The coat of arms of Peru is one of the symbols that, together with the national anthem and the national flag, correspond to the set of civic symbols that represent the image and identity of Peru as a sovereign nation on the international scene.
It is exhibited by the different organs of the Peruvian State and a large number of national institutions.
The current version of the national emblem has been in force since its first approval in 1825, with subsequent ratification (and a slight change in design) more than a century later, in 1950. Since then, the shield has remained in design and significance without any changes.
The shield of Peru possesses many elements similar to the shields of its Latin American neighbors. This may be because these nations sought to exalt through their symbols the importance of their struggle to achieve independence.
The case of this national symbol is striking, since the Republic of Peru has several official versions of its shield, which are used or displayed in particular cases, and have some details that others do not have.
Description and meaning of the Shield of Peru
The national coat of arms, like the vast majority of these symbols today, complies with the heraldic regulations in its design, and is composed of three main parts: the blazon, bell and tenant.
The central element of the shield is considered, according to heraldry, to be Polish, and presents a vertical and a horizontal division, leaving three quadrants that contain their own elements.
In the upper left corner, on a blue background, there is a vicuña, a common animal of the Andean highlands. It is a symbolic representation of the riches of the animal kingdom.
In the upper right, on a white or argan background, there is a cinchona tree, also known as cinchona.
This represents, similar to its neighbor, the riches of the plant kingdom, although it also has a historical interpretation: struck by malaria for a time, the Peruvians extracted a powder from the bark of cinchona as a remedy for the disease.
At the bottom, on a reddish background, is a cornucopia, or horn of plenty, spilling gold coins. The meaning of this element is the wealth of the mineral kingdom.
The upper part of the shield, above the coat of arms, is adorned by a civic crown of holm oaks as a unique element. The presence of this crown symbolizes the victories of the Peruvian nation.
Behind the coat of arms and extending to the sides, are the national flag and standard, placed on the point of spears.
In one of the variants of the shield, the flag and the standard are accompanied by a laurel branch and a palm branch, tied at one end with the national colors, a common element in many Latin American shields.
History and evolution of the Shield of Peru
Unlike other nations and the changes in their civic symbols, the coat of arms of Peru has not undergone so many modifications in its design since its first conception, once the independence of the nation was consecrated.
The first version of the shield came to light from the hand of General José de San Martin in its design, in 1820, and was also approved by the Constituent Congress of that time.
The central composition of that first design consisted of a view of the Andes from the sea, and the Sun rising behind the immense mountains.
Around the coat of arms, were a multitude of flags representative of the emerging Latin American nations, with a banana palm that stands in the middle.
These elements were accompanied on the sides by a condor on the left side, and a llama on the right side.
The next version of the national shield would be approved in 1825, by Simón Bolívar and the respective Constituent Congress.
The design this time was made by José Gregorio Paredes and Francisco Javier Cortes, who gave it a very similar look to the one currently in force. This was due to a decision by El Libertador to renew all the national symbols based on a law.
The last modification would take place more than a century later, in 1950, when by means of a law proposed by the President of the Government Military Junta formed at that time, the lower part of the coat of arms was given greater width and the internal divisions were made with more accuracy.
It was officially coined in the term of the National Shield, although it is not visible on the shield itself.
Variants of the Shield of Peru
The national shield has different versions depending on the stage or official context in which it is exhibited.
The most common of all, and described in detail in these lines, is officially called the National Shield.
Coat of arms
The Coat of Arms of the Republic of Peru, unlike the National Shield, does not have the flag or the standard on the sides of the blazon.
These are replaced by a laurel branch and a palm branch, each on one side, and joined at the bottom by a bow that bears the national colors. This version of the shield is the one that is usually found on the reverse of coins and bills.
Great Seal of the Peruvian State
The presence of this variant of the national shield is limited only to the official documents and reports of the Peruvian State. It is mandatory to have it stamped on the letterhead of all governmental and regional documents that have an official character.
It is not publicly exhibited at celebrations or in public institutions. The main quality of this version is the presence of the text “Republic of Peru” above the shield, which presents the same design as the so-called National Shield.
This last variant, although sometimes considered as a separate category, uses many elements of the national coat of arms.
Its exhibition is limited to the internal ranks of the Peruvian Navy. Its design surrounds the coat of arms with two large golden anchors, a Sun above, and the presence of the text “Navy of Peru”.
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- From Peru. (sf). The Shield of Peru . Obtained from deperu.com: deperu.com
- ENCINAS, D. (2016). The shields of democracy in Argentina and Peru: the crisis as a route to competitive authoritarianism. Political Science Magazine .
- Leonardini, N. (2009). Republican identity, ideology and iconography in Peru. ARBOR Science, Thought and Culture , 1259-1270.
- Editorial The Republic. (July 13, 2016). Learn about the history of the National Shield of Peru. The Republic .