Last modified: 2003-08-16 by dov gutterman
Keywords: guatemala | america | triband | quetzal | laurel | rifle | sword |
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by Jorge Candeias, 22 May 1999
Civil Flag and Ensign
by Zeljko Heimer, 19 October 2001
Official Name: Republic of Guatemala
(República de Guatemala)
Location: Central America
Government Type: Democratic Republic
Flag adopted: 26 December 1997
Coat of Arms adopted: 26 December 1997
ISO Code: GT
The right colors, ratio and national arms (seal), in an
"html" version of the guatemalan flag, can be seen at
Guido Solares, 27 July 1998
As far as I know, Guatemala follows a practice common to
several other nations (Germany and Austria are examples) of having two official
flags for use at land: the one known as civil flag is the
blue-white-blue with no further ornaments, to be used primarily
by the citizens, and the one known as state flag, which adds the
coat of arms to the civil flag. Usually, this flag is to be used
in any official condition to represent the country, though the
specifics of it's usage varies from country to country.
Jorge Candeias, 17 October 1998
From the number of messages we've been receiving saying that
the blue-white-blue flag is wrong, it looks like in Guatemala the
state flag is much more in use than the civil flag, or even that
the civil flag is not used at all.
Jorge Candeias, 3 April 1999
I was in Guatemala on last October and when I tried to buy a
flag without the Quetzal, people told me that it does not exist,
that the flag always has the Coat of Arms, or at least that is
the way common people know their flag
Armando Azua, 2 June 2000
An anectode we were told in primary school regarding the
position of the colors in the Guatemalan and Central American
flags said that the blue stripes with the white in between
simbolized the land between the two seas.
Alejandro Gutierrez-Pons, 30 August 2000
In Carlo A. Ferro's book: The Argentine flag, inspirer of
the central American banners, the Guatemalan colors are
mentioned in the following way:
International naming for blue: ISCC-NBS 177, or VM 1.6 PB 5.9/9.4
International naming for white: ISCC-NBS 263, or VM 2.5 PB 9.5/0.2
The Pantone value for the shade of blue in the flag of Guatemala would be 297, but Luis Havas mentions 2995.
Gus Tracchia, 27 November 2000
According to Album 2000 [pay00]:
- National Flag (-CS/-CS (5:8)) - BWB vertical tricolour with CoA in the middle. The colour approximation given in Album 2000 is Pantone 299c, i.e. CMYK 90-20-0-0. RGB this would be something like 0-102-255.
- Civil Flag and Ensign (C--/C-- (5:8)) - BWB vertical triband.
Zeljko Heimer, 19 October 2001
In "Flags and South Africa and the World",
Proceedings of the XVIIth International Congress of Vexillology,
there is a paper by Teodoro Amerlinck entitled:
"Histoires des insignes du Guatemala" (A history of
Guatemalan emblems); (pp. 127-135.
The paper includes three official texts about the national flag and arms of Guatemala [My own translation from the French rendition by T.A. of the original Spanish texts.] :
A. Decree of 12 August 1871 (signed by Provisory President Miguel Garcia Granados):
1. The national colours shall be blue and white in three
vertical stripes, with the white stripe in the middle.
2. The national ensign shall include in the white stripe the shield of arms of the Republic.
3. The civil ensign shall be the same, but without the shield.
4. The cockade shall have the same colours in the same pattern.
B. Decree of 18 November 1871 (signed by President Miguel Garcia Granados):
The arms of the Republic shall be:
A shield with two rifles and two golden swords tied with laurel branches, on a light blue field. The center shall be masked by a parchment, on which golden letters shall read "Libertad 15 de Septiembre de 1821". Above, there shall be a Quetzal (Pharomacrus Mocinno) as the symbol of Independence and autonomy of the Nation.
[Comments by T.A. - The Quetzal is the symbol of Independence because it cannot survive in captivity. The arms were designed by the Swiss artist and engraver Jean-Baptiste Frener (1821-1897) who lived in Guatemala from 1854 until his death. The above decrees remained unchanged until 1968.]
C. Regulation of 12 September 1968 (signed by President Dr. Don Julio Cesar Mendez Montenegro) National Palace ,Guatemala 12 September 1968
The Constitutional President of the Republic.
Considering: That, according the decrees 12 and 33, dated 13 August [12 August according to Decree reported above] and 18 November 1871, respectively and signed by the President of Guatemala, General Miguel Garcia Granados, the national flag and the shield of the Republic were established.
Considering: That the lack of appropriate regulation on such an important question caused the symbols of the country to be represented in a whimsick and arbitrary manner, regarding both the colour shades and the drawing of the shield of arms of the Republic.
Considering: That by Governmental Agreement of 30 November 1967, a commission was created to realize the studies necessary to the correct enforcement of the laws, and after worthy work, gave its decision.
According to the power granted by paragraph 4 of article 189 of the Constitution of the Republic, In Council of Ministers, [The President] Orders: The following Regulation on the colours and drawing of the flag and the shield of the nation
On the flag
Article 1. The flag of Guatemala is the supreme emblem of the Nation. It bears in the centre the shield of Arms of the Republic, according to the Decrees 12 and 33 of 17 August [13 August in the same text, see above] and 18 November 1871, repectively.
Article 2. The flag shall not bear any caption or additional letterings,except in specific cases in accordance with military regulations.
Article 3. The colours of the flag are blue and white, placed in three vertical stripes of the same width; two blue stripes at the ends and one white in the middle. The white stripe shall bear in the centre the shield of arms of the Republic, with dimensions in proportion to the Emblem of the Nation; the civil ensign shall be the same, but without
the shield. The blue colour which stands for justice and loyalty recalls the blue of the sky above Guatemala and is designed according to the international nomenclature [expanded in Article 14, see below] as ISCC-NBS177 or VM 1.6 PB 5.9/9.4. The white colour symbolizes purity and integrity, and is equivalent to ISCC-NBS 263 or VM 2.5 PB 9.5/0.2
Article 4. The shape of the flag is a rectangle with proportions of 5:8, vertical and horizontal, respectively. The relation 5 to 8 matches the golden rule of aesthetical proportion.
On the shield
Article 5. The shield of arms of the Republic, when drawn independently, shall have a colour of clear sky, according to the Decree on its creation. This colour, which represents ideality, is equivalent to ISCC-NBS 184 or VM 1.5 PB 8.3/8.3
Article 6. The genuine Remington rifles (1871) shall be shown with triangular bayonet, in side view with the "pontet" [the metallic piece that protects the trigger] down, and crossed at right angle in the centre of the shield.
Article 7. The swords, symbols of justice and sovereignty, without scabbard and in gold, are crossed at right angle, in symmetry with the rifles.
Article 8. The laurel branches, symbol of victory, which interlace the arms, are represented in natural with their fruit, with their bases interlaced and without tie. The lower leaves of the branches shall interlace with the hilts of the swords, and the uppermost leaves shall interlace with the bayonets.
Article 9. The parchment, whose caption immortalizes the birthdate of the country, unrolls on the centre of the shield, on the rifle crossing. It rolls a revolution and a half to the obverse of the upper part and a revolution and a half to the reverse in the lower part, and stands on the blades of the swords. In the centre of the parchment shall be read in capital letters, on four lines, the following: on the first line LIBERTAD, on the second 15 DE, on the third SETIEMBRE and on the fourth DE 1821.
Article 10. On the top of the parchment stands a quetzal, the supreme symbol of liberty. It is shown dexter with natural colours. The feather tails lay on the corresponding side [unclear in the original French text] and shall surpass [?] slightly the lower leaves of the laurel.
The next articles regulate the use of the flag and shield.
Article 14 states that nomenclature follows the ISCC (International Society of Colour Council) and NBS (National Bureau of Standards, USA) or the International Color Coding System of Munsell Color Company (VM).
Article 17 states that the regulation will be inforced on 15 September of the present year , the Nation's Day.
The author notes that several minor variations in the shield are common, especially in the Quetzal design, the shape of the parchment, the letterings SETIEMBRE or SEPTIEMBRE and the laurels, which often look like coffee trees.
[In my opinion, the above texts do not make any difference between a State flag (with arms) and a national flag (without arms). There is just distinction between the national flag (with arms) and the civil ensign (without them). Additional precisions might be included in the articles of the 1968 regulation not reported by T.A.]
Ivan Sache, 28 Febuary 2000
The book "Historial de las Insignias de Guatemala
Sociadad de Geografia e Historia" (Guatemala 1971) gives the
date and text of the decree. The blue-white-blue vertical flag is
adopt at 17. Aug.1871. The CoA is adopt at 18. Nov. 1871.
Klaus Günther, 10 November 2001
by Jaume Olle, 17 March 2001
At "Nouveau Petit Larousse Illustre" (1926),
Guatamala Flag probably got the same badge, but around it a
shield shape, if I'm not mistaken quite similar to the shape
around the Route numbers in the USA.
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 29 October 2000
According to old European sources, Guatemala state flag in 1879 and 1882 (and 1898 at Japanese flag
book too) is royal blue, white ,royal blue vertical 3 stripes
(1:1:1) with Arms in yellow bordered royal blue shield in white
stripe. proportion 1:2 and 5:8.
Nozomi Kariyasu, 21 January 2001
We assume that the images sent by Nozomi Kariyasu are
Jaume Olle and Ralf Stelter, 21 January 2001
The image of Guatemalan flag drawn by Jaume Olle is
based on source from Flags of Maritime Nations by U.S, dept of
Navy 1882, similar image from Japanese book Kakkoku Kisho Meikan
by Yosei Michimoto 1898 and British book Flags of All Nations
Nozomi Kariyasu, 17 March 2001
Flaggenbuch by German Navy in 1905 shows Guatemalan
state flag with Coat of Arms in shield as well.
Nozomi Kariyasu, 5 April 2001