National personification

A national personification is an anthropomorphic personification of a state or the people(s) it inhabits. It may appear in political cartoons and propaganda.

Britannia arm-in-arm with Uncle Sam symbolizes the British-American alliance in World War I.
Iudaea Capta, "Conquered Judaea", commemorative coin issued by the Roman emperor Vespasian (left) after the Jewish War
An early example of National personification in a gospel book dated 990: Sclavinia, Germania, Gallia, and Roma, bringing offerings to Emperor Otto III.
In this Allegory depicting the 1576 Pacification of Ghent by Adriaen Pietersz van de Venne, the seated women represent a short-lived unity among the embattled provinces of what would become the present-day Belgium and Netherlands
1909 cartoon in Puck shows (clockwise) US, Germany, Britain, France and Japan engaged in naval race in a "no limit" game.

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 (Liberty Enlightening the World), and many examples of United States coinage. Another ancient model was Roma, a female deity who personified the city of Rome and more broadly, the Roman state, and who was revived in the 20th Century as the personification of Mussolini's "New Roman Empire". Examples of representations of the everyman or citizenry in addition to the nation itself are Deutscher Michel, John Bull and Uncle Sam.[1]

Personifications by country or territory

Location Image Personification Animal used for the same purpose
 Albania Mother Albania (Nëna Shqipëria)
The Americas Personification of the Americas
 Argentina Effigy of the Republic/Liberty/Progress/Fatherland, Gaucho
 Armenia Mother Armenia (Mayr Hayastan; lit. "Mother Hayastan")
 Australia Little Boy from Manly Boxing kangaroo
 Austria Austria (Personification)
 Bangladesh Bangamata (lit. Mother Bengal).[2] Bengal tiger[3]
 Belgium La Belgique or Belgica. Leo Belgicus
 Brazil Efígie da República; the Bandeirante (only in São Paulo State and Minas Gerais); the "Tropeiro" (in Minas Gerais); the Candango (in Brasília); the Gaúcho (in Rio Grande do Sul);
 Bulgaria Mother Bulgaria
 Cambodia Preah Thong and Neang Neak
 Canada Mountie,[4] Johnny Canuck,[5] Le Vieux de '37 (French Canada), Canada Bereft also known as Mother Canada (at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial). Canada was often personified as a young woman in 19th and early 20th century editorial cartoons, called simply '"Canada," "Miss Canada,'" or sometimes "Mother Canada"[6] Canadian beaver
 Chile El Roto, El Huaso, Doña Juanita (an average Chilean woman from the countryside)
 China and  Taiwan Jade Emperor Chinese dragon
 Colombia Juan Valdez
 Croatia Mother Croatia (Mati Hrvatska)
 Czechia Čechie, Czech Vašek, Svejk. double-tailed Czech lion
 Denmark Holger Danske, Mor Danmark
 Dominican Republic Conchoprimo
 Egypt Mother of the World (Om El Donia)
 European Union Europa or Europa regina Zeus as a white bull
 Finland Finnish Maiden (Suomi-neito)
 France Marianne Gallic rooster
 Georgia Georgia: "Mother of a Georgian" (Kartlis Deda)
 Germany Germany: Germania, Deutscher Michel

Bavaria: Bavaria, Berlin: Berolina, Bremen: Brema (de), Brunswick: Brunonia (de), Franconia: Franconia (de), Frankfurt: Francofurtia (de), Hamburg: Hammonia, Prussia: Borussia (de), Palatinate: Palatia, Saxony: Saxonia (de)

Reichsadler, Bundesadler
Regional: Berliner Bär, Bavarian Lion, Marcher Eagle (Brandenburg), Prussian Eagle
 Greece Hellas
 Haiti Ezili Dantor, Katrin (based on the real life Haitian hero, Catherine Flon)
 Hungary The Lady of Hungaria
 Iceland The Lady of the Mountains (Fjallkonan)
 India Bharat Mata ("Mother India") Bengal tiger, Indian elephant
 Indonesia Ibu Pertiwi Garuda Pancasila
 Iran,  Afghanistan and  Tajikistan Rostam[7][8][9] Lion and sun
 Ireland Ériu, Banba, Fódla, Kathleen Ni Houlihan, Hibernia, The Old Woman of Beare[10]
 Israel Srulik
 Italy Italia Turrita, Roma Italian wolf
 Japan Amaterasu, Emperor Jimmu Green Pheasant, Koi
 Kenya Wanjiku
Korea ( North Korea and  South Korea - despite mutual enmity, both states lay claim to the same historical heritage) Dangun, Ungnyeo, Yangban Korean Tiger, Chollima
 Kyrgyzstan Manas
 Latvia Milda
 Lithuania Vytautas
Low Lands or Benelux (Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg) Leo Belgicus
 Malaysia Hang Tuah[11][12] Malayan tiger[13]
 Malta Melita
 Mexico Alegoría de la Patria Mexicana (es), La China Poblana Golden eagle
 Morocco Barbary Lion
 Montenegro Fairy of Lovćen, Mother Montenegro
 Netherlands Dutch Maiden Dutch Republic Lion, Leo Belgicus
 New Zealand Zealandia[14] Kiwi
 North Macedonia Mother Macedonia[15][16]
 Norway Mother Norway [no], stereotyp. Ola Nordmann & Kari Nordmann, hist. Nór
 Palestine Handala
 Peru Libertad also known as Madre Patria (Allegory of the Peruvian Motherland) Vicuña
Ináng Bayan, Filipinas, Juan dela Cruz Philippine Carabao
 Poland Polonia White eagle
 Portugal Zé Povinho, Eu nacional (National Self), Republic effigy, Guardian Angel of Portugal
 Romania Romania Moderna
 Russia Mother Russia/Mother Motherland Russian bear
 Serbia Mother Serbia, Kosovo Maiden
 Singapore Merlion
 Slovakia Jánošík
 Slovenia Kralj Matjaž ("King Matjaž", a legendary king in Slovenia and some other nations), Peter Klepec[citation needed]
 Spain Hispania Hispanic Lion
 Sri Lanka Sri Lanka Matha
 Suriname Mama Sranan (Mother Suriname), a 1965 sculpture by Jozeph Klas in the center of Paramaribo, of a mother figure holding five children representing Suriname's ethnic groups in her arms.[17]
 Sweden Mother Svea
  Switzerland Helvetia
 Thailand Siam Devadhiraj (พระสยามเทวาธิราช "The Guardian Angel of Siam") White elephant
 Ukraine Cossack Mamay
 United Kingdom Britannia (United Kingdom), John Bull (England), Dame Wales (Wales) The Lion and the Unicorn (England and Scotland), Bulldog (United Kingdom), Welsh dragon (Wales)
 United States Uncle Sam (government personification), Lady Liberty, Columbia, Johnny Reb (The South, obsolete), Billy Yank (The North, obsolete), Brother Jonathan (New England, obsolete) Bald Eagle, Timber rattlesnake (American Revolution, obsolete)
 Uruguay Personification of Uruguay
 Vietnam The Four Immortals, Hùng King

See also


  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. Ahmed, Salahuddin (2004). Bangladesh: Past and Present. APH Publishing. p. 310. ISBN 8176484695. Retrieved July 11, 2012.
  3. "NATIONAL SYMBOLS". Bangladesh Tourism Board. Bangladesh: Ministry of Civil Aviation & Tourism. Archived from the original on 2016-12-28. Retrieved 2015-09-10.
  4. McGill, Robert (2017). War Is Here: The Vietnam War and Canadian Literature. McGill-Queen's Press. p. 37. ISBN 9780773551589. Retrieved 17 May 2019.
  5. Barber, Katherine (2007). Only in Canada You Say: A Treasury of Canadian Language. Oxford University Press Canada. p. 70. ISBN 9780195427073.
  6. "Library and Archives Canada".
  8. Dallmayr, Fred (25 August 1999). Border Crossings: Toward a Comparative Political Theory. ISBN 9780739152546.
  10. O'Rourke Murphy, M. & MacKillop, J. (2006). An Irish Literature Reader: Poetry, Prose, Drama.
  11. Liok Ee Tan (1988). The Rhetoric of Bangsa and Minzu. Monash Asia Institute. p. 14. ISBN 978-0-86746-909-7.
  12. Melanie Chew (1999). The Presidential Notes: A biography of President Yusof bin Ishak. Singapore: SNP Publications. p. 78. ISBN 978-981-4032-48-3.
  13. Minahan, James B. (2009). The Complete Guide to National Symbols and Emblems. Greenwood. p. 101. ISBN 978-0313344961.
  15. "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 Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  16. Bulgarian graphic representation of Bulgaria, East Rumelia and North Macedonia
  17. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-04-14. Retrieved 2016-03-30.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

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.