The A Belarus Miscellany Web site proudly displays (on its opening page) two of the first postage stamps issued by the newly independent Republic of Belarus (August 31, 1992; specifically, the 4th & 5th stamps). The white-red-white flag and the Pahonia are important, affirmative symbols of Belarus as a people and as an independent nation.
- For information about the other traditional symbols of Belarus, see the Flags of Belarus and the National Anthem of Belarus information and links on this A Belarus Miscellany Web site.
- For information about the postage stamps of Belarus, see the Bel-Poshta and Other Postage Stamp information at this Web site.
- The Pahonia (or Pahonya or Pagonia), translated as "pursuit" or "the chase", depicts a knight on horseback and is the traditional symbol, and coat of arms, of the independent Belarus.
In 1918, the Belarusian Democratic Republic adopted as its coat of arms the Pahonia as an emblem that originated in ancient Navahradak (also Navahrudak, Novogrudok, Novogorodok), the first capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Rus', and Samogitia. The Pahonia represents a knight on horseback, both white, on a red background, the knight having his sword drawn, symbolizing pursuit of an enemy in defense of the homeland. The Pahonia was the coat of arms of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Rus', and Samogithia, of which Belarus was an integral part for over five centuries.
The Pahonia is not one of the current symbols as the referendum of May 14, 1995, returned Belarus to a modified Soviet-era flag and state seal (coat of arms). (N.B.: On the streets of Mensk [in 1997-98], the current, Soviet-style symbol is referred to as the "cabbage," partly as a plain pejorative of its appearance and association with the USSR, and partly in reference to the current government's disastrous economic policies.)
"Opposition activists in Grodno [Hronda] pass out cabbage leaves at government-organized State Emblem and Flag Day rally." from BelaPAN 2003-05-11 15:55:00
Refer to the entry for Belarus in the Flags of the World Web page to see these current symbols.
Some of the preceding information is from the entry, National Emblems, in the Historical Dictionary of Belarus (Zaprudnik, 1998; pp. 162-163):
- Other Factoids:
The white-red-white flag and the Pahonia symbols are considered (by the current regime in power in Belarus) to be only displayed by those people who are "against" them. This regime claims that these symbols are tainted since they were used by Nazi collaborators and sympathizers during World War II. (Yet somehow, the current modified Soviet symbols used by the Republic of Belarus are not tainted, even though millions of Belarusians were murdered, imprisoned, or exiled by the Soviets before, during, and after World War II.)
Of course, reality is more complicated than what is described by the current regime, even if such statements were accurate--which they are not. The Soviets referred to all people who did not support them as "fascists" or fascist sympathizers, yet in many ways, a civil war was fought in Belarus during World War II.
- The Pahonia also appeared on the Belarusian visa stamp, issued to foreigners visiting Belarus and pasted in their passports. Beginning in 1998, a sticker with the current (modified Soviet) state seal was affixed over the Pahonia on the visa stamp. I have been told gluing anything on a visa is against international visa regulations. A new visa stamp, without the Pahonia, is now used. (I first saw the Soviet-style ("cabbage") stamp used in 2002, but I do not know when it was first used, other than some time between 1998 and 2002.)
- The Pahonia also appeared on most denominations of Belarusian paper money issued up through 1995. The 50,000 and the 100,000 ruble notes, issued in 1995 & 1996 respectively, did not have the Pahonia. (There are no Belarusian coins currently in circulation.)
- Beginning in January, 2000, new, revalued (that is, three zeroes were removed) paper money was issued in Belarus, and did not include the Pahonia.
See the following link for further information and examples of Belarusian paper money, before and after re-valuation: http://worldmoney.narod.ru/europe/belarus/e_index.html (on the All Money of the World Web site; site includes links to other Web sites about Belarusian money).
- Refer to this section of the Virtual Guide to Belarus Web page for a discussion of the following symbols of Belarus, as well as associated pointers to other sites: Belarusian Statehood: Belarusian State, Anthem, Symbol, and Flag.
And especially refer to the Belarusian State Symbol: Pahonia -- the Chase section of the Virtual Guide on Web servers in Germany and in the USA.
- Refer to this section of the Lithuania Home Page for a discussion of the state emblem for Lithuania which has a shared history with that of Belarus: The State Emblem of Lithuania.
As the inventories of traditional flags, patches, label pins, etc., are depleted, it is getting more and more difficult to find these traditional symbols of Belarus. If you know of a commercial source, please contact me, and I will add that reference here. (I will give preference to Belarusian non-profit cultural organizations to this list.)
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