National Arms of Suriname

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Civic heraldry of Suriname
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NATIONAL ARMS OF SURINAME

Wapen van Suriname

Official blazon

Origin/meaning

The coat of arms of Suriname consists of two Indians holding a shield. Below the Indians and the shield you find the motto 'Justitia Pietas Fides' which means 'Justice Faith Loyalty'. The sailing boat at the left part of the shield symbolises the history of Suriname when slaves were taken to Suriname from Africa. The palm at the right part of the shield stands for the present as well for justice. The diamond in the middle symbolises a hart. The five-point star within the diamond stands for the five continents the inhabitants from Suriname came from.

In 1667 according to the Treaty of Breda, New Amsterdam (modern New York) was exchanged for Suriname, which was conquered by the Zeeland navy. In 1682 it was handed over to the GWC (Dutch West India Company). On 21 May 1683 the 'Sociëteit van Suriname' ('Society of Suriname') was established, in which the GWC, the City of Amsterdam and Cornelis van Aerssen van Sommelsdijck participated. The first known arms of Suriname can be found of seals from around 1684. It consisted of the arms of the City of Amsterdam, the GWC (a three-master, see also Curacao), and the Family of Van Aerssen, together with two lettrs S, an Indian shooting an arrow, the motto 'Justitia Pietas Fides', and two Indians as supporters.

In 1770 the shares of the Van Aerssen family were taken over by the City of Amsterdam, so the arms of Van Aerssen were dropped.

Wapen van Suriname

The arms of the Sociëteit van Suriname from a document from 1760 (Algemeen Rijksarchief, Den Haag, W.I. Suriname 405)
Wapen van Suriname

The arms of the Sociëteit van Suriname from a document from 1796 (source)
Wapen van Suriname

Seal of the Sociëteit van Suriname from 1794 (Geldmuseum, Utrecht)

In 1795 the 'Society of Suriname' is liquidated, and the colony is governed by the Dutch 'Raad der Coloniën' ('Council of Colonies'). New arms are adopted, consisting of the three-master, flying a (Dutch) flag with 'R.v.S.' for 'Raad van Suriname' ('Council of Suriname').

Wapen van Suriname

The colonial arms of Suriname in the late 18th century (source)
Wapen van Suriname

Seal of Suriname from 1795 (Geldmuseum, Utrecht)
Wapen van Suriname

The colonial arms of Suriname in the 19th century

On 1 March 1803 the Batavian Republic abolished all previous adopted arms, and the Dutch arms (a lion of gold with sword and bunch of arrows) with 'Suriname' underneath became the new arms of Suriname.

After the Kingdom of the Netherlands was established in 1815, the arms of the kingdom were also valid for the colonies. Nevertheless, the arms with the three-master can be found on bank-notes and headings of gazettes, and also on a unofficial flag.

Wapen van Suriname

Medal from 1837 with the arms (Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam)

The modern were adopted 15 December 1959, several years after becoming an autonomous region within the Kingdom of the Netherlands in 1954. When Suriname became independent on 25 November 1975 these arms were slightly revised (the hair of the Indians was changed from blond to black.....) and the meaning of the symbols was changed as can be seen above.

Wapen van Suriname

The arms of Suriname in the Koffie Hag albums
Wapen van Suriname

The arms of Suriname on a 1930s tile
Wapen van Suriname

The arms on a 1987 coin


Literature : "Wapens en Zegels van Suriname", Mr. Johanna Felhoen Kraal, 1950.


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