Unlike heraldry, vexillology is a relatively young science (the term itself was not coined until 1959), this being so despite the fact that its object of study – the flag – has been in existence since time immemorial. Depictions made of metal or wood, with a measure of plasticity, were the forerunners of modern flags of Europe and the Middle East, whilst multicoloured mantles were common in the Orient. Today, the weighty symbolic function of flags is carried by colours and combinations thereof, with the rectangular being the most favoured shape.

Furthermore, if the functions of a coat-of-arms are predominantly linked to the legal concepts of freedom, property, and identity, then a flag signals a call to assembly (or some other military activity), and most august presence, acquiring during its historical development an association with power and authority, but most of all with affiliation.

The multiplicity of flag’s forms and functions can further be evidenced from the multitude of accepted terms appropriate to various occasions: flag, standard, gonfalon, pennant, jack, as well as the additional designations of national, military, signal.

Amongst Bulgarians, quite apart from the written and visual historical evidence relating to the presence of flags, it is an interesting fact that as a ubiquitous attribute in traditional culture there exists the so-called wedding flag. Accepted in academic discourse the above-mentioned terminology may be, the words styag, pryaporets, horugva, bayrak have also become accepted, and used, in Bulgarian speech.