Ancient history

Do we know everything about the National Symbols?

We are a few days away from celebrating a new anniversary of the Independence of Peru and, beyond the advertising campaigns that are now dressed in red and white to sell more of their products (from beers to toxic television programs that contribute to the mediocrity of our childhood and youth), we need to remember some details, to define Our identity as Peruvians:Is the rosette a patriotic symbol ? Do we know the elements of our national coat of arms? Do we know how to sing the anthem of our country correctly? Multiple reports, made in a denigrating tone of ridicule, have revealed -in recent times- the enormous ignorance that many young people (and some not so young) have about these and other issues. Let's review then, in a brief and didactic way, our National Symbols .

In which article of our Political Constitution is the National Symbols spoken? :in Title II (Of the State and the Nation), Chapter I (Of the State, the Nation and the Territory), Article 49, second paragraph, says the following:"They are symbols of the country the flag of three vertical stripes with the colors red, white and red, and the coat of arms and the national anthem established by law". In addition, there is Decree Law No. 11323, in force since March 31, 1950, which offers specific indications on the various variants of the flag and shield as well as specific regulations regarding their use.You can download a summary of this law at the following link: pdf

Before telling you some curious facts about each of our Patrionics Symbols , it is important to remember the main line of the aforementioned decree:"The symbols of the homeland they are intangible and must be treated with respect, preference and brilliance in the various civic and other actions ordered by law, and must not, for any reason, be used for wrong purposes or deformed for strange purposes for which they were created". Therefore, it is our obligation as Peruvians to observe them with respect, since they represent our national identity. Particularly in the month of July, we must take care not to place battered, discolored or worn flags in our houses. And not associate it with improper activities that denigrate its value. and meaning.

THE FLAG: the Peruvian flag current -three vertical stripes, two red on the sides and one white in the center- is the fourth in our history, established by decree of don Simón Bolívar on February 25, 1825. The first, created by don José de San Martín , was divided by two diagonal stripes that generated four triangles:two white (upper and lower) and two red (left and right). The origin of the red and white colors, which until today identify our country, has several theories, although definitely the most accepted is the one that tells us that San Martín , recently landed in Paracas , he had a dream in which he saw the flag in the form of a bird from the area, the parihuana, with red wings and a white chest. This tradition was picked up by the Ica writer Abraham Valdelomar in one of his stories. It is also said that Saint Martin He wanted to summarize, in those colors, the independence spirit of South America:red for the Chilean flag and white for the Argentine one. Another theory suggests that red represents the courage and blood shed by our soldiers, while white represents our desire for freedom, social justice and peace.

The Flag has four variants:

  • National Flag: without a shield in the center, used by civilians, which must be hoisted to the top between July 27 and 30, and December 9, by official order. It is the one that all of us place in our homes during National Holidays.
  • National Pavilion: with the Coat of Arms in the center, which must be present (raised and at the top) in all public institutions (political, administrative, military and police), offices, camps, boats, etc., every day, from 8am. until 6 pm.
  • Banner: It is the portable version of the National Pavilion, which can be used by public, civil and religious institutions in ceremonies, commemorative events, conferences, etc.
  • War Flag: with the National Shield in the center, used by the armed institutions, military and police forces.

THE SHIELD: also established in 1825, the coat of arms symbolizes the natural riches s of our country and is composed of the following elements:

  • Civic Crown: It is the doorbell located in the upper part, represented with a closed oak crown. This crown has been used since ancient times, by civilizations such as the Greek and Roman, to symbolize the achievements and successes of a nation. It is very common to find it on statues of ancient emperors, as well as on shields from other countries.
  • Vicuña: On the left side, on a light blue background and looking inwards, we can see the Vicuña, a species from the Andes highly valued for the fine fiber extracted from its wool. This animal, belonging to the auquénidos family, is one of the treasures of our fauna and is currently protected from indiscriminate hunting, an order that Bolívar also ordered. in the first years of our independence. The alpaca is a domesticated version of the vicuña.
  • Cinchona Tree: On the right side and on a white background, we see the Quina tree, which is commonly confused with Quinoa, a popular grain from our Andes. Why is Quina on the Peruvian coat of arms? Because it is a plant whose medicinal use was well known at that time (19th century) and even saved the life of the wife of a viceroy, who suffered from malaria. Unfortunately, cinchona is in the process of extinction and little by little its healing properties have been replaced, so it is not very well known today.
  • Cornucopia: also called the Horn of Plenty, it is another representative symbol of various ancient civilizations. It is located in the lower part, on a red background, spilling coins representing the mineral wealth of Peru. According to the legislation for the use of national symbols, the cornucopia must spill 25 gold coins, for the year of its approval (1825). However, it is very common to see that in modern representations, this fact is simply overlooked and the amount of coins spilled by the cornucopia is indeterminate and copious, exceeding the amount stipulated by law.

There are two variants of the shield:

  • National Shield: that carries on each side a flag and a banner with the national colors. It is used in the War Flag and distinguishes the State.
  • Coat of Arms: It carries a laurel branch on the left side and a palm branch on the right; replaced flags and banners. It appears in the National Pavilion and its portable version, the Banner. In addition, all of us always carry it in our pockets, since it is minted on the front of the coins and banknotes in current circulation, in all their denominations.

THE NATIONAL ANTHEM: It is a musical composition, with epic tones and poetic lyrics, which expresses in its verses the deed of the fight for independence and represents Peru in national and international official ceremonies. It is considered one of the most beautiful hymns in the world.

The version that has survived to this day was the one that won the contest organized by San Martín in 1821, just months after proclaiming the independence of our country. Of seven compositions submitted to the contest, the Argentine liberator chose the musical work of José Bernardo Alcedo with lyrics by José de la Torre Ugarte , and was performed for the first time in September 1821 by Rosa Merino de Arenas , well-known opera singer of that time. Although it is true that the score has undergone slight changes over the years, its musical structure corresponds to the original written by Alcedo.

There are intense debates about the modifications of the National Anthem but the choir and its six stanzas have remained unchanged and ratified by law since 1913. Currently, by order of the Ministry of Education dating from 2010, the chorus and the sixth verse are sung. Even before that date, the second stanza was sung, so there was an information campaign and re-education of the anthem so that the population gets used to singing only the sixth. Read this article about the history of the National Anthem .


Although it is not a true national symbol, its use was also established by the same decree of Bolívar that defined the national flag and coat of arms. It is a symbolic and personal way of carrying the flag, in the form of a round pin. Although there are no regulations on its use, it is already customary to wear it throughout the month of July, on the left side of the chest, close to the heart.