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Coat of Arms of the Republic of Macedonia
Coat of arms of the Republic of Macedonia.svg
Coat of arms of the Republic of Macedonia 1991-2009.svg
Coat of arms of the Republic of Macedonia (1991-2009)
Coat of arms of Macedonia.svg
Coat of arms of the Socialist Republic of Macedonia (1946-1991) and Coat of arms of the Republic of Macedonia (1991-2007), recommended by the Macedonian Heraldry Association as the most official version. Stored at the World Intellectual Property Organisation on request by the Government of Macedonia.[1]
Adopted 1946-12-31 by the Constitution.[2] Modified on 2009-11-16.

The National Emblem of the Republic of Macedonia is composed of two curved garlands of sheaves of wheat, tobacco leaves and opium poppy fruits, tied by a ribbon decorated with embroidery of traditional Macedonian folk motifs. In the centre of the ovoid frame are depicted a mountain, a lake and a sunrise.[3] These devices are said to represent "the richness of our country, our struggle and our freedom".

The Macedonian parliament adopted the proposal to change the country’s coat of arms with 80 votes in favor and 18 against, removing the five-pointed star. The National Emblem was modified on 16 November 2009. The Macedonian coat of arms that included the red star has been in use since 1946, shortly after the country became part of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY). With the recent change, the coat of arms is composed of two curved garlands of wheat sheaves, tobacco leaves and opium poppy fruits, tied by a ribbon decorated with embroidery of traditional Macedonian folk motifs. A lake, a mountain, and a sunrise are depicted in the centre of the ovoid frame.

The whole composition and design is based upon the pattern of the emblem of the SFR Yugoslavia and does not have any roots in the historical heraldic coats of arms of Macedonia. Besides the emblem of Belarus the device of the Republic of Macedonia is one of the few remaining in Europe to still employ socialist imagery and stylistics.

The features of the national emblem contain a rising sun which symbolizes freedom, the Šar Mountains[4] with its peak named Ljuboten[4] or mount Korab[5] and the river Vardar,[4][5] with Lake Ohrid. The emblem also contains opium poppy fruits; this poppy was brought to Macedonia by the Ottoman Empire in the first half of XIX century.[6]


Relation to the 1946 National Emblem

Reconstruction of the 1946 emblem, after the Nova Makedonija newspapers dated 28 July 1946, by Jovan Jonovski (2005)

The current emblem is a supervised version of the one adopted on July 27, 1946 by the Assembly of the People's Republic of Macedonia. The original version of 1946 represented the Pirin Mountains which are part of the region of Macedonia in order to symbolize a future United Macedonia as part of a new Balkan Federation. The Emblem was created by Vasilije Popovic – Cico.[7] After Yugoslavia broke with the Soviet Union in 1948, the Soviet Union did not allow Bulgaria and Albania to form a Balkan Federation with Yugoslavia and the concept of a United Macedonia as part of such a federation was no more realistic.[8]

The symbolism of that device was described in the Nova Makedonija newspaper two days after its adoption as follows:

"The [emblem] of the People's Republic of Macedonia is a symbol of the freedom and the brotherhood of the Macedonian people and the richness of the Macedonian land. The five-pointed star symbolizes the National Liberation War through which the Macedonian people gained freedom. In the center, there is the Pirin mountain, the highest Macedonian mountain that has been the center of the National Liberation Wars in the past. The river displayed in the emblem is the river Vardar, the most famous Macedonian river in the republic. Pirin and Vardar at the same time symbolize the unity of all parts of Macedonia and the ideal of our people for national unity."[8]

The supervised version was constitutionally approved by the Constitution of the People's Republic of Macedonia from December 31, 1946.[2]

Historical coats of arms

The symbol of the golden lion on red ground first appeared as a symbol of "Macedonia" in armorial rolls of the late middle ages. The earliest known attestation is in the Fojnica Armory[9] from 1340, where it contains a 7-pointed crown and appears side by side with entries for Illyria, Bosnia, Dalmatia, Croatia, Slavonia, Serbia and Bulgaria. The Korenić-Neorić armory roll of 1595 included a 5- pointed crown. The Belgrade Museum of Contemporary Art displays a 1620 version of the symbol with 3-pointed crown, while the Berlin Library displays a 17th century version with the 5-pointed crown [10]. The use of the lion to represent Macedonia was continued in foreign heraldic collections throughout the 15th to 18th centuries[11][12]

Efforts to update the national emblem

The most popular proposal for a new coat of arms from 1992, by Miroslav Grčev

Such efforts have so far failed, due to political and national disputes over possible replacements. A proposal by architect and graphic designer Miroslav Grčev was put forward in 1992 to replace it with a revised version of the historical gold lion on a red shield. The Macedonian Heraldry Society considers that coat of arms to have been the best solution for a new state emblem.[13] However, this was rejected on three main grounds:

  • several political parties, notably VMRO-DPMNE, already use that emblem as their party symbols
  • the Albanian political parties of Macedonia considered the proposal to be only representative for the ethnic Macedonians, but not also for ethnic Albanians
  • the state coat of arms of Bulgaria features a lion similar to the Macedonian[14]

Because of these reasons, the political parties agreed to continue to use the current device until a solution is found. The emblem did not appear on the country's first passports, however, in 2007 the device was put on the front and the inside of the new biometric Macedonian passports, while the parliamentary debate about acceptance of a new national emblem still continues.

According to the provisions of the Article 5, Section 2 of the Constitution of Macedonia, the two-thirds majority is required to pass a law on the new symbols of the Republic. The usage of the Coat of arms has been defined by a law.[15]

Modern versions of the lion

See also


  1. ^ Article 6ter ─ CD, Fifth edition, World Intellectual Property Organization, 2005, ISBN 978-92-805-0977-9 (contains data up to December 31, 2004)
  2. ^ a b Ustav na Narodna Republika Makedonija ("Služben vesnik", No. 1/47, 1947-01-01)
  3. ^ A quotation from the 8th Article of the Constitution of the Socialist Republic of Macedonia The emblem is framed by a garland of ears of wheat, tobacco and opium poppy fruits, tied by a ribbon with the pattern of a traditional costume. In the centre the circular space there are mountains, rivers, lakes and the sun; where the ears join there is a red five-pointed star. All this represents "the richness of our country, the struggle and the freedom.
  4. ^ a b c World Around Us — the Encyclopaedia for Children and Youth, XI edition, Školska knjiga, Zagreb, 1987, vol. II (A-M), page 242
  5. ^ a b Со замената на сликата се менува и објаснувањето, Пирин преоѓа во Кораб.
  6. ^ Agricultural Encyclopaedia, Yugoslavian Lexicographical Institute, Zagreb, 1970, vol. II (Krm-Proi), page 131, Author of the article on Poppy is Jordan Đorđevski, dipl. ing. agr., professor of the Agricultural and Forestry Faculty of the University of Skopje, Macedonia
  7. ^ Jonovski, Jovan. Coats of arms of Macedonia, Macedonian Herald, Electronic Version @, No. 3, March 2009., p. 9.
  8. ^ a b 62nd birthday of the national emblem of the Republic of Macedonia
  9. ^ Fojnica Armory, online images
  10. ^ Macedonian heraldry|
  11. ^ Matkovski, Aleksandar, Grbovite na Makedonija, Skopje, 1970
  12. ^ Александар Матковски (1990) Грбовите на Македонија, Мисла, Skopje, Macedonia - ISBN 86-15-00160-X
  13. ^ "The most acceptable design was of Miroslav Grcev, professor of architecture"
  14. ^ The lion of the Bulgarian coat of arms from WikiCommons
  15. ^ Zakon za upotreba na grbot, znameto i himnata na Republika Makedonija ("Služben vesnik na Republika Makedonija", No. 32/97, 1997-07-09)
  16. ^ used i.e. on the logos of sports club FK Makedonija Gjorče Petrov and conservative political party VMRO-DPMNE
  17. ^ used on the coat of arms of the World Macedonian Congress and the magazine Australian Macedonian Weekly


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