Coat of Arms, Shields, Loja and Ecuador Symbolism

Modern version of the Escudo del Ecuador national emblem
Modern version of the Escudo del Ecuador

Planted in the center of the flags of both Ecuador and Loja are Coats of Arms (Escudos). Each emblem is loaded with symbols that are pertinent to the history of the country and our city so let's explore each.

1830 Escudo del Ecuador historic national emblem
1830 Escudo
The Escudo del Ecuador has changed several times since the first "national" shield was created in 1821 when the country was still part of Gran Columbia. In the 1830 rendition we see the emblem recognize the 'State of Ecuador' in Columbia. It still retains the central elements of the 1821 cornucopias and weapons but adds a sun, stars and zodiac symbols. More importantly, the name 'Ecuador' is added. The new congress of Ecuador wanted to show a continuing relationship with Columbia.

In 1835 the weapons and cornucopias were dropped (along with the reference to Columbia) and replaced by a scene of mountain peaks and condors. Ecuador had now become a Republic instead of a state.

1843 Escudo del Ecuador historic national emblem
1843 Escudo
In 1843 we finally begin to see the coat of Arms take a familiar form to our modern version. A condor has been moved to the top and holds the shield gripped in its claws. Four tri-color flags now hang suspended outside the central shield, and weapons have returned and are again on display. The Roman numerals reference the first articles of Ecuador's constitution, and other symbols of power include a horse, sailing ship and erupting volcano. The entire effect is one that exudes strength which may have been a good thing considering that the country would go to war with Peru, and also have its own civil war, both in 1859.

I guess, then, it is not surprising there would be a new Coat of Arms created in 1860. This one really set the stage for the final 1900 version - the two are extremely similar in design so I'll tell you about the 1900 one, which is still the official Escudo del Ecuador of today.

The elements of Ecuador's national emblem
The elements of Ecuador's national emblem

In October 31, 1900, the Congress adopted the current escudo. Overall still reigns the mighty condor - symbol of bravery and power, but the shield it now grips contains an imaginary landscape featuring the Chimborazo Volcano, the Guayas River, and the first steamboat (also named Guayas) which has a caduceus (symbolizing peace and protection) for a "mast." Across the sky is the sun, representing the ancestors, set into a zodiac with the four signs Aries, Taurus, Gemini and Cancer to represent the March Revolution of 1845 which lasted four months (March to June).

At the base of the shield is a Roman hacha (axe) and fasces consulares (wood wrapping the axe). This ancient symbol dates to the Etruscans and stands for the authority and dignity of a republican council form of leadership. Within the flags will be seen sprigs of laurel (for glory and triumph) and palm leaves (for peace).

All told, the national emblem for the country of Ecuador has changed six times in 200 years. The Coat of Arms for Loja, however, has basically remained the same for 450 years!

Escudo del Loja Ecuador of 1571 Coat of Arms city emblem
Escudo del Loja of 1571

In 1567, King Felipe II of Spain formally declared our city the "Very Noble and Very Loyal City of Loja." Later, on March 5 of 1571 he granted the city its own Coat of Arms, as shown above.

The included elements symbolize victory with the use of the red color, the rivers Malacatos and Zamora which frame the city, and the soldiers of war who conquered the Amazon with strength and vigilance, who marched under the flag emblazoned with the weapons of the Motherland.

The updated version of this Coat of Arms still retains those basic elements but is more modern in style with the motto "Faithful - Loxa (antique spelling of Loja) - Freedom" at the base of the shield.


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