Aug 8, 2017

Cozumel, One Circle, Three Red Dots

Where there is peace there is culture,
where there is culture there is peace.

Elena Roerich

Madonna Oriflamma by Nikolái Roerich 1932 
Original Painting
In July 2009, Cozumel was declared The Island of Peace by the International Committee for the Banner of Peace, a non-governmental organization affiliated with the UN (and UNESCO) because it has no record of warlike or military conflict since the ancient Maya. A first such honor given to an island.  Through this award, Cozumel joins the ranks of recipients like famed Dalai Lama.

Dalai Lama receiving the Banner of Peace
Nicknamed the Red Cross of Art and Culture (comparing it to its medical neutrality), Pax Cultura (cultural peace or peace through culture has been the dream child of Nikolái Roerich (1874-1947) a Latvian ancestry Russian.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt at signing of Roerich Pact

The Treaty on the Protection of Artistic and Scientific Institutions and Historic Monuments or Roerich Pact was first an inter-American treaty. The most important idea of the Roerich Pact was the legal recognition that the defense of cultural objects is more important than the use or destruction of that culture for military purposes, and the protection of culture always has precedence over any military necessity.  It was the first international treaty signed in the Oval Office on April 15th, 1935 by the US and twenty Latin American countries.  It served as an emblem for the desire of human culture to rise above war.  Today, many more countries have signed the pact.  The Banner of Peace has been flown globally since the 1930’s and it is now found in over 3,000 locations from space station to North Pole.

Origin / symbolism of the flag

The world peace flag is based on a design by Russian artist and mystic Nikolái Roerich, who proposed the red circle with three dots inside as an international symbol to mark museums, schools, and similar cultural landmarks to prevent destruction by aerial bombs (World War I era). The idea was similar to the large red cross marking hospitals and medical tents in war zones ... similarly to "prevent" bombing and strafing of helpless patients and medical personnel. William Dunning, 17 March 1998

Various interpretations to the meanings of the symbol:

  • The International Banner of Peace has three dots representing the past, present and future enclosed in a red circle representing infinity of time. Alexei Arkhipov, The Moscow Times, 25 March 1998
  • Roerich described the circle as representing the totality of culture, with the three dots being Art, Science, and Religion, three of the most embracing of human cultural activities.  Circle of culture and thoughts. 
  • The banner is a deep red or magenta color to symbolize the color of our one blood, which is the same for all peoples. The top circle represents spirituality and encompasses the truth of all religions, that we can all unite regardless of our distinct beliefs. The two circles on the bottom represent art and science. The circle that surrounds the three spheres represents culture, the unity of art, science, and spirituality.
  • The first sphere stands for the concept that kindness, respect and love of all people should reign. The second sphere represents our words, freed from destructive criticism, negativity, lies and aggression — which all generate physical and mental diseases. The third sphere is our actions. If ideas and words are pure, then actions will be harmonious and beautiful, thus all people will be blessed. 
  • The shade of red used in this flag is slightly darker than usual. This is not a mistake. Every instance shows a darker shade of red.  Mark of blood and truth.  A.H., 29 November 1999
Side note:  The one-over-two-dots symbol (no ring) is usually used in cartography to denote important historical remains, this may be connected to the Roerich flag.  António Martins, 30 November 1999.

Given to Cozumel, July 2009, local archives
Dr. Alicia Rodriguez President of International Banner of Peace Committee
Banner of Peace for Zamná.  Local archives
Trimarán Zamná

Trimarán Zamná to take the Banner of Peace around the World


Traveling under the banner “The Child, the Sea, Peace and Cozumel,” the ship seeks to deliver a message of universal peace, brotherhood and acceptance to the world. The Trimarán Zamná, whose name means Father of the Gods in Maya is a unique handcraft wooden master piece of 100 feet long and three masts, and was built by a team of 40 Mexican ship makers in Veracruz and commanded by Captain Vital Alsar an experienced and skilled sailor, from a fishermen family.

Fourteen types of woods were used to make it and it features windows stylized after the shape of the windows found in Chichén Itza, whose pyramid was also replicated with the ship’s lights. The word Peace is written in 24 languages on its sails.

Traveling aboard the vessel, will be a 12-year-old Maya child named Tony Angulo who has been named Ambassador of Peace by the Island of Cozumel. 

Captain Vital Alsar (76 years old)
At harbor in New York
One of Zamná’s outriggers on Cozumel.  Small historical proof.
Route Zamná has taken from August 2009 to January 2010
Link between the Americas and the Mediterranean
Today – submerged somewhere near Progreso, Yucatán – Such sad waste
Written with the assistance of international experts and lawyers, the Banner of Peace was praised by many notable figures during its signing including Albert Einstein, George Bernard Shaw, and Herbert George Wells.  Roerich also met with Gandhi who thought highly of him.

1954 – UN / UNESCO Conference in The Hague accepted the “Convention for protection of cultural values in the case of armed conflicts” and a protocol accompanying it. The Second protocol to The Hague convention was accepted in March 1999 due to initiative and close participation of UNESCO. A text of The Hague convention pointed directly on that the base for it acceptance is a principle of cultural values protection during the war established at Hague peace conventions in 1899 and 1907 and in the Roerich Pact. This Hague convention was signed by representatives from 37 countries.

Roerich’s fundamental idea about Peace through Culture found its way into The Preamble to the Constitution of UNESCO and several UNESCO’s international legal instruments. 

Peace through Culture is the creation of new consciousness and thinking and thus, new relations between people and nations which are based predominantly on Culture and cooperation – not on seizure, domination through money, technology or weapons.

Roerich Pact and Banner of Peace now an NGO of United Nations – A little More Information

Nicholas Roerich was involved throughout his career with the problems of cultural preservation.  From an early age, when, as a teenage amateur archeologist in the north of Russia, he unearthed rare and beautiful ancient artifacts, he realized that the best products of humanity's creative genius were almost always neglected, or even destroyed, by humanity itself.

In the earliest years of twentieth century, he traveled through the historic towns of Northern Russia, making paintings of their crumbling walls and deteriorating architecture. He then made appeals to the Russian government for efforts to maintain and restore these priceless links to the past.

Later it was the devastations of the first World War and the Russian revolution that spurred his own efforts. He came to realize that the cultural heritage of each nation is in essence a world treasure. And his idea of cultural heritage broadened to include more than just the physical remains of earlier cultures—the buildings and art, for example—but also the creative activities, the universities, the libraries, the concert halls and theaters. All must be protected from the ravages of war and neglect, for without them life would be nothing but a rude and ignorant time on earth.

It became clear to Roerich that an international effort was required. During the nineteen-twenties, he composed a treaty with the assistance of international legal experts. This treaty came to be known as The Roerich Pact.
The Banner of Peace symbol has ancient origins. Perhaps its earliest known example appears on Stone Age amulets: three dots, without the enclosing circle. Roerich came across numerous later examples in various parts of the world, and knew that it represented a deep and sophisticated understanding of the triune nature of existence.

The year 2005 marks the seventieth anniversary of the signing of the Roerich Pact. The history of international treaties shows us how many of them were relevant and applicable to the times in which they were signed, but then lapsed into irrelevance. The Roerich Pact, however, has kept its heart and its life, and is linked to the needs of today’s chaotic world as much as ever. In so many countries we see a deterioration of cultural values and a disregard for the right of all cultural treasures to have their own continued existence, forever protected and unimpeded. We see destruction of life, property, and the inheritance of the creative genius of the nations. One can only hope that a greater awareness of the importance of humanity’s cultural heritage will increase, rather than deteriorate. There is no greater value to a nation than its culture.

If all people of the Earth would embrace Roerich’s far-sighted vision of the Banner of Peace, it would quickly improve our consciousness, and the importance of the modern horrors of world terrorism, epidemics of unprecedented diseases, disasters and other troubles would diminish.

Unfortunately, few if any know about this Pact today – we have not seen this banner anywhere on the island so far, only part of the boat that carried its message across the Atlantic in 2009-2010.  Although a great idea, I am not sure if it has any impact in today’s world.  Much like the now sunk Trimarán Zamná, it seems to live below the surface.  Cozumel may not see warlike activities but the locals are being taken advantage by oblivious and rampant tourism.  Mere words or wishful thinking?  Bottom line is that I don’t see much difference in Cozumel than in any other tourism-based economy with or without the impressive sounding Banner of Peace. 

Version in Spanish speaking countries

A partner of Banner of Peace, Cozumel was awarded this honor in 2010.
Also called Pax Urbis Award.  Citing the island’s efforts at promoting peace and tolerance.
“The local people have a very special feeling to be nice to others, it’s in their DNA.”

100 Cities for Peace” is a social and civic movement without political side or economic interest.  The movement proposes to work on issues such as respect between cultures, removal of violence, promotion of the dignity of life, eradication of abject poverty, and to boost the full development of the human being, focusing on the education.

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