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Other Balkan states followed the Byzantine model as well: chiefly the Serbians, but also the Bulgarians and Albania under George Kastrioti (better known as Skanderbeg), while after 1472 the eagle was adopted by Muscovy and then Russia.
During the Palaiologan period, the insigne of the reigning dynasty, and the closest thing to a Byzantine "national flag" (Soloviev), was the so-called "tetragrammatic cross", a gold or silver cross with four letters beta "B" (often interpreted as firesteels) of the same colour in each corner.
It was placed on the walls of Galata, apparently as a sign of the Byzantine emperor's—largely theoretical—suzerainty over the Genoese colony.
Along with the double-headed eagle, the tetragrammic cross was also adopted as part of their family coat of arms by the cadet line of the Palaiologos dynasty ruling in Montferrat.
The double-headed eagle was used in the breakaway Empire of Trebizond as well, being attested imperial clothes but also on flags.
Indeed, Western portolans of the 14th–15th centuries use the double-headed eagle (silver/golden on red/vermilion) as the symbol of Trebizond rather than Constantinople.
Single-headed eagles are also attested in Trapezuntine coins, and a 1421 source depicts the Trapezuntine flag as yellow with a red single-headed eagle.
Apparently, just as in the metropolitan Byzantine state, the use of both motifs continued side by side.
Since the 6th century, crosses with quartered letters are known, especially from coinage, forming the acronyms of various invocations, e.g.
Far more common, both in seals and in decorations, was the use of cyphers or monograms (sing.
συμπίλημα, sympilēma), with the letters of the owner's personal or family name arranged around a cross.
Svoronos himself proposed three alternate readings: Relief at the Castle of Mytilene, showing the family cypher of the Palaiologoi (left), the Byzantine double-headed eagle (centre) with the Gattilusi coat of arms on its breast, and the eagle of the Doria family (right) Only from the 12th century onwards, when the Empire came in increased contact with Westerners because of the Crusades, did heraldry begin to be used among Byzantines.
Even then however, the thematology was largely derived from the symbols employed in earlier ages, and its use was limited to the major families of the Empire.
It is not of Byzantine invention, but a traditional Anatolian motif dating to Hittite times, and the Byzantines themselves only used it in the last centuries of the Empire.