The Banner of Peace was designed by Russian artist Nicholas Roerich (1874 — 47) to be a universally accepted marker to protect sites of cultural, artistic, and historical value from combatant forces during times of conflict in a manner similar to the neutrality expressed in the flag of the Red Cross.
The symbol, according to Roerich, was inspired by similar emblems depicted on a number of sources, including stone-age amulets, Byzantine icons, and Tibetan Buddhist iconography. Roerich believed it to be an ancient visual form embedded in a collective consciousness that continually resurfaced throughout human history.1
Although Roerich suggested a direct link between his design and visually similar marks found on a variety of ancient objects there is no evidence these historical symbols carried a meaning similar to his design. That similar designs are seen in many cultures are most likely the result of the simplicity of the form and the symbolism assigned to the number three in many spiritual traditions.2
The symbol is often depicted with the text ‘Pax Cultura’, a Latin motto adopted by Roerich meaning ‘Cultural Peace’; a clear reference to the period of relative peace within the Roman Empire known as the Pax Romana. However, use of the term Pax in more recent times, Pax Americana for example, has come to be understood as meaning an uneasy hegemonic peace.3 A connotation not intended by Roerich.