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The Bündner Coat of Arms


Description of the coat of arms of the District

Per Fess: 1. Per pale Sable and Argent; 2 Quarterly Azure and Or a cross quarterly counterchanged; 3 Argent a  Capricorn Sable [1]


The current representation of the Graubünden coat of arms was determined by the Kleiner Rath (Today: Government) with a resolution of 8 November 1932 and approved by the Federal Council in February 1933. Until then, since the canton was founded in 1803, the official Graubünden coat of arms consisted of the coats of arms of the three individual leagues, the Upper or Gray League, the Church of God Association and the Ten Courts Association. They were shown either alone or together with the supporters St. Georg (Upper Bund) and Wilder Mann (League of the Ten Jurisdictions).


The coats of arms of the three Bünde

The first surviving coats of arms of the Upper or Gray League from the end of the 15th and beginning of the 16th century either represent a continuous white cross in red or show a square shield in gray and white, sometimes confused with a square cross Colours. Later, in addition to these representations, the current split shield in gray or black and white became popular.


The Capricorn is the emblem of the Church of God. A first depiction in the Chur cathedral dates from 1252. The ibex appears for the first time as a heraldic animal on a document from 1291 and on the seals of the bishops Johannes I. Pfefferhard around 1325 and Ulrich V. Ribi around 1331. This originally episcopal coat of arms is from 1367 founded Church Association has been taken over.


The first seal of the Ten Courts League dates from 1518 and shows a continuous white cross. In order to better distinguish the coats of arms of the Ten Courts League and the Upper League, the Wild Man was often included in the shield of the Ten Courts League coat of arms. The colors gold and blue are already handed down on a coat of arms disk from 1548



Two Seals of the Grey League, 1706. [2])


Left:  Arms: Parted per pale. Standing behind the shield St. George and the Dragon. L.: SIGILLUM • GRAW / PUNTT  IS • S. (Grauer Bund)

Right: Arms: A cross gyronny. Standing behind the shield a savage, in his dexter a banner with the cross of the arms, in his sinister a pinetree eradicated. L:  X / SIGILLUM • DES • GER[…]  TZN • PUNDTS / I  (Zehngerichtenbund)


Obverse of the silver boxes of both seals.

Three coats of arms below a crown: 1.Grauer Bund; 2. Gotteshausbund; 3. Zehngerichtenbund. In base: 1706.



The three coats of arms of the Grey League.

as shown on the gate of Ilanz, 1717.


Late 19th century seal of the armed forces.

The three coats of arms in alliance under a crown. Below crossed cannons. L.: MILITAIR COMMISSION CANTON GRAUBUNDEN.  FVR GOT U VATERLA:



Allied shields and supporters of the Grey League after 1803.

used until 1932



The coat of arms of Graubünden, 1931/´32.

The shield tierced pallwise reversed, the first per pale Argent and Sable.





 Graubünden is an association between three different Bünden (local assemblies) who merged in the 15th century, but each had its own seals and jurisdiction until 1799. The three Bünden were the Obere or Graue Bund, the Gotteshausbund and the Zehngerichtenbund.

The Obere or Graue Bund used many different arms alongside from the 15th until the 19th century. One series of arms only showed a cross, either a normal cross, or a quartered cross. Many different variations in colours are known, such as red on white, quartered black and white etc. The second arms show a divided shield of black and silver. These were also shown on the official display of arms from 1548, see below.


Seals of the Obere Bund, 1500 and 1505


Arms of the Obere Bund, 1548


The Gotteshausbund took already in the 13th century the ibex from the arms of the diocese of Chur. Unlike the arms of the Obere Bund, these arms never changed during the centuries.

Seal of the Gotteshausbund, 1529


Arms of the Gotteshausbund, 1548


The Zehngerichtenbund used a seal since 1518, which showed a normal cross. The shield was held from behind by a savage. The colours are known since 1548 as a silver cross in blue (see below). At the time two savages acted as supporters. In 1564 the cross was shown in gold, like in 1643. In 1643 the gold and blue cross became quartered. These arms remained in use until the late 18th century. However, two variations have been used in which the arms were divided, with in the first half the cross, and in the second a savage, or opposite, with the cross in the second half.

Seal of the Zehngerichtenbund, 1524


Arms of the Zehngerichtenbund, 1548


Although the three Bünde had officially merged, the arms were not combined into one shield. During the centuries the arms were always showed beside each other, like in the image below, in every possible combination of the variations of the individual arms. Only sometimes in less official use, as in books or medals, the arms were combined, see below.


Arms of the 3 Bünde as shown on the gate of Ilanz from 1717.


Combined arms of the 3 Bünde as shown on a medal of 1546.


Combined arms of the 3 Bünde as shown on a painting of 1641.


In 1803 Graubünden joined the Swiss Federation and in the same year the arms were combined in a single shield. The first upper quarter showed a divided shield for the Obere Bund, the second a quartered cross for the Zehngerichtenbund and in the lower half the ibex for the Gotteshausbund. These arms were nearly identical to the present arms as shown above. Behind the shield appeared the three supporters of the individual arms; St. George for the Obere bund, St. Mary for the Gotteshausbund and the savage for the Zehngerichtenbund.


Arms of the kanton in 1803.


The arms became quite popular, even though the council was not so satisfied with the design.


In 1860 the Swiss government in Bern ordered stained glass windows with the arms of all kantons at the time. The arms were drawn by a Bernese artist, who did not know about the new arms in the kanton. Unfortunately the local Graubünden representative did not notice, and thus another combination of the three old arms, including supporters, all in one shield, became the second official arms of the canton...

Second official arms of the kanton until 1932.


To complicate things, there was another variation, which was officially used by the kanton, for example on coins. Here the divided shield of the Obere Bund was replaced by cross and the cross for the Zehngerichtenbund was replaced by the arms with cross and savage.

 Late 19th century seal of the armed forces.

The three coats of arms in alliance under a crown. Below crossed cannons. L.: MILITAIR COMMISSION CANTON GRAUBUNDEN.  FVR GOT U VATERLA:


At the end of the 19th century the local council discussed again about the arms, and the design of 1803 and a variation on these with a shield divided in three equal parts (see below) were the most popular.

Main and second proposal 1931/2


However, it took until 1932 before the council finally decided on the arms. It was decided to use the arms without supporters form 1803, but to change the colours of the first quarter, as in the historical arms the black and white fields were placed in the opposite fields. These arms have remained in use since.


Standescheibe 1979-1981


Literature : Mühlmann, L. : Wappen und Fahnen der Schweiz, Bühler Verlag, Lengnau, 1977 and 1997; Wappenbuch des Kantons Graubünden, 1982



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 © Hubert de Vries 2021-02-12




[1] Eine ausführliche Darstellung des Wappens des Kantons Graubünden und seiner historischen Entwicklung aus der Feder von Rudolf Jenny findet sich im Wappenbuch des Kantons Graubünden, herausgegeben durch die Standeskanzlei Graubünden, Chur, 1982.

[2] Il Sigillo nella Storia e nella cultura. Roma, 1985, p. 17- 19. ASV, Atti diplomatici e privati , b. 77, n. 2190. Bibl.: G. Giacosa - M. Olivari, I rapporti tra Venezia e la Svizzera documentati attraverso le medaglie, estr. da «medaglia», n. 19, pp. 6-44.

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