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Guatemala - Coat of Arms

Last modified: 2012-01-20 by zoltán horváth
Keywords: guatemala | quetzal | laurel |
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[Guatemala - coat of arms]
inscription: "15 de Setiembre"
by Željko Heimer, 19 October 2001


inscription: "15 de Septiembre"
by Željko Heimer, 21 October 2001



see also:


Coat of Arms

The Flag Bulletin #184 says that on 26 December 1997 the spelling on the arms was altered from SETIEMBRE to SEPTIEMBRE.
Nozomi Kariyasu, 14 March 1999

According to my sources, the branches (coffee?) surrounding the arms should bear four red berries each.
Ivan Sache, 4 April 1999

My sources show no berries. Can someone else confirm Ivan's info? And tell me where these berries would be placed if it gets confirmed?
Jorge Candeias, 5 April 1999

I can at least give my sources: Album des Pavillons, DK Pocket Book, Pedersen and Smith all show these berries. And I just discovered there were not four, but five berries per branch. It's rather difficult to describe their location, this would need a detailed botanical description of a coffee branch. One berry is located at the lowest node. For the other, let us count the "voids" (only the big ones) between successive leaves, beginning at the top of the branch; first berry fits in "void" number 3, second berry in "void" number 5, third berry in "void" number 6, and fourth berry in "void" number 13.
Ivan Sache, 5 April 1999

I can't confirm or deny Ivan's info, however, in Pedersen, 1971 English edition, there do appear to be beans at the base of the major leaf groups, but in mixed numbers, usually pairs. The bird is like a parrot (Pedersen describes it as "a quetzal, the 'bird of freedom', derived from a local Indian legend") with the head turned back over its left shoulder.
Michael Smuda, 5 April 1999

That's very different from all other Guatemalan emblems I've seen so far, that look just like my image. I suspect that either it is a wrong depiction (the "parrot" makes me wonder - see below) or an early version. The quetzal is a real bird that lives in the forests of Central America. It was considered sacred by the pre-colombian civilizations, and the priest that "incarnated" the god Quetzalcoatl wore it's feathers. The depictions of the bird in the Guatemalan symbol I've seen so far show the real bird in the position I depicted it. Anyone knows of changes or standartization of the Guatemalan symbol since 1971?
Jorge Candeias, 6 April 1999

The image sent by Michael is pretty much like the one shown by Kannik. He says it is from 1871, and based on the emblem (he says arms) from 1843. He has no blue oval and no background colour, though. According to Pedersen, 1979, the emblem was changed at 9 September 1968 to the one sent by Jorge. Pedersen has a light blue background in the emblem, (symbolizing fantasy), but not when it is in the flag. Pedersen mentions 18 November 1871 for the older emblem. Pedersen shows many berries, by the way. I counted 14 on each branch. He also has a light yellow tone in the scroll.
Ole Andersen, 8 April 1999

All Guatemala's Coat of Arms on the web, got no berries at all. All the official sites uses the same image. Example is at: <www.concyt.gob.gt>. Unofficial sites uses a better Coat of Arms. Example at <www.geocities.com/6886>. The best one (see here) and info in spanish are at <www.mdngt.org>.
Dov Gutterman, 9 April 1999

Ole reported already 14 berries per branch, and from Pederson and FTAAATW I can confirm that (about 14, the images are very dim and the berries very small). The position of the berries are mostly against the branch, not on it, as you giffed them. They are at irregular intervals, a bit winding around the branch. The background of the Coat of Arms is definitely lightblue. BTW the branches are laurel-branches. Laurels have black or darkblue berries naturally, but the Guatemaltec brand is red.
Jarig Bakker, 9 April 1999

Kannik ('56) has no background for the emblem, but he has 22 berries (of which two lack colour - certainly an error).
Pedersen ('79) has the emblem on a light blue circular background. He has 28 berries.
The DK book ('98) has no background, and 10 berries. The background is omitted in the flag
Ole Andersen, 12 April 1999

It looks like the presence or absence of these berries and their number if present is not regulated, varying from rendition to rendition.All the newer renditions of the Coat of Arms that I've seen show no berries at all. See also <www.quetzalnet.com>.
Jorge Candeias, 22 May 1999

The Guatemala Coat of Arms has no berries, thats because these are not coffee branches, in fact they never were. The branches are from the Laurel Tree, I dont know it is called in english, but the scientific name is: Cordia aliodora. The meaning of these branches is related with the greeks, because in that time the best warrior was recognized in public by wearing a laurel barnch crown. So the laurel branch are a symbol of recognition for the courage and bravery of the guatemalan people.
Alberto Solano Roca , 10 May 2000

Earlier this year I had to redraw my image of the Guatemalan arms, which you can see at <www.flags.net>. If you look very closely at the details of the arms you will see that there are small red berries on the branches. This image was created from the official rendition of the arms as supplied to me by Alfred Znamierowski.
Graham Bartram, 10 May 2000

The inscription was changed several years ago from "15 de Setiembre" to "15 de Septiembre".
Marcus Schmöger, 20 October 2001

Željko Heimer asked if a blue disc on the background is part of the Coat of Arms. We had come to the conclusion, based on some official websites, that the blue disc is indeed an integral part of the coat-of-arms, even if it appears on it's own quite often.
Jorge Candeias, 21 October 2001

The month on the scroll was changed from SETIEMBRE to SEPTIEMBRE by Article 5 of Decree No.104 of 26 September 1997,  The remaining Articles are a repeat of Decree No. 12 of 12 September 1968.
Incidentally, Guatemala never officially adopted the rolling-block Remington (mentioned in Article 4) - although a number are known to have been purchased by the Government and issued to the army. Among my (modest) collection of old rifles is a  Remington of the Spanish 1871 pattern, and when doing a specification for the flag I found copying the gun was rather easier than trying to copy the official model. (From the Flag Institute archives - translated by Dr Whitney Smith).
Christopher Southworth, 15 March 2003

Some times the branches are tied with a ribbon at the bottom, but this is forbidden now by legislation. In the Congress Sesions Room, at the back, on the top of the President, there is a Coat of Arms, with a ribbon (and light blue background as beforethe legislation). It is historic and it will not be changed.
Mario Soto, 8 March 2004