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Book source: Geschiedkundige Aantekeningen Over Suriname en Paramaribo, Fred Oudschans Dentz, De West, Paramaribo,1972

Subject: [History, Heraldry] The Coat of Arms of Suriname


For an image of the coat of arms and a present day description of the meaning of the coat of arms go to: The Coat of Arms of Suriname . Image of the Coat of Arms of Suriname 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 symbolizes 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.

The present day coat of arms find its roots in the coat of arms when Suriname was the property of: -The West Indies Company - The Aersens van Sommelsdijck family -The city of Amsterdam The motto was carefully selected and approved by their owners; Justitia, Pietas, Fides. This was before the year 1770. In those days the Dutch were a maritime power and as was so with many "powers" there was the belief of being the chosen people to rule the seas, for trade, commerce even missionary work for "God and Country". Justitia could easily have been selected as meaning "just...justified", Pietas meaning a devotion to God, country, family and Fides meaning a faithfulness to this obligation. In 1770 the family Aersen van Sommelsdijck sold their 1/3 share of Suriname to the city of Amsterdam. The shield represented now a three mast sailing ship. The pride of the Dutch merchant marine. It's size and colors (Dutch flag, 'generaliteits' flag) were the symbols of Dutch might. The motto justitia, pietas, fides was kept and two Indians flanked the shield.[Early picture showed two slightly overweight Amer-indians...not the athletic built amer-indians as shown today]

The present day coat of arms is more an artistic rendition from the past and I do not believe to represent todays PC thinking.

The sailing ship was not the same as the ships which brought the slaves to Suriname. Those 'slavenhalers' were small and uncomfortable and used to pack the slaves as sardines. The sailing ship on the coat of arms was the symbol of Dutch power at sea. The five pointed star does not necesarily represent the 5 continents the population came from but more a solidarity of the time to join other newly independent countries who adopted stars. Indonesia has a star in it coat of arms and many countries have stars in their flag. The palm tree is also not a true native of Suriname but introduced by foreigners. Thus we can examine the coat of arms of Suriname in its historical context and its thinking of the time but also in the political correctness context of today.

Met dank aan Albert Buys

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