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SMOLENSK REGION

 

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Official symbols of Smolensk region

Герб Смоленской области Герб Смоленской области

 

The developer of the project of the official symbols of Smolensk region is Gennady Vladimirovich Razhnev – Ph.D. (candidate) of Philosophy, an Associate Professor, an honourable member of the Russian heraldic society, a member of the Board of the Russian heraldic society.

The Coat-of-Arms of Smolensk region originates from the oldest Coat-of-Arms which was established by prince Gleb Svyatoslavovich in 1393.

That original Coat-of-Arms depicted a gun and the bird Gamayun sitting on it. Until the beginning of the 18th century the Coat-of-Arms consisted of a shield, a gun and a bird. In the beginning of the 18th century the necessity arose to unify all Coats-of-Arms that existed in Russia, in accordance with science of that time. The Coat-of-Arms of Smolensk region was depicted on the shield which was decorated by the Hat of Monomah.

That was an honourable exception for those lands which formely had been grand princedoms. Smolensk land was exactly such a princedom . Only 12 Coats-of-Arms of 88 had that honourable and unique, exceptional peculiarity. All the rest Coats-of-Arms had simpler, more primitive ornaments in the manner of a simple iron crown. The Coat-of-Arms existed unchanged till 1780.

In 1780 the empress Catherine II has cancelled all decorations of Coats-of-Arms and left only the shield. In the middle of the 19th century a reform took place in Russian heraldry, in the course of which absolutely similar decorations for Coats-of-Arms of all provinces and districts were introduced.

Smolensk province Coat-of-Arms, as well as Coat-of-Arms of any province of Russia, was crowned by the so named imperial crown – a sign of imperial authority. Provinces had no crowns of their own on the Coat-of-Arms. Instead of them there were golden oak branches and St.Andrew blue ribbon.

Such Coats-of-Arms were similar for all provinces without exception, including Smolensk. When the Soviet Union was formed and one united territorial system was accepted, naturally, all legal acts on province Coats-of-Arms lost their power. So Smolensk region since the moment of its formation in 1937 had no Coat-of-Arms to say nothing of its flag. With the rebirth of Russian heraldry, recreation of Coats-of-Arms and even flags of regions started.

At present the Coat-of-Arms of Smolensk region is a round shield, the upper edge of which covered with merlons so that it looks like Smolensk fortress wall which was built by joint effort of the whole Russia and which played the great role not only for Smolensk and Smolensk region, but also the for the whole of Russia. The lower part of the shield is round which restores the historical form of ancient Smolensk shields.

As a result of excavations of burial mounds the weapons of a group of buried warriors of Smolensk and Gnezdovo were found. All of them had shields of rounded form.

Rounded shield is a symbol of our Smolensk region. The shield is decorated with the ribbon of Lenin Order with which Smolensk region was rewarded in 1958. Lenin Order is a symbol of repeated feats of Smolensk. Many workers of our region were awarded with this order as well. The gun and the bird Gamayun are traditionally kept on the Coat-of-Arms.

The gun is an eternal symbol not only because Smolensk was the first province in Russia to possess this weapon.

In 1393 the first artillery salute in Russia took place in Smolensk, a hundred years earlier than in Moscow. A Russian chronicle is the evidence of that.

The Bird Gamayun is the symbol of happiness, the bird of peace, the bird of space – the first cosmonaut of our planet Yuri Gagarin.

The gun itself is depicted the way it was depicted in the 17th – 18th centuries, not in profile, but a little from behind. The pattern of the back part of the gun is the pattern of ribbon of the Guard.

In the lower part of the Coat-of-Arms there are branches of oak and sheaves of flax. A branch of oak with acorns is a symbol of mature military valour, mature military heroism, military glory, which Smolensk showed in history of Russia, and flax is an unofficial symbol of the region. On these 2 branches there is a single ribbon with the motto: “Unbending spirit will overcome everything!”. These words were taken from the address of Kutuzov to Smolensk people in August of 1812.

In this way we pay tribute to memory of our great military leader, who was given the title of “Smolensky”. The Hat of Monomah crowns the shield.

Today a crown is a symbol not of monarchic government and monarchy in Russia, but a sign of the status of the region bearing this Coat-of-Arms .

Coats-of-Arms in modern heraldry define only the status, the relation, in this case – the status of Smolensk region, which originates from grand Smolensk princedom.

The white colour on the shield is also a special symbol. This symbol shows that Smolensk region was a center of white Rusi.

Russia originates from 3 sources: white, clay and small Rusi.

The white stripe of the Russian flag is our Smolensk stripe.

Besides, white colour is a symbol of peace, help and reciprocal assistance. It suits Smolensk region, which is a border region, very well. Moreover, Smolensk is a symbol of military glory. The Cross of St.Georgy was of white colour, Russian warriors went to mortal battles in white clothes. That’s why white colour is the most suitable to symbolize our region.

Besides the Coat-of-Arms has hidden symbols. These are the symbols of creative, musical and poetical intellectuals, humanitarian intellectuals in general.

By a sign of lira we once again stress that Smolensk region is the birthplace of Glinka and many Russian poets.

A few words about our the flag of our region

The red colour of the flag is a symbol of battlefield as Smolensk land is an enormous historic field of battle. On this land 3 hardest wars in Russian history took place.

The first stripe is a war against Polish invaders. The second red stripe is a war against of Frenchmen in 1812. And the third one is the largest – the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945.

The outline of Lenin Order is placed horizontally on the red field of the flag. That reminds once again that Smolensk region was rewarded with a high reward of our country.

The yellow stripe is a symbol of historic Smolensk. Yellow is the colour of the birds Gamayun and Phoenix.

The bird Phoenix is a bird which revives from ashes. Smolensk region twice in its history completely rose from ashes: after the year of 1812 against Frenchmen and after the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945.

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