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Russian Mineral-Resource Sector’s Coat of Arms

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© Форпост Северо-Запад / Горный музей

The term 'coat of arms' can be traced back to the 12th century, with the start of heraldic tradition arising from the Crusades. The crusaders were dealing with the self-identification issues at the time - they needed to know who was the one who accomplished the 'feat' and who was who on a level resembling modern 'friend-or-foe' systems.

By the end of the XIII century, using coats of arms had become commonplace and adopted by public corporations (craft shops, merchant guilds, universities, church institutes) and households (family arms). In the XIV-XV centuries, political entities joined in: cities, territories, counties, concluding with states and state institutions.

History of using symbols is even more ancient. For instance, before becoming an emblem of Byzantium, the double-headed eagle was widely used in the Hittite Empire. It made its way into Russia as a dowry of Sofia Paleologue, wife of Ivan the Great, and turned into a peculiar ideological brand. However, it was not until 1858 that following the decree of Alexander II it was acknowledged the official imperial coat of arms. Two heads of the eagle stood for the unity of the two-part country extending over Europe and Asia.

Almost 50 years later, in 1902, the masters of the Zlatoust Armoury decided that it was 'improper' that the Russian iron-working industry had no arms of its own, and made a promo shield from ironware, which Emperor Nicholas II immediately sent off to the Mining Museum. Nowadays, it is treated almost as if it were the official symbol of Russian mineral-resource sector.

A total of 340 steel and brass pieces embellish the heraldic eagle. The items are mounted onto the shaped wooden shield, covered with grey-green cloth. The plumage - wings and tail - comprises double-edged blades of straight and curved shapes, serving knives and forks. Some blades have inscriptions carved onto them - "1882" and "Zlatoust Armoury". Crowns on eagle's heads, shield upon thorax, sceptre and orb are covered with crimson cloth and lined with brassware - chapes and scabbard carabiners. The rectangular shield on the chest is decorated with a steel character "H II", the sign of Emperor Nicholas II.