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National personification

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Title: National personification  
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Subject: Allegorical representations of Argentina, Helvetia, Italia turrita, Mother Bengal, Ibu Pertiwi
Collection: Art Genres, Liberty Symbols, National Personifications
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National personification

Britannia arm-in-arm with Uncle Sam symbolizes the British-American alliance in World War I.

A national personification is an anthropomorphism of a nation or its people; it can appear in both editorial cartoons and propaganda.

Some early personifications in the Western world tended to be national manifestations of the majestic wisdom and war goddess Minerva/Athena, and often took the Latin name of the ancient Roman province. Examples of this type include Britannia, Germania, Hibernia, Helvetia and Polonia. Examples of personifications of the Goddess of Liberty include Marianne, the Statue of Liberty, and many examples of United States coinage. Examples of representations of the everyman or citizenry—rather than of the nation itself—are Deutscher Michel and John Bull.[1]

A national personification is not the same as a national animal, although in some cartoons the national animal rather than the human personification is used to represent a country.


  • Personifications by country or territory 1
  • Gallery 2
  • See also 3
  • Further Reading 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Personifications by country or territory

Country Image Personification
 Albania Mother Albania (Nëna Shqipëria)
 Angola Giant sable antelope (palanca-negra)
 Argentina Effigy of the Republic/Liberty/Progress/Fatherland, Gaucho, Martín Fierro
 Armenia Mother Armenia (Mayr Hayastan; lit. "Mother Hayastan")
 Australia Little Boy from Manly
 Austria Austria (personification) and the federal eagle
 Bangladesh Mother Bengal (also known as Bangla Maa); Bengal Tiger.[2]

Joy Bangla (Bengali: জয় বাংলা; meaning "Victory to Bengal") was the slogan and war cry of the Mukti Bahini that fought for the independence of Bangladesh during the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971.[3]

 Belgium La Belgique or Belgica
 Brazil Efígie da República; the Bandeirante (only in São Paulo State); the Candango (in Brasília); the Gaúcho (in Rio Grande do Sul)
 Belarus Rus
 Bulgaria Mother Bulgaria
 Cambodia Preah Thong and Neang Neak
 Canada Mountie, Johnny Canuck, Le Vieux de '37 (French Canada), Adam Dollard des Ormeaux (used during the two World Wars as a military example), Mother Canada (at the Vimy Memorial)
 Chile El Roto, El Huaso, La Carmela, Doña Juanita (an average Chilean woman from the countryside), Moya (a common surname used as N.N.)
 China Chinese dragon, Chinese phoenix, panda, little white rabbit (eg in Year Hare Affair)
 Czech Republic Vaclav Maly -The National Museum in Prague 048 Čechie, Czech Vašek, Double-tailed Czech lion, Svejk.
 Denmark Holger Danske
 Dominican Republic Yania Tierra
 Egypt Mother of the World (Om El Donia)
 El Salvador Monumento al Divino Salvador del Mundo
 Europe Europa or Europa regina
 Finland Finnish Maiden (Suomi-neito)
 France Marianne, Gallic rooster
 Georgia Georgia: (Kartvlis Deda)
 Germany Germany: Germania, Arminius (Hermann der Cherusker), Deutscher Michel

Bavaria: Bavaria, Berlin: Berolina, Brunswick: Brunonia, Franconia: Franconia, Hamburg: Hammonia, Prussia: Borussia, Palatinate: Palatia, Saxony: Saxonia

 Greece Athena, "Greece" by Delacroix
 Haiti Ezili Dantor
 Iceland The Lady of the Mountains (Fjallkonan)
 India Bharat Mata ("Mother India"), earlier the goddess Durga. Also the Tiger or the Indian Elephant is used to personify the nation. But strictly speaking of National Personification, the figure of Bharat Mata as a Goddess, wearing a white or saffron sari, holding the National flag, and having a Lion as her Vahana is the most widely popular Personification. The battle cry, "Bharat Mata ki Jai" (Victory for Mother India) is used by the Indian Army and is one of the most popular patriotic slogan used in India.
 Indonesia Ibu Pertiwi
 Iran Cyrus the Great
 Ireland Ériu, Banba, Fódla, Kathleen Ni Houlihan, Hibernia, Scotia,[4] Granuaile, The Old Woman of Beare [5]
 Israel King David, Srulik
 Italy Italia Turrita
 Japan Amaterasu Omikami
 Korea Dangun
 Macedonia Mother Macedonia[6][7]
 Malaysia Harimau Malya
 Malta Melita
 Mexico El Charro, La China Poblana, el Pelado, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Tonatiuh
 Mongolia Genghis Khan
 Netherlands de Nederlandse Maagd` ("The Dutch Maiden"), De Leeuw van Oranje, Hans Brinker (outside the Netherlands), (Zeeland: Zeeuws Meisje)
 New England Brother Jonathan, Puritan, Pine tree.
 New Zealand Kiwi, Zealandia, Southern man (for the South Island)
 Norway Mother Norway, Ola Nordmann, Kari Nordmann, hist. Nór
 Pakistan Mumlikat-e-Khudadad ('God-given State')
 Palestine Handala
 Peru The chalán, La Madre Patria
 Philippines Juan dela Cruz, Ináng Bayan/Filipinas, Luzviminda
 Poland Polonia, Lech,
 Portugal Zé Povinho, Eu nacional (National Self), Lusitania (Ancient Roman Province consisting of what is mainly Portugal now), Republic effigy, Rooster of Barcelos, Guardian Angel of Portugal
 Romania România
 Russia Mother Russia/Mother Motherland, Rus, Russian Bear
 Scotland Caledonia, Jock Tamson, Scotia, Cailleach
 Serbia Mother Serbia, Kosovo Maiden,
 Singapore The Merlion
 Slovakia Jánošík
 Slovenia Kranjski Janez ("John from Carniola", an average man from Slovenia's central region), Peter Klepec
 Spain Hispania
 Sweden Mother Svea
  Switzerland Helvetia
 Ukraine Cossack Mamay, Rus
 United Kingdom Britannia, John Bull, Lion, Bulldog
 United States Uncle Sam (government personification), Statue of Liberty as Lady Liberty, Columbia, Johnny Rebel (The South, obsolete), Billy Yank (The North, obsolete), Bald eagle
 Wales Dame Wales, Deffroad Cymru, the Awakening of Wales, Welsh Dragon


1914 poster showing Marianne, Mother Russia and Britannia, the "Triple Entente" allies in the first World War (1914).. 
Columbia, personification of the United States (World War I patriotic poster) 
French Marianne « Freedom for France, freedom for the French » (1940). 
A print from the 1940's, During the Independence Movement, showing Mahatma Gandhi in the lap of Bharat Mata
Germania representing Germany, in a painting by Phillip Veit from 1848. 
Allegory of the Second Spanish Republic, Hispania embracing French Marianne (1931). 
Bharat Mata, the personification of India as a mother goddess. Painting by Abanindranath Tagore, 1905 
Eugène Delacroix, Greece Expiring on the Ruins of Missolonghi (1827) 
Theodoros Vryzakis' depiction of Hellas as a woman surrounded by rebels of the Greek War of Independence 
España y Filipinas, 1886 painting by Juan Luna. Depicts the reformist view of the relationship between the Philippines and "Mother Spain
Italia and Germania by Friedrich Overbeck, symbolising the friendship between Germany and Italy 
Norway, Denmark and Sweden joining hands in a 19th Century poster 
Statue of Mother Svea representing Sweden on a building in Stockholm
World War I recruiting poster featuring John Bull
Gold Coated Statue of Bharat Mata
Brazilian Constitutionalist Revolution recruiting poster, showing a Bandeirante with the dictator of Brazil, Getúlio Vargas, in his hand. 
Allegory drawing depicting the friendship between the Argentine Republic and the newly formed Brazilian Republic
Zé Povinho, caricature of a Portuguese working class man of the 19th century 
In this 1806 French print, the woman with the Menorah represents the Jews being emancipated by Napoleon Bonaparte 
James Gillray's cartoon on the 1803 Peace of Amiens, features a fat and non-martial Britannia kissing "Citizen François", a personifiaction of Revolutionary France 
Revolutionary Romania. Painting by C. D. Rosenthal, made in Paris exile in the early 1850s 
Romania Breaking off Her Chains on the Field of Liberty, also by C. D. Rosenthal 
A later depiction of Romania as a helpless woman threatened by the brutal Germany in a World War I French caricature 
Uncle Sam in a U.S. Army recruitment poster used in both World War I and World War II 
The figures in this late 18th century painting by Shiba Kōkan represent Japan, China, and the West. 
Columbia, America personified as a young woman holding up a Phrygian cap on a clipper ship card of the Young America Movement 
Polonia (Poland), by Jan Matejko, painted after the failure of the 1863 January Uprising
Lady of the mountain in Iceland. 
Cossack Mamay, personification of Ukraine and Ukrainians
Peru (left), Argentina (centre) and Chile (right), personified at the Mausoleum of General San Martín, Buenos Aires
Free Bulgaria; lithography by Georgi Danchov 
17th century map by Frederik de Wit showing mythological Europa as the continent's personification 
"Mrs. Britannia" and her daughter "Miss Canada" discussing "Cousin Jonathan"(the US) in an 1886 political cartoon. 
John Bull, a national personification of the United Kingdom holds the head of Napoleon I of France in an 1803 caricature by James Gillray
Albanian caricature from 1913 shows Albania as a woman defending herself from beasts representing neighboring countries seeking at the time to divide Albania's territory between them: Montenegro (monkey), Greece (leopard) and Serbia (snake), saying: "Get away from me! Bloodsucking beasts!" 
The woman on the right, holding out a letter of thanks to the enthroned Jonathan Swift, represents Ireland (from the 1735 edition of Swift's works). 
Bavaria, an early 19th-century statue made when Bavaria was a fully sovereign Kingdom with a considerable national pride 
Political cartoon depicting the tangled web of European alliances in the 1870's, with France being conspicuously isolated. 
In this Belarusian caricature commenting on the 1921 Peace of Riga, Russian Bolsheviks (right) and Nationalist Poles (left) are dividing the territory of Belarus. 
In a 1897 political cartoon, Uncle Sam lays claim to Hawaii and warns off the figures representing Japan, Britain and France. 
The goddess Roma was perceived as a personification of the city of Rome and more broadly, the Roman Empire
In this cartoon of "Canada's debut at the Council of Nations", the young Canada is under the tutelage of the motherly Britania, Columbia extends welcoming hands, surrounded by figures representing other major nations. 
A 1904 French postcard showing Britannia and Marianne dancing together, symbolizing the newborn Entente Cordiale between the two countries. Britannia appears here younger than in most British depictions - a girl rather than a mother. 
Statue of "Mother Canada", mourning the fallen Canadian soldiers of World War I, in the Vimy Memorial

See also

Further Reading

Lionel Gossman. "Making of a Romantic Icon: The Religious Context of Friedrich Overbeck's 'Italia und Germania.'" American Philosophical Society, 2007. ISBN 0-87169-975-3. [2]


  1. ^ Eric Hobsbawm, "Mass-Producing Traditions: Europe, 1870-1914," in Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger, eds., The Invention of Tradition (Cambridge, 1983), 263-307.
  2. ^ "NATIONAL SYMBOLS". Bangladesh Tourism Board. Bangladesh: Ministry of Civil Aviation & Tourism. 
  3. ^ Ahmed, Salahuddin (2004). Bangladesh: Past and Present. APH Publishing. p. 310.  
  4. ^ O'Clery, M. (2003) Annals of Ireland by the Four Masters as translated into English
  5. ^ O'Rourke Murphy, M. & MacKillop, J. (2006). An Irish Literature Reader: Poetry, Prose, Drama.
  6. ^ "A Manifesto from the Provisional Government of Macedonia". 1881. Our mother Macedonia became now as a widow, lonely and deserted by her sons. She does not fly the banner of the victorious Macedonian army 
  7. ^ Bulgarian graphic representation of Bulgaria, East Rumelia and Macedonia

External links

  • A scholarly case study of the evolution of Deutscher Michel
  • Kirsten Stirling: "The Image of the Nation as a Woman in Twentieth Century Scottish Literature"
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