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Finnish heraldry has common past with Swedish
heraldry until 1809 and it
belongs to German heraldic
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.
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.
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Letters, numbers or texts do not belong on a heraldic
- Figures (charges) must be as big as possible
and fill the space intended for them as completely as
- 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)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
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.
- heraldry = heraldiikka
- coat of arms = vaakuna
- coat of arms of a noble family = aatelisvaakuna
- burgher arms = porvarisvaakuna
||Parted per fess
||Parted per pale
||Parted per bend sinister
||Parted quarterly with a heart
||nelijakoinen ja sydänkilpi
Suvisaari, Kruunattu hevosenkenkä Hästsko med krona, 2005. pages
- 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