Slavic Pagan symbol, Symbol of Trinity, eagle, or sword? What does the Ukrainian trident represent?
The Ukrainian coat of arms is a trident, or tryzub (три́зуб – три зу́би – three teeth) – a blue shield with a gold trident. This symbol has a long history.
The first known archaeological and historical evidence of this symbol can be found on the seals of the Rurik dynasty. The first tryzubs were found on the gold and silver coins of Prince Volodymyr the Great (980 – 1015), who most probably inherited the symbol from his ancestor Sviatoslav I Ihorevich, who used “bidental” as a dynastic coat of arms. Then Volodymyr’s sons, Sviatopolk I (1015 – 19) and Yaroslav the Wise (1019 – 54), continued using the trident symbol after their father – Volodymyr the Great.
The tryzub became a hereditary heraldic and the symbol of the power of Kyivan Rus. Many examples of the trident are depicted on ceramics, weapons, rings, medallions, seals, and manuscripts.
There are different versions of the origins. One of the most popular hypotheses says that tryzub is most likely a stylized falcon. Depictions of a flying falcon with a Christian cross above its head have been found in Old Ladoha, the first seat of the Kyivan Rurik dynasty.
Сlay molds. At the end of the 10th century. Old Ladoha
Chevron of the Battalion Donbas, 2014
Another version says that tryzub is a cross-anchor. Due to this theory, the basis of the trident is the early Christian symbol of the cross-anchor, which represents Faith and Hope. It appeared on the territory of Ukraine in the first centuries AD, and its origin is connected with the name of St. Clement of Rome, one of the first Christian bishops.
In the coats of arms of Hetman Ivan Mazepa, the main heraldic symbol was the anchor cross.
Coat of arms of Ivan Mazepa
In the early 20th century, due to the Ukrainian national revolution and the formation of the Central Council, there was a revival of ancient historical traditions. Printmakers and artists Heorhii Narbut, Vasil Krychevskyi, and Mykola Bytynskyi created the images of the trident on different state attributes: paper money, coins, state awards, seals, and stamps.
The Great state seal of the Ukrainian People’s Republic based on a sketch by Vasyl Krychevskyi in 1918
In the 1920s, Ukrainians could not imagine any symbol other than the trident. Since then, the trident has united the whole of Ukraine. It has a long history and connects the young state of UNR (Ukrainian People’s Republic) with Kyivan Rus.
Anti-Ukrainian Soviet caricatures depicting a trident
As historians say, the trident was adopted as the Small but not the Great coat of arms as a compromise with the numerous representatives of the communistic party that was against the adaptation of the trident.
The picture by Oleksii Kohan. The winner of the coat of arms contest in 2020