2. A regular division of cavalry; also, a company of veterans of a legion: One vexillation of the old infantrymen wore the bright colors of their regiment when they marched in the military parade.
While the earliest flags were vexilloids, the emblem at the top of the staff varied. It might have been the tail of a tiger, a metal vane, a ribbon, a carved animal, a windsock of woven grasses or crude cloth, or a construction combining more than one material.
Since kinship, real or imagined, constituted the principal organizing technique of primitive societies, very frequently the animal, from which the clan claimed descent and for which it was named as the chief symbol of the vexilloid.
The people who carried the totem believed they derived their powers from it; hence, "vexilloids acquired a religious significance which they have never lost".
Like Roman religion, these vexilloids were not jealous or exclusivistic because official recognition was given in the Roman pantheon to the totemic vexilloids of barbarian troops serving in the Roman army.
It was a matter of great surprise to the Romans when the monotheistic Jews rioted in ca. 26 A.D. upon the introduction of the sacred Roman vexilloids into the Temple on order of Pilate.