The Jolly Roger, also known as a Pirate Flag is the traditional flag of European and Caribbean pirates, envisioned today as a skull over crossed thigh bones on a black field. Various versions of the jolly roger existed over the course of the centuries; for example, Calico Jack's jolly roger replaced the thigh bones with swords (cutlasses).
There are three possible theorized origins that have come to be accepted by experts:
- Some say it comes from the French term "jolie rouge" or "lovely red" possibly referring to blood.
- "Roger" may have come from the word "rogue" meaning thief or villain.
- It may have come from the term "old Roger" an old fashioned name for the Devil.
The jolly roger is hugely recognized to mean "danger" worldwide. The skull and crossbones themselves are commonly used on to warn people about dangerous substances or places on signs and bottles.
One Piece SeriesEdit
In One Piece, there are many jolly roger flags. Jolly rogers generally help pirates determine who belongs to whose crew, or even who is a pirate in the first place. Many choose to bear their crew's flag somewhere on their personal being (such as Portgas D. Ace). Certain nations who understand the ideals of the jolly roger, or have turned against ideas of the World Government, also raise the flag, such as the emancipated Drum Kingdom after the fall of Wapol.
However, raising the jolly roger is considered a huge crime by the Marines, and anyone seen doing so (may it be fun or for real) will be considered criminals. The designs of the jolly roger usually reflect the interest of the captain of the crew. Other times it may be physical resemblance (Whitebeard's mustache or Shanks's three scars on one eye), a personal item they wear (Luffy's straw hat), or the symbols behind them.
Ideals of the FlagEdit
All those that sail under a jolly roger are supposed to show respect for their chosen flag and honor it always as it represents the crew itself. Once the flag is gone, the crew can no longer sail under it and therefore everything linked with the flag is gone. Luffy uses this in making his choice in the Davy Back Fight and takes the jolly roger belonging to Foxy instead of a member of the crew, thus preventing anyone from ever sailing under it again. He then gives them a new one that he drew (badly) himself.
Following the introduction of Donquixote Doflamingo, a different type of jolly roger has appeared. Rather than the traditional skull and crossbones, the flag is a smiley of a grinning person. The significance of this type of jolly roger has yet to be revealed. In some cases, such as Doflamingo's flag and the Human Auctioning House, the smiley has a line painted over it.
While some of the smiling jolly rogers are connected to Doflamingo, another smiley has been seen on Whitebeard's life support equipment. Ace also wore two smileys on his hat, one sad and the other happy. Kid's secondary jolly roger is a smiley style with a stitched-up mouth. The Heart Pirates also have a smiley style Jolly Roger, only this one has 6 branches extending outwards in all directions.
Personal Jolly RogersEdit
A few characters sport their own personal jolly roger. The reasons for that differ, as do the sources of the flags.