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Symbol/Crest of Carpatho-Rusyns.

Symbol/Crest of Carpatho-Rusyns. A national symbol for Carpatho-Rusyns was first created after Subcarpathian Rus’ was united with Czechoslovakia. Initial proposals were for a symbol based on the crests used by the four historic counties (*Uzh, *Bereg, *Ugocha, *Maramorosh) within *Subcarpathian Rus’. In its center was to be a shield emblazoned with the six-sided, two-bar cross of Prince *Koriatovych. In the top portion, above the cross, was a deer with pine trees to the left and right, before a backdrop of mountains. In the middle portion were two figures: a man with a scythe to the left of the cross and a woman with grape vines to the right. The bottom portion included nine horizontal stripes with five fish to symbolize Subcarpathia’s main rivers. This proposed symbol did not, however, respond properly to general heraldic principles, and its five parts were too complex and could not be used within the framework of the great and middle symbols of the Czechoslovak republic.

On March 30, 1920, the Czechoslovak parliament approved a symbol that followed accepted heraldic principles. It consisted of a heraldic shield divided vertically into two parts: on the left were three gold horizontal bars on a field of dark blue; on the right was the red figure of an open-mouthed Carpathian bear standing on its two hind legs and emblazoned on a field of silver grey. The bear symbolized the *Carpathian Mountains; the three golden bars the region’s major rivers—Uzh, Latorytsia, and Tisza/Tysa. Dark blue and gold are traditional heraldic colors existed in the symbols and flags of the counties and cities of Subcarpathian Rus’. Some pro-Ukrainian scholars argue that the Czechoslovak parliament condoned the use of Ukrainian national colors as an indication of Subcarpathian affinity with Ukraine (although Ukraine did not exist as a state in 1920). But Czechoslovakia, which had just annexed Subcarpathian Rus’, was unlikely to wish to show that the new territory belonged to any other foreign entity.

At a meeting of the first and last session of the region’s autonomous parliament (March 15, 1939), Ukrainian nationalist deputies proposed adding to the Subcarpathian symbol the Ukrainian trident with a cross atop its middle vertical fork.

From 1939 to 1990, first under Hungarian and then under Soviet rule, the regional symbol of Subcarpathian Rus’ was banned. It was only on December 12, 1990, that the Transcarpathian Regional Parliament (Oblastna rada) adopted the interwar symbol for official use in the Transcarpathian oblast. The larger Rusyn movement that has evolved especially since 1989 has also adopted the interwar crest, which has become the national symbol of the Carpatho-Rusyns worldwide. It is used as the official seal and in publications of Rusyn organizations in Ukraine, Slovakia, Hungary, and Yugoslavia as well as by the *World Congress of Rusyns.

Bibliography: Avhustyn Shtefan, “Kol’ory—herby i prapory Zakarpattia,” in Al’manakh ‘Provydinnia’ na rik 1971 (Philadelphia, 1970), pp. 151-161; Milan Hlinomaz, “Navrhy znaku Podkarpatske Rusi z roku 1920,” Heraldicko-genealogicky zpravodaj, XIX, 2 (Prague, 1986), pp. 187-190; Andrzej Wocial, “Symbols of Carpatho-Ukraine,” The Flag Bulletin, XXX, 4 (Winchester, Mass., 1991), pp. 141-153; O. Filipov, “Istoriia stvorennia herba Pidkarpats’koi Rusi,” in Doslidzhennia istorii sotsial’no-ekonomichnoho rozvytku krain tsentral’noi ta pivdenno-skhidnoi Ievropy (Uzhhorod, 1978), pp. 354-360.

Ivan Pop

Entry courtesy of Encyclopedia of Rusyn History and Culture.
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