Saturday 6 February 2021

Flag of Widewuto

Flag of the mythical first Prussian king Widewuto. Originally from the tribe of Cimbri, he came to Prussia from Jutland in the 6th century AD, brought culture and agriculture and named Prussia after his older brother Bruteno, who became the high priest...

The flag was drawn in the 16th century by a historian and cartographer Caspar Hennenberger after a description by Simon Grunau, who was the author of Preussische Chronik, the first comprehensive history of Prussia...

Allegedly, it depicted three Prussian gods: 

Peckols, god of the underworld, old man with white hair and long beard 

Perk┼źnas, god of thunder, middle-aged man with fiery hair and short beard

Patrimpas, god of sea, earth, and crops, beardless young man with a wreath of grain.

The flag also displayed mysterious symbols, which no one have so far been able to decipher. I will leave deciphering of the inscription to others. What I would like to try, is to uncover the true identity of the three "Prussian gods"

There is something interesting about this flag which leads me to believe that the characters depicted on it were not originally three Prussian gods: Peckols, Perkunas and Patrimpas.

The three characters are clearly deliberately depicted in three distinct stages of a man's life: a young man, a man in full strength, an old man. This in no way corresponds with the roles of the three Prussian gods.

The three characters are clearly deliberately depicted in three distinct colours: a young man - green, a man in full strength - yellow, an old man - red. This in no way corresponds with the roles of the three Prussian gods.

The three characters are clearly deliberately depicted with a specific "headgear": a young man - wreath of green leaves, not wreath of grain; a man in full strength - burning flames; an old man - white turban. This in no way corresponds with the roles of the three Prussian gods.

But these three characters correspond to the three ages of the the sun:

Young beardless youth, dressed in green, with green leaves wreath on his head - spring sun

Man in full strength with short red beard, dressed in yellow, with burning fire on his head - summer sun

Old man with long white beard dressed in red, with white turban - autumn

I don't know if such personifications of the three ages of sun, three seasons exist in Prussian mythology. They certainly do exist in Slavic mythology:

Jarilo - young spring sun, the green man, celebrated on the last day of spring, the first day of summer, beginning of May

Svetovid - mature summer sun, the yellow man, celebrated on the mid day of summer, summer solstice

Ilija (Elijah) - old autumn sun, the red man, celebrated on the last day of summer, first day of autumn, beginning of August

The young sun represents fertility and turning nature green.

The mature sun represents ripening and turns nature yellow.

The old sun represents withering and dying and turn nature red and then white.

I don't know what to think about all this. Historians now think that the legends about the first king of Prussians, Widewuto, were an invention of Prussian nationalists in the middle of religious and national strife. What about this flag then?

The symbolism of this group of characters is too complex to be just made up by someone who didn't know what they were doing...So what was this flag inspired by?

Something just occurred to me. Cimbri, the tribe of the first Prussian king Widewuto, were by some believed to be of Celtic origin. And in Celtic calendar the year is divided into two parts, the white part, dominated by the sun, and the dark part dominated by the earth...

Start of the white half: 1st of May, the end of spring, start of summer. Green day. Middle of the white half: 1st of Aug, the end of summer, start of autumn. Yellow day. End of the white half of the year: 1st of Nov, end of autumn, start of winter, white day...

This now corresponds with the roles of the three "Prussian gods": 

Green young man (foliage) - flourishing vegetation of early white half

Yellow mature man (fire) - heat and thunderstorms of mid white half

Red old man (snow) - withering and death of late white half

That would make the legend about the king who came from the tribe of Cimbri carrying this flag a bit more believable...


  1. Hello,

    I point out waht I find a stricking coincidence.
    In the north east of Italiy, according to the tradition and roman historians, the population of the highland of Asiago (Vicenza's province) descends from the Cimbri invaders coming from Jutland, who where running from the roman armies after being defeated. Some of them establihed in the highlands. Proving that this tradition might have some historical root, there are some interesting toponyms in the region (where also bavarian immigrants settle few centuries thereafter). The more strucking are: Skada, Thor-elle, Freyentaal, Freyjoch, Hodegart (still many others).

    All this considered, I finally point out the most "imaginative" coincidence which struck me reading the post. Here it is the flag of the highlanders of Asiago:

    Three "senior" faces (plus four young faces) which have three distinc colors: red, yellow and blu (which can be associated to the green). THe flag really remindend me Windewuto's. Also, such a emblem is really peculiar and I can't attest any similar motive in the area.
    The seven faces represents the seven communes of the Highland, though it is very similar in its design to Windewuto's flag. Also, the flag of the highland of Asiago is pretty old, at leats waving since the XIV century.

    Hope that's interesting, best regards.

  2. Prussian name is Balto-Slavic derived from PIE and has ambiguous connotations around river residues, fire and stones. Is no Cymbrian export. Cited Bruteno is simply a distant stem cognate with overlapping meanings out of shared PIE and so the theory is fishy. As you can imagine a Cymbrian would try to impose his culture and I don't see it in Baltic fabric such foreign rule. Celtics began to leave traces in the Bronze Era already as trademen and so again the theory is bollocs.
    These symbolic colors including black were common in whole northern Eurasia. Somehow Baltics picked those three. Baltic tribes split away from the Indo-European stem to live basically in a cultural enclave of Northern HG and IE husbadry cultures from Siberia to central Europe.
    Local paraSemitic HGs had basically similar color language, if you like, only with black and white as major symbolic.
    Obviously the climate was the reason for Baltics to stressing these aspects of seasonal colors of their tricolore.