House coats of arms in Latvia – a unique publication in preparation

Recently the project team has begun to work on the project of a unique book – “House Coats of Arms in Modern Latvia”.

Since 2005, when the Parliament of Latvia adopted the Law on Coats of Arms, establishing that coats of arms of natural persons may be approved alongside coats of arms of local authorities, the interest in the formation of family coat of arms has increased significantly. Family coat of arms has already been registered by Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga, Justs Karlsons, Māris Gailis, Klāvs Radziņš, Valdis Garoza, Ivars Jakovels, Valters Kronbergs, Uldis Pumpurs, as well as the Stradiņi, Bīriņi, Grēviņi and other families.

On June 30, at the Conference Centre of the National Library of Latvia more than 70 representatives of Latvian families in possession of their own family coat of arms met for the first time. The event was also attended by creators and scientific advisers of the upcoming book edition – the ex-president of Latvia Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga, artist Laimonis Šēnbergs, DSc(Hist) Armands Vijups, PhD Daina Teters, as well as supporters of the publishing of the book, including Baltic International Bank, and Valērijs Belokoņs.

The book “House Coats of Arms in Modern Latvia” is intended to be a bi-partly edition. The first part – “The House Coats of Arms” – will contain an introduction by Imants Lancmanis – an insight into the history of the coats of arms in the territory of Latvia from the earliest times to the present day. Heraldic descriptions of the coats of arms approved by the National Heraldry Commission form the central part of this book, and this is the first time that the heraldic descriptions would also be translated into English (translation by DSc(Hist) Armands Vijups). This part of the book will also include images of coats of arms in their heraldic colours, as well as a short glossary of heraldic terms will provide explanations of the visual components most commonly used in family coats of arms.

The introduction of the second part of the publication – “The Family, and the Coat of Arms” – will be written by PhD Daina Teters looking into the inquisitive topic of family coat of arms from a context of signs and symbols, or, in other words, – the semiotic context. The central part of the book will be devoted to photographs of the owners of house coats of arms and their stories about the motivation behind creating a coat of arms, and a concise overlook on their family / kin.

The book “House Coats of Arms in Modern Latvia” is due to be published by the end of 2019. In order to facilitate the availability of the book to the general public, it will be donated to libraries in Latvia and abroad, and in limited numbers it will also be available at bookstores.