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Belarus - National Symbols

Last modified: 2023-08-19 by zachary harden
Keywords: belarus | pahonia |
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image located by Zachary Harden, 11 August 2020

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Historical Background

image by Zachary Harden, 16 August 2023

Byelorussia was before 1917 a cultural and territorial expression with no governmental character although it was (with Great Russia and Little Russia--aka Ukraine) one of "all the Russias". As such it would not have an official flag. It was part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania seized in the partitions of Poland. As such many of the old Lithuanian symbols were popularly used, especially the Pogon (Knight on horseback with a shield of blue with a yellow cross) which has after 1918 been used both by Lithuanian and Belarussian nationalists and the Trident which has been used in various forms by the Lithuanians and Ukrainians
Norman Martin , 30 September 1999

Belarus had it's soviet emblem, later (after independence) the horseman arms (Pahonia) for four years and then the current arms.
Anto'nio Martins, 9 November 2002

Official National Emblem

It is a rather socialist type of arms: a globe rising infront of rising many rayed sun, on the ray there is green outline of the Belarus map. All surrounded with garland of wheat and some flowers with red-over-green (half-half) ribbon. On the ribbon there is golden inscription in Cyrillic letters RESPUBLIKA BELARUS', on top red yellow bordered five-pointed star. That is virtually the same as former arms of Belorussian SSR with two differences - instead of hammer and sickle here is the map, and instead the red ribbon (with BSSR and motto) there is bicolour one with new name. I believe that in between of the two, the old (traditional) Belarus arms was used, in the same time when w-r-w flag was in use. That arms are red with white horseman holding shield with double cross (similar to Lithuanian arms). I don't have image of it, but it is quite commonly used in the middle of w-r-w flags on demonstrations these days in Belarus.
Željko Heimer , 2 August 1997

I found this web-site which shows the Belarus CoA as the more historic type arms rather than the new Soviet-style arms which has a outline map of the country in the middle replacing the h&s. The latest arms posted to this list by Željko was the post-Soviet-style arms. This web site is: <>..
I have corresponded with the author of this site and he says that the historic arms are back. Thus, the President flag should change.
Steve Stringfellow , 11 December 1997

From <>:
The National Emblem consists of a green raised-contour outline of Belarus above a globe of the Earth, bathed in golden sunbeams radiating from the sun "rising" from behind the globe. Above the contour is a red five-pointed star. The emblem is framed in a wreath of golden wheat-ears, interlaced with clover flowers on the left and flax flowers on the right. The lower half of the wreath is spiral-wrapped with a red and green ribbon carrying a golden inscription "Respublika Belarus" (Republic of Belarus).
The present National Emblem of the Republic of Belarus symbolizes historical adherence of the Belarussian people to constructive labor, their faith in the triumph of justice and attainment of a worthy place in the world community.

From <>:
Based on the decision of the May referendum (1995), the President of Belarus issued decrees On Approval of a Pattern of National Emblem of the Republic of Belarus..... The National Emblem represents a special green-colored contour of Belarus in golden rays radiated by sun over the globe. On top of the contour is a five-pointed red star. The emblem is set in a frame of wreath of golden wheat-ears interlaced with clover flowers on the right and flax flowers on the left. Wheat -ears are interlaced with a red-green ribbon carrying a golden inscription "The Republic of Belarus" at the bottom.
Joe McMillan, 15 Febuary 2001

Concerning l'Album 2000 [pay00] - Coat of Arms - The CoA is shown in full colours. The star is not outlined in yellow and maybe we could conclude that error without much importance.
Željko Heimer, 11 March 2000


New Version , image by Zachary Harden, 11 August 2020

From <>:
"The national symbol of Belarus - "Pahonia" ("Chase") - has many centuries of history. At first territorial, it has later become a national and state emblem. The creation and establishment of "Pahonia" in belarusian lands as well as its transformation into a national emblem was not a single act, but rather a chain of historical events. Our ancient symbol of Pahonia has been formed in the very early ages of eastern slavic history. It had appeared in written documents beginning from the late XIII c. The image of a charging horseman starts to shape into a symbol around this time. And yet it is certain that the idea of it has an even older history. According to some sources this symbol was first used by Grand Lithuanian Duke Trajdzien' (ruled from 1270 to 1284). Some other documents ascribe it to Grand Duke Vicen' (ruled from 1294 to 1316). The Grand Duche of Lithuania is a middle age belarusian state. Beginning from XIV-XV cc. a seal with an image of "Pahonia" is frequently used as a state symbol. Pahonia takes the central place on a seal of grand duke Vitaut (1407) (see picture right). Vitaut holds it in his left hand (see illustration) together with other symbols. Among the others are the "Cross" - symbol of Valyn' - a duchy south from GDL which was disputed at the time between GDL and Poland; "Kapeis^en'" - symbol of Troki (Trakai) vaiavodstva which he inherited from his father, Keistut, as a family domain; and the "Bear" - a symbol of Zhmudz' (Samogitia - today commonly referred to as "Lithuania") which was at the time disputed between GDL and The Order. After annexation of GDL (belarusian lands) in 1772-95 by Russian Empire the symbol of "Pahonia" continued to function for some time, appearing together with russian imperial double-headed eagle on the state seals and symbols. In the second half of XIX c. the usage of "Pahonia" was transformed from state symbol to regional symbol. The ancient symbols of several belarusian towns were substituted by "Pahonia". Thus the importance of the symbol as national was diminished.On May 14, 1995 a national referendum was held by the president of Belarus A. Lukashenka with severe violations of the Constitution, which resulted in re-establishment of the new state symbols of Belarus, inspired by the symbols of former Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic. During the preparation of the referendum an entire means of state mass media were carrying out propaganda campaign that was designed to associate "Pahonia" symbol and white-red-white flag exclusively with the nazi activity in Belarus during 1941-1944. As a result of such propaganda, in a spirit of Stalin times, 75% of votes had answered "Yes" on a question:" Do you accept the new state symbols?" No images of new symbols appeared on the voting bulletin. Significant number of voters considered their "yes" vote as a support for "Pahonia" and white-red-white flag, which were adopted only 4 years before. Moreover the 75% of votes "yes" totaled to 49% of the entire number of belarusian voters. According to belarusian constitution a majority of 50% is required for state symbol change. Despite of all of these inconsistencies on the next day after referendum , without parliament's ratification and prior to the release of the official results of refferendum, "Pahonia" symbol was taken off the state buildings of Belarus."

Note: those are only extracts from the information that included in the site. For wider view, please, check the site. All ideas that is included in the site are only of the author and can not be regarded as FOTW view. Our site is non-political and concentrates only on vexillological issues. The display of the site is merely an acknowledgement of its existance.
Dov Gutterman , 2 July 1999

From <>:
The traditional national emblem of Belarus - "Pahonia" ("Chase") - has many centuries of history. It appeared in written documents beginning from the late 13th century. According to some sources this symbol was first used by Grand Lithuanian Duke Trajdzien' (ruled from 1270 to 1284). Some other documents ascribe it to Grand Duke Vicen' (ruled from 1294 to 1316). (The Grand Duchy of Litva and Rus was a Belarusian state of the Middle Ages.)
The Pahonia is shown in the central position on the seal of the Grand Duke Vitaut dating from 1407, and appeared on the covers of the "Statutes of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania" published in Old Belarusian in 1529, 1566 and 1588. After the annexation of the GDL in 1772-95 by the Russian Empire, the symbol of "Pahonia" continued to appear together with the Russian imperial double-headed eagle on the state seals and symbols.
During the German occupation of Belarus in World War II, the Pahonia continued to be used by the collaborationist government. It was replaced when Belarus was liberated by Soviet forces, and became the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic.
The Pahonia was again adopted as the official national symbol of Belarus when it declared its independence from the former Soviet Union in 1991.
Jarig Bakker , 9 July 1999

There is a flag where the Pahonia is put in the center of a red flag, similar to a banner of arms, as another symbol of protest against the Lukashenko government. Other times, the emblem is placed on the 1991-1995 flag.
Zachary Harden, 13 December 2022