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Panama - Coat of Arms

Last modified: 2020-04-18 by rob raeside
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Coat of Arms

Here are an old Coat of Arms and the shield.
Fred Drews, 21 November 1999

From The National coat-of-arms was designed by Mr. Nicanor Villalaz with the help of his brother Sebastián Villalaz. (see here)
Jarig Bakker and Santiago Dotor , 13 December 1999

This image of unclear origin is outdated. Pedersen [ped71], as well as [smi75] and [udk97],  shows NINE STARS above the shield, corresponding to the nine provinces in which the country is divided. There are now also three indigenous districts, including the "Comarca de San Blas", a.k.a. "Kuna Yala" inhabited by the Cunas Indians .
The description of the arms is in [smi75]:
"'For the Benefit of the World' [Pro Mundi Beneficio] proclaims the motto of Panama, referring to the canal which divides the country physically but provides it with a substantial portion of the national income. The arms incorporate other symbols as well. The civil wars of the past, represented by saber and rifle, have given way to the tools of peaceful labour, promising the prosperity and progress symbolized by the cornucopia and winged wheel. The sun and moon both appear in the central panel of the shield to indicate that independence was achieved at the hour of twilight. The green background of the coat of arms (official, but rarely shown) is a reminder of the nation's tropical vegetation."
[udk97] has again a problem with colours: in the image of the arms, the red and blue stars are inversed in regard of the image above and [smi75] image!
Ivan Sache , 26 December 1999

The coat of arms from is incorrect. The coat of arms From is correct. According to (defunct), the coat of arms "was adopted by Law 64 of 4 June of 1904 signed by the President of Assembly Dr Genaro Ortega, and sanctioned by the President of the Republic, Dr Manuel Amador Guerrero..."
"From a careful investigation comes off that the first sketch of the coat of arms, devised by his author, Don Nicanor Villalaz, was drawn by Don Ricardo Miró that in addition to being a poet, was a fan of drawing. The second sketch, from which the cannon and the gun carriage, the sickle and the machete, the handful of ears and the cluster of banana trees were suppressed, and replaced the train for a winged wheel, was painted by professor Max Lemm, German artist resident in Panama....
"The coat of arms approved in 1904, and that since then it was used officially, has the following description:
"It rests on a green field, symbol of the vegetation; it is of pointed form and it is intervened as far as the division. The center shows the Isthmus with its seas and sky, in which the moon begins to rise above the waves and the sun begins to hide behind the mountain, marking thereby the solemn hour of the declaration of our independence. The head is divided in two quarters: in the one of the right hand, in the silver field, a sword and a gun are hung meant as abandonment for always to the civil wars, causes of our ruin; in the one of the left-hand side, and on field of gules, a crossed shovel and a grub hoe are shown shining, to symbolize the work "
"The end of the coat of arms also is divided in two quarters: the one of the right-hand side, in blue field, shows a cornucopia, emblem of the wealth; and the one of the left-hand side, in field of silver, the winged wheel, symbol of the progress. Behind the shield and covering it with his opened wings, is the eagle, emblem of the sovereignty, the head turned towards the left, and takes in the tip a silver tape, which hangs from right to left. On the tape the following motto is printed "Pro Mundi Beneficio "
"On the eagle, in arc form, seven gold stars go in representation of the provinces in which the Republic is divided. Like decorative accessories, to each side of the coat of arms two gathered national flags go on the other hand below"
For thirty-seven years the Coat of Arms of the Republic of Panama was not changed until the Constitution of 1941 was promulgated. The National Assembly dictated in March of this year Law 28 on the Coat of Arms, in which the following reforms were introduced: the saber and the gun are meant as attitude of alert in defense of our sovereignty, in the place of "abandonment to mean good bye to the civil wars ".   311 projects appeared to change the motto and the Jury named to make the selection decided for: "Solo Dios sobre Nosotros" (Only God Above Us). Nevertheless, the National Assembly when approving the Law 28 already referred to, rejected it and preferred the one of "Justice, Honor and Freedom ".  Five years later, in 1946, Panama returned to the old symbol with the well-known motto of "Pro Mundi Beneficio ".
Alvaro Aguilar, 31 August 2001

The National coat of Arms was conceived by Don Nicanor Villalaz, prominent lawyer, but was drawn by his artist brother, Don Sebastian Villalaz. The original canvas bears his signature.
My source for this information is Doņa Carmen Villalaz de Wolff, granddaughter of Don Nicanor Villalaz, niece of Don Sebastian, who witnessed the event personally.
Don Nicanor was one of the key conspirators in the secession from Colombia, along with several others, and risked execution for treason had the conspiracy succeeded, and on his office typewriter the final draft of the declaration of independence from Colombia and proclamation of the new Republic of Panama as a sovereign state, was typed.
My great-grandfather Don Carlos A. Mendoza drafted the declaration, and who tried to  help, with little success, at changing the typewriter ribbon spool when the old one gave out in mid-.”Damn!- the-Colombians-are-coming-revolution!!”
The gentlemen that are mentioned as having drawn the coat of arms for Don Nicanor, as well as the German whom you mentioned as modifying it, are names totally unknown here in Panama, which is not to say that they did not exist here, but it does raise the question regarding how a scarce one hundred years later, no Panamanian has ever heard of them, after performing such valuable services to the country.
Charles F. Brannan-Jaen, 20 July 2009