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Finnish heraldry: Wikis


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Finnish heraldry has common past with Swedish heraldry until 1809 and it belongs to German heraldic tradition.


Official Heraldry

Arms of the historical provinces of Finland originate from the Early Vasa era. Arms of the Grand Duchy of Finland was created 1581.

During the 1950s and 1960s heraldry in Finland had an upswing that is quite unique in history of heraldry. In short time coats of arms were designed to all municipalities of Finland. Arms were designed with high standards. Notable designers were Gustaf von Numers, Ahti Hammar and Olof Eriksson. A Danish heraldist Sven Tito Achen has esteemed them best of the world.



Private Heraldry

The oldest known coat of arms in Finland is in the seal of Bertold, vouti of Häme Castle (1297).

Coats of arms of the nobility are recorded by Finnish House of Nobility. The last ennoblement was 1912. Coronets of rank are the same as in Swedish heraldry.

After renaissance of municipal heraldry the interest expanded also to adopting burgher arms. Burgher arms were used in Finland in 17th and 18th centuries by wealthy merchants, priests, officers and magistrates, but in many cases by one generation only and they became rare after royal statute against “use of ‘noble shield and open helmet’ by burghers, 1762”. In fact, non-noble family heraldry now began from almost nothing. Heraldic Society of Finland began unofficially to keep register on burgher arms, which were published in 2006 as an armorial, containing 1356 arms. Swedish edict against “use of ‘noble shield and open helmet’ by burghers" is still respected and Heraldic Society of Finland does take in its register burgher arms only with tilting helmet. Each President of Finland needs a coat of arms as a member of Order of the Seraphim in Sweden and for Order of the Elephant in Denmark. Presidents' new coats of arms get nowadays in Finland lots of publicity.


Arms of Outokumpu

Finnish heraldry is generally quite high quality, which can be seen from the "Ten Commandments for a Designer of Finnish Heraldry", drawn up by Jukka Suvisaari and amended by a committee set up by the Heraldic Society of Finland in April 1990. The committee consisted of Kimmo Kara, Juhani Vepsäläinen and Jukka Suvisaari.

  1. Only heraldic tinctures are used. These are the metals, gold (Or) and silver (Argent); and the colors, red (Gules), blue (Azure), black (Sable) and green (Vert). In heraldic drawings yellow can be used in place of gold and white in place of silver. In flags and pennants this is almost always done nowadays. Heraldic colours are bright and clean; tones of the colours are picked from center of the scale.
  2. The use of only two tinctures, of which one is a metal, is preferred. The use of a third tincture requires good reasons, but a fourth is definitely bad heraldry.
  3. According to the tincture rule, one must not place colour on or next to colour or metal on or next to metal, unless the line of contact is very short.
  4. Letters, numbers or texts do not belong on a heraldic emblem.
  5. Figures (charges) must be as big as possible and fill the space intended for them as completely as possible.
  6. In figures natural presentation is not important, but characteristic is. (i.e the ferocity of the lion, majesty of the eagle, gracefulness of the deer)
  7. In principle the charges should be two dimensional. At a minimum they must be recognisable even when presented as coloured flat surfaces, without shading or extra borderlines.
  8. A heraldic emblem must be easy to remember. It should not be crowded with too many symbols, only the absolutely essential. The ideal is only one charge.
  9. It is forbidden to be repetitive in heraldry: one idea should not be symbolized with two or more charges. On the other hand, if one charge suffices to symbolize two or more ideas, it only strengthens the symbolism of the charge, and therefore the whole emblem.
  10. The charges and the whole emblem must be such that they can be redrawn according to a written description (blazon) of the coat of arms or flag without a model. This means that the charge must be a general presentation of its kind. For example, a castle cannot be a specific castle, but only a stylized heraldic castle (although it can be explained as referring to, say, Korela Fortress). In other words, the description of the charge should not require the use of a proper noun.[1]

Finnish heraldry has introduced some new lines of partition, such as "Fir twig partition" (havukoro) and "Fir tree top partition" (kuusikoro). For example the arms of Outokumpu, designed by Olof Eriksson in 1953, has a fir-twigged chief. Finnish heraldry has also had some influence on South African heraldry.

Some Basic Vocabulary

Tincture Heraldic name Finnish name
Gold/Yellow Or kulta/keltainen
Silver/White Argent hopea/valkoinen
Blue Azure sininen
Red Gules punainen
Black Sable musta
Green Vert vihreä
  • heraldry = heraldiikka
  • coat of arms = vaakuna
  • coat of arms of a noble family = aatelisvaakuna
  • burgher arms = porvarisvaakuna
Example Parted per fess.svg Parted per pale.svg Parted per bend sinister.svg Parted quarterly.svg Parted quarterly with a heart.svg
English name Parted per fess Parted per pale Parted per bend sinister Parted quarterly Parted quarterly with a heart
Finnish name katkoinen halkoinen vastalohkoinen nelijakoinen nelijakoinen ja sydänkilpi

See also


  1. ^ Suvisaari, Kruunattu hevosenkenkä Hästsko med krona, 2005. pages 21-23.
  • Sven Tito Achen: The Modern Civic Heraldry of Finland – The World’s Best. Report of The XVIth International Congress of Genealogical and Heraldic Sciences in Helsinki 16-21 August 1984, Edited by Tom C. Bergroth. Printed by Gummerus Oy 1986. ISBN 951-99640-4-5
  • Bo Tennberg: The Renaissance of Heraldry in Finland. Report of The XVIth International Congress of Genealogical and Heraldic Sciences in Helsinki 16-21 August 1984, Edited by Tom C. Bergroth. Printed by Gummerus Oy 1986. ISBN 951-99640-4-5

External links


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