fact the Genoa claims it is still owed money for use of the flag. It is funny to think that die hard nationalists who boastfully parade the “English” flag are totally aware of the Genoan origin.

  3. Pingback: Sardinia, with love

  4. I noticed that the Corsican flag is the same Maure’s head. Just the 1 head though but the same design otherwise. Not surprising when you think of all the ties & common grounds between the 2 islands. Thanks again for an interesting article…

  5. Hey Jennifer!!

    Just stumbled on your blog!

    As Sardinian, I wondered the same ’bout the flag… and couldn’t get why it changed!!!
    Well, I once heard that the flag is from the Spanish invasion and that the blindfolded Four Moors are from the old Kingdom of Sardinia: they got blindfolded cuz ashamed of submission by the Kingdom. After many years, someone (guess the region :S) decided to change the flag to represent freedom from the Kingdom, facing the Moors right and having the bands on their forehead.

    I don’t know if this is right but it’s a nice story! lol
    Though, few years ago someone told me…. the original flag is now back as the official flag!!!!!!

    ….whatever… 🙂

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