Wappen der Schweiz
Armorial de la Suisse - Swiss Civic Heraldry
Canton : Bern
Additions : 1919 Bümpliz
The arms are canting, and have been used since the 13th century. The oldest seal of the city dates from 1224 and shows already the bear, but not in a shield and not in a bend. The bear also appears on 13th century coins of the city (see below).
The oldest seal and coin of Bern.
The colours are known since the 14th century, and the arms have never changed since. The arms are also used by the district of Bern and the Canton Bern. To distinguish the arms the canton often uses a floral crown, the city uses a mural crown.
The oldest known description of the arms of Bern dates from the Guglerlied from 1375 :
Berner waffen ist so schnell
mit drin gevarwten strichen;
der ein ist rot, der mittel gel,
darin stat unverblichen
ein ber gar swarz gemalet wol,
rot sind ihn die clawen;
er ist swerzer denn ein kol,
bris er bejagen sol.
(freely translated as : the arms of Bern are so fast, with three painted stripes, the one is red, the middle yellow, in which stands a black bear, with red claws, blacker than a coal, until the hunting begins).
Literature : Wappenbuch des Kantons Bern, 1981.