Heraldry, heraldika or grboslovje in Slovenian, is the science of coat-of-arms. It has a long history and tradition in Slovenia, and as there are more and more new municipalities, consequently there are more and more city coat-of-arms.
What does the Slovenian national coat-of-arms represent?
A national coat-of-arms has a blue background and a red border. In the middle there is Triglav (in white) – the highest mountain in Slovenia. Two wavy blue lines represent a sea and other waters. Above Triglav there are three gold stars which form an upside triangle.
Municipalities and their symbols – city coat-of-arms
A municipality, občina, is a self-governing sociopolitical community characteristic for Slovenian towns. In the Statistical Office of the Republic of Slovenia it is stated that there are already 212 municipalities, but just 11 of them have a status of being a city municipality. In fact, some of them are also unknown to me, because these are usually pretty small towns. Every municipality has its own mayor, župan. This means in total 212 mayors in Slovenia, which is a huge number for such a small country.
The coat-of-arms, grb, is a permanent symbol of a country or city. In Slovenia each municipality has a unique coat-of-arms. But there are also some of them which are similar. Coat-of-arms have the shape of a shield. They often show the nature, animals (especially horses, dragons, birds, fish, lions), castles, churches, saints, trees, waters and cereal. Typical colors on coat-of-arms are red, yellow, blue, green, black and white. City coat-of-arms are shown on Slovenian registration plates as well.
In the West, a dragon, zmaj, symbolises evil from ancient times, but in the East it represents wisdom, spirituality and protection – something more pleasant. It also symbolises strength and courage. A dragon is depicted on the 13 Slovenian coat-of-arms; on some of them there is a battle between Saint Jurij and a dragon (in the past this symbolised a victory of Christianity over paganism or, in other words, good over evil), on others a dragon is supposed to be a castle guardian and a guardian of a treasure. In Slovenia there are many myths and legends connected with dragons. We already wrote about Postojna Cave Dragon.
Nowadays, the meaning of a dragon isn’t so terrible anymore. As a matter of fact, Little Dragon, Zmajček, as I like to call it, became a genuine mascot. It is a symbol of Slovenia’s capital, Ljubljana. There dragons swarm: there are 4 big and 16 small green dragons on the Dragon Bridge, Zmajski most, on the Ljubljana coat-of-arms, on a beer can and a logotype of Slovenian famous beer label Union, and they are also hiding on the buildings and other bridges. When I was younger, I remember there was a great sweet shop called Zmajčkov butik (Little Dragon’s boutique) in Ljubljana.
Dragons can’t be missed on souvenirs and similar ‘dragon’ products as well. Along with Lipko (a linden mascot), Zmajček was a popular mascot of EuroBasket 2013. A Ljubljana fan group is called Green Dragons. Every year on Shrovetide Saturday there is The Dragon Carnival, Zmajev karneval, in Ljubljana streets. Surely it is very well promoted. Whether it was a mythological creature or perhaps a real one, judge for yourself.