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Armed Forces





The Government of Rio de la Plata was created on 21 March 1534 by a treaty between Pedro de Mendoza and the Spanish Crown. It was better known as the Government of Paraguay with Asunción as its capital, the city being founded in 1537 by Juan de Salazar y Espinosa.

In 1617 the Government was divided into the Government of Paraguay or of Guayrá and the Government of Rio de la Plata or of Buenos Aires.

Paraguay was a part of the vice kingdom of Peru until 1776 when it became a part of the vice kingdom of Rio de la Plata then created. It became the district of Asunción of Paraguay (Intendencia de Asunción del Paraguay) by Royal Order of the Supervisors of the Army and Province of 28 January 1782 which divided the vice kingdom in eight districts.

By a bloodless revolution, the independence of Paraguay from Spain was achieved on the 14 May, 1811, following a movement that had been started in May of the preceding year in Buenos Aires.






Asunción, the capital of Paraguay, is one of the oldest cities in South America and because of that it is known as “The Mother of Cities”.

The site of the city may have been first visited by Spanish conqueror Juan de Ayolas, on his way north, up the Paraguay River, looking for a passage to the mines of Alto Perú (present-day Bolivia). Later, Juan de Salazar y Espinosa (†1560) and Gonzalo de Mendoza, were sent in search of Ayolas, but were unable to find him. On his way up and then down the river, de Salazar found the natives friendly, and decided in August, 1537 to found a fort there. He named it Nuestra Señora Santa María de la Asunción.


On 16 October 1600 the members of the City Council of Asunción were in session. Amongst other things they in particular deliberated about the seals and arms which the city should take as its emblems and they chose for a crowned lion and a river representing the Rio de la Plata, which was  then adopted as the first arms of the city. [1]

However, no picture of such a coat of arms has been preserved. Pictures of 18th century arms of Asunción show a coat of arms quarterly:


18th century versions of the arms of Ascension.[2]


Arms: Quarterly: 1. Argent S. Maria of Ascension rising from a claud, proper; 2. Or, Bishop S. Blas, proper; 3. Gules, the castle of Castile, Or; 4. Azure, on a base Vert, a palmtree on dexter the and a lion sejant guardant on the sinister, proper.


Arms of Asunción, 18th century




In all administrative colleges of the spanish settlements in the Americas the heraldic emblems of Spain were displayed. In Asunción a tapestry of the royal arms hung in the Council Chamber. It was probably used by the Government of Paraguay (1534-1782). For the later Government and the Intendencia or District of Paraguay one would expect the arms of the Bourbon kings.


Arms of the King of Spain, 1580-1700

In the replica of the Chamber of the ancient City Council of Asunción.

 Copy woven by the Royal Weaving Mill of Madrid, 1800. [3].


In the days and months after the declaration of independence several flags were proposed for the new republic but a last proposal, showing a flag of three stripes red, white and blue (the colors of the french and dutch tricolore) was adopted on 15 August 1812. This flag has not changed since then.





Flag of 18 May 1811

Flag of 16 June 1811

Flag of  15 August 1811

Another flag of 1811

Flag of 1812

Flag of 15 August 1812




On 30 September 1812 the Suprem Congress adopted a national emblem without however describing it. After 1820 there appeared a seal on official documents. It was created by José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia (†1840) and consisted of a six-pointed star and a palm leaf and an olive branch in saltire in base. It was surrounded by a legend reading REPUBLICA Ð PARAGUAY separated by crescents.


Seal of the Republic, 1837 ca

Seal of the Treasury, 1840 ca


At about the same time the seal of the Treasury (Hacienda) appeared. This showed a pole crested with a phrygian cap radiant and a lion sejant guardant in base, between the motto PAZ Y JUSTICIA (Peace and Justice) and surrounded by the legend REPUBLICA DEL PARAGUAY, itself surrounded by a garland of laurel.

This seal seems to have been inspired by the fourth quarter of the arms of Asuncion.


On 25 November 1842, under the consulate of Carlos Antonio López (1841-’44) an Extraordinary General Congress adopted a law about the national flag and heraldic symbols of Paraguay. The first article of the Law reads:

“manda y ordena que el Pabellón de la República sea el mismo que hasta aquí ha tenido la Nación con las variaciones convenientes, esto es, una bandera compuesta de tres fajas horizontales, colorada, blanca y azul. De un lado el Escudo Nacional con una Palma y una Oliva entrelazadas en el vértice y abiertas en la superficie, resaltando en el medio de ella una Estrella. En la orla una inscripción distribuida que dice: ’República del Paraguay’. En el lado opuesto un círculo con la inscripción ‘Paz y Justicia’ y en el centro un león en la base del símbolo de la libertad”.


That is:

[The Extraoridinary General Congress] commands and decrees that the Flag of the Republic will be the same that was used by the Nation in several convenient versions, that is, a flag composed of three horizontal stripes, red, white and blue. On one side the National Arms with a palm leaf and an olive branch tied together below and opened around a field with a Star in the middle. And in orle an inscription reading ‘República del Paraguay’. On the other side a disc inscribed “Paz y Justicia” and in the middle a lion below the symbol of liberty”.


From the first few years after the adoption of the national seal no pictures are available. On coins and in the head of the Government Gazette the ‘El Paraguayo Independiente’ the seal of the Treasury was used.

1/12 Real, 1845


Under the presidency of Carlos Antonio Lopez (1844-’62), coins were struck on which the garland- and-star were replaced by a sitting Justitia, the emblem of the Hacienda remaining the same.



Paraguayan coin, 1854-‘68


His preference for the seal of the Treasury above the National seal is also demonstrated by his  presidential sash which consisted of a broad red-white and blue ribbon with the seal of the Treasury in the middle.

Carlos Antonio Lopez wearing the Presidential sash.


The sitting Justitia however was soon abandoned:



Paraguayan Peso struck after 1868


In the fifties of the 20th century the national seal showed the star in a blue sky and a brown ground below.

The seal of the treasury showed the lion sitting on a brown ground and a blue sky above.




In the Constitution of 25 August 1967 the national symbols were described again but still no picture was added. The section about the National Symbols read:


Art. 4°.- Los símbolos de la Patria, son:

1) El Pabellón de la República consistente en una bandera compuesta de tres franjas horizontales iguales: colorada, blanca y azul, llevando de un lado, en el medio, el Escudo Nacional, de forma circular, que se describe como una palma y una oliva entrelazadas en el vértice y abiertas en la parte superior, resaltando en medio de ellas una estrella y en la orla, una inscripción distribuída que dice “República del Paraguay”; y en el reverso, y en la misma posición, un círculo con la inscripción distribuída: “Paz y Justicia”, figurando en el centro un león en la base del símbolo de la libertad;

2) El Sello Nacional, que reproduce el escudo primeramente descrito;

3) El Sello de Hacienda, que reproduce el escudo del reverso del Pabellón, más la descrip-ción que dice: “República del Paraguay”, en la orla;

4) El Himno Nacional, cuyo coro comienza con la frase: “Paraguayos, República o Muerte”.

5) La composición musical “Campamento Cerro León”.

La ley reglamentará las características de los símbolos de la Patria, en cuanto no estén previstas en la resolución del Congreso General Extraordinario del 25 de noviembre de 1842, y determinará su uso.


The seals of the Nation and the Treasury after 1967


By The National Constitution of Paraguay of 1992 the Constitution of 1967 was abolished and the section about the national symbols rewritten:


Constitucion 1992


Artículo 139 - DE LOS SIMBOLOS

Son símbolos de la República del Paraguay:

1. el pabellón de la República;

2. el sello nacional, y

3. el himno nacional.

La ley reglamentará las características de los símbolos de la República no previstos en la resolución del Congreso General Extraordinario del 25 de noviembre de 1942, y determinando su uso.


The National seal shows:

Seal: A disc Argent, Azure, a five-pointed star Or surrounded by a crown of a palm leaf and a branch of olive proper. Surrounded by a ring Gules, charged with the motto REPUBLICA DEL PARAGUAY  Or.


The seal of the Treasury shows:

Seal: A disc Argent, a pole crested with a phrygian cap Gules and a lion sejant to the sinister Or. And in chief a listel Gules in orle charged with the motto PAZ Y JUSTICIA Or.


Æ See these national symbols in the head of this essay.




Even when the emblems on the flag did not change, at the end of the 19th century a coat of arms or national emblem was made by combining the national seal and the seal of the Hacienda. This (unofficial) national emblem showed the lion-and-palmtree on a blue field, the shield crested with the star radiant of the national seal and surrounded by the garland of the same. Other versions show this emblem supported by four national flags.

National Achievement, end of 19th century.[4]


National Achievement, beginning of 20th century


Such achievements are known from European sources until the beginning of WW II.


Another national symbol may be interpreted as the emblem of the armed forces. This was printed on banknotes. It is:


Bank note, 1907


Arms: Azure, a five pointed star Or.

Crest: A rising sun

Garland: A crown of branches of oak and olive.

Supporters: Six national flags and two cannon in saltire.


At the adoption of a new Constitution the opportunity was not taken to adopt a national achievement.




Almost from the beginning the President of the Republic wore a presidential sash as a badge of his function. This replaced the royal crown which the spanish kings had borne as a badge of their royal authority. The sash consisted of a broad ribbon in the national colors of 1842, at first charged with the Seal of the Treasury but, beginning with the presidency of his son and successor Francisco Solano Lopez (1862-‘69), with the national seal, be it all in gold embroidery or in full color.

A presidential flag is known from the presidency of Alfredo Stroessner but may have been introduced by one of his predecessors. It shows the national seal between four yellow five-pointed stars on a dark blue cloth (1:2).


Presidential flag of Alfredo Stroessner, 1954-‘89




Armed Forces




Founded 1811








Founded 1850





Air Force


Founded 6 November 1920






Wings ancient and modern


File:Roundel of Paraguay.svg





Founded 8 March 1843


The arms shows a five-pointed star on the map of Paraguay, charged with a cock, surrounded by a crown of oak-leaves.





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© Hubert de Vries 2013-04-08


[1] Centro Cultural de la Ciudad Manzana  de la Rivera,

[2] Ibid.

[3] Casa de la Independencia Asuncion

[4] Heyer von Rosenfeld, Friedrich: Die Staatswappen der bekanntesten Länder der Erde. Frankfurt a/Main, 1895.

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