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Visual Quick reminder about chevron orientation

Discussion in 'Wishlist' started by Mercurio, Oct 2, 2015.

  1. Mercurio

    Mercurio Member

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    Something I've noticed is that chevrons (e.g. used for non-commissioned ranks) point upward for military, naval, & air force services and downwards for civilian services such as police.

    I've heard tell that it's to do with symbolically distinguishing between "masculine" community service roles (daggers) and feminine community service roles (cups).

    While I am confident of the observation, I'm not confident of the explanation as I'm yet to trace it back to primary sources. So if anyone wants to elaborate or suggest some primary sources of commentary for this little cultural bugaboo, I'd find it interesting reading. :^)

    I mention this because getting the chevrons the wrong way up seems to be a fairly common mistake in texture design for computer games.
  2. Granny Rowan

    Granny Rowan Active Member

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    Actually since most games are not based on planet earth, or even have direct descendants of that planet, then the fantasy folk that live there may have their own conventions. Hell the stripes may be standard chevrons pointed up, down, left or right, or rings like a ships officer, (straight or wavy). Even those planets populated by descendants from Earth may have evolved their own system, not least to show they are not bound to the old traditions. Trying to compare the decisions of a game design team for a fantasy environment is therefore a fruitless task imo.

    However to follow your point in regard to stripes..
    Insignia for rank includes far more than stripes, and the stripes themselves may be plain or bi-coloured to denote rank or sub-rank ie difference between Lt or sub-Lt, WO1 and WO2. Stripes may be worn on upper or lower arm depending on the specific nation or even service.
    Many ranks don't use stripes on the arm at all, but epaulettes, collar studs etc. and insignia vary from country to country so tbh there is no single rule as regards display. Some countries complicate this further by adding an additional stripe or flash for seniority or service.

    The direction the chevrons point may vary between civilian and military in some countries, but also simply vary in the military from nation to nation.
    For instance Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) a Sergeants stripes point up but in English police forces they point down.
    If you look at images of U.S. Army uniforms in the Civil War era, the chevrons for the ranks of private, corporal and sergeant are clearly point-down, like the current British Army's chevrons yet today they point up. I am not sure of the why or when of this changed but it would appear to have happened pre WW1.

    When police forces were invented they were purely male, female officers in both the military and the civilian forces are comparatively new, so I very much doubt therefore that the explanation re daggers and cups is anything more than an urban myth.
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  3. Haruto Rat

    Haruto Rat Active Member

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    There's no system to that even within NATO, much less globally.

    I'm not an expert in military history but it might well be that chevrons as insignia originated in Ottoman Turkey (to this day, a zigzag pattern is referred to as 'ottoman chevrons') and were brought to Europe by Napoleon, initially representing length of service.
    • Informative Informative x 1
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2015