The story behind the famous „Croatian chessboard“

Croatian coat of arms is maybe not very recognizable at the first glimpse, but if you recall watching a soccer match with the national team, for instance, you’ll remember how their sports apparel stands out.
The checkered pattern honestly does look unique but where does it come from?

National flag of Croatia, photo by Matko M. Švarc
The national flag of Croatia, photo by Matko M. Švarc

There are some proofs that Croatians took the chessboard pattern from former Persia since there are strong indications this is where Croatian people originate from. Various pottery was found in these areas containing the pattern and so were the walls similarly decorated
Another story takes us to the era of the Croatian Kingdom when King Držislav was playing chess with the Venetian doge who held him captive. Držislav won the game which gained freedom not only for him but for all the Croatian cities along the Adriatic coast and that led King Držislav to implement the checkered pattern into the national coat of arms.
The coat of arms with the „Croatian chessboard“ exists to this day as a part of the national flag and with the addition of a shield crown on top of it in which every shield represents a particular region besides Croatia itself (The Republic of Dubrovnik, Dalmatia, Istria and Slavonia).
The pattern was present on Croatian national symbols throughout history with minor changes regarding the design of the flag and the coat of arms and those we have today are the work of an academic pop art artist Miroslav Šutej.

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