Hammer and sickle

Hammer and sickle

The hammer and sickle is a part of communist symbolism and its usage indicates an association with Communism, Communist Party, or Communist state. It features a hammer superimposed on a sickle, or vice versa. The two tools are symbols of the industrial proletariat and the peasantry; placing them together symbolises the unity between industrial and agricultural workers.

It is best known from having been incorporated into the red flag of the Soviet Union, along with the Red Star. It has also been used in other flags and emblems.

oviet and Russian usage

The hammer and sickle was originally a hammer crossed over a plough, with the same meaning (unity of peasants and workers) as the better known hammer and sickle. The hammer and sickle, though in use since 1917/18, was not the official symbol until 1922, before which the original hammer and plough insignia was used by the Red Army and the Red Guard on uniforms, medals, caps, etc.

Later, the symbol was featured on the flag of the Soviet Union, adopted in 1923 and finalized in the 1924 Soviet Constitution, and flags of the republics of the Soviet Union after 1924. Before this, the flags of Soviet republics tended to be a plain red field, with the golden text of the name of the respective republic superimposed on it, as stipulated in Article 90 of the 1918 Soviet Constitution.

*The Coat of Arms of the Soviet Union and the Coats of Arms of the Soviet Republics showed the hammer and sickle, which also appeared on the Red Star badge on the uniform cap of the Red Army uniform and in many other places.
*"Serp i Mólot" (Russian language for 'sickle and hammer' (in fact, it is the actual Russian name of this symbol) is the name of the Moscow Metallurgical Plant.
*"Serp i Molot" is also the name of a stop on the electric railway line from Kurski railway station in Moscow to Gorki, featured in Venedikt Erofeev's novel, "Moscow-Petushki".

Some anthropologists have argued that the symbol, like others used in the Soviet Union, was actually a Russian Orthodox symbol that was used by the Communist Party to fill the religious needs that Communism was replacing as a new state "religion." The symbol can be seen as a permutation of the Russian Orthodox two-barred cross. [David Lempert, Daily Life in a Crumbling Empire: The Absorption of Russia into the World Economy, Columbia University Press/ Eastern European Monographs, 1996.]

Current usage

Two federal subjects of the post-Soviet Russian Federation use the hammer and sickle in its symbols: The Vladimir Oblast has them on its flag and the Bryansk Oblast has them on its coat of arms, which is also the central element of its flag.

The former Soviet (now Russian) national airline, Aeroflot, continues to use the hammer and sickle in its symbol.

The separatist government of Transnistria uses (with minor modifications) the flag and the emblem of the former Moldavian SSR, which include the hammer and sickle. The flag can also be used without the hammer and sickle in some circumstances, for example on Transnistrian-issued license plates.

The Communist Party of China uses it as the party symbol.

Variations of the symbol

Many symbols having similar structures and messages to the original have been designed. For example, the Angolan flag shows a segment of a cog, crossed by a machete, and crowned with a socialist star. In the logo of the Communist Party of the United States, a circle is formed by a half cog and a semicircular sickle-blade. A hammer is laid directly over the sickle's handle with the hammer's head at the logo's center.

Tools represented in other designs include: the brush, sickle, and hammer of the Workers' Party of Korea; the spade, flaming torch, and hoe used prior to 1984 by the British Labour Party; the monkey wrench and tomahawk of the Earth First! movement; the pickaxe and rifle used in communist Albania; and the hammer and compasses of the emblem of the East German flag. The Far Eastern Republic of Russia used an anchor crossed over a spade or pickaxe, symbolising the union of fishermen and miners. The Fourth International, founded by Trotsky, uses a hammer and sickle symbol on which the number '4' is superimposed. The Trotskyist League for the Fifth International merges a hammer with the number '5', using the number's lower arch to form the sickle.

The Communist Party of Britain uses the hammer and dove symbol. Designed in 1988 by Mikhal Boncza, it is intended to highlight the party's connection to the peace movement. It is usually used in conjunction with the hammer and sickle, and appears on all of the CPB's publications. Some members of the CPB prefer one symbol over the other, although the party's 1994 congress reaffirmed the hammer and dove's position as the official emblem of the Party. Similarly, the Communist Party of Israel uses a dove over the hammer and sickle as its symbol. The flag of the Communist Party of Guadeloupe uses a sickle, turned to look like a majuscule 'G', to represent Guadeloupe. [ [http://flagspot.net/flags/gp%7Dpcg.html Flags of the World] ]

With differing intent, the eagle on the Austrian flag holds a golden hammer in its left talon, and a golden sickle in its right talon. The tools were not meant to be references to communism (indeed, the eagle also wears a golden crown) but, rather, were meant to represent the industrial and agricultural laborers, united with the former aristocracy, in one republican democracy.

The National Bolshevik Party, a far right/Third Position grouping which organises in Russia and other former republics of the USSR, uses a flag with a strong visual resemblance to the red, white and black flag of the German Nazi Party, except that a hammer and sickle replaces the swastika.


In Unicode, the "hammer and sickle" symbol is U+262D. (unicode|☭)

Legal status

In countries that were formerly within the Soviet Union's sphere of influence, the Hammer and Sickle and the Red Star are regarded by some citizens as occupation symbols. Accordingly, the Republic of HungaryHungarian Criminal Code 269/B.§ (1993.)] , LatviaFact|date=June 2008, and Lithuania [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/low/europe/7459976.stm BBC NEWS | Europe | Lithuanian ban on Soviet symbols ] ] banned the symbols' public usage. A similar law was considered in Republic of Estonia, but eventually failed in a parliamentary committee as too onerous for constitutionally guaranteed freedoms, most importantly, freedom of speech.


ee also

*Communist symbolism
*Red star


External links

* [http://flagspot.net/flags/kp}.html Flag] of North Korea's Korean Workers' Party (which uses the hammer, pen and hoe)
* [http://www.l-r-c.org.uk/img/logo.gifOld symbol] of the British Labour Party (spade, torch and hoe).

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • hammer and sickle — n [singular] 1.) the sign of a hammer crossing a ↑sickle on a red background, used as a sign of ↑communism 2.) the flag of the former Soviet Union …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • hammer and sickle — noun singular the sign that represents Communism, consisting of a hammer across a SICKLE (=a tool used for cutting grain crops). This sign was used on the flag of the former Soviet Union …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • hammer and sickle — n. the emblem of Communist parties in some countries, consisting of a sickle (symbolizing peasants) placed across a hammer (symbolizing workers) …   English World dictionary

  • hammer and sickle — ► NOUN ▪ the symbols of the industrial worker and the peasant used as the emblem of the former USSR and of international communism …   English terms dictionary

  • hammer and sickle — noun the emblem on the flag of the Soviet Union • Hypernyms: ↑emblem, ↑allegory * * * ˌhammer and ˈsickle [hammer and sickle] noun singular tools representing the …   Useful english dictionary

  • hammer and sickle — symbol of a crossed hammer and sickle representing the worker and the farmer (part of the flag of the former Soviet Union) …   English contemporary dictionary

  • hammer and sickle — noun 1. an emblem consisting of a crossed hammer and sickle representing the industrial worker and the peasant; adopted as the emblem of the Soviet Union in 1923. 2. any similar emblem of communism outside the Soviet Union …   Australian English dictionary

  • hammer and sickle — noun Date: 1921 an emblem consisting of a crossed hammer and sickle used especially as a symbol of Soviet Communism …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • hammer and sickle — 1. the emblem of the Soviet Union, adopted in 1923 and consisting of an insignia of a hammer with its handle across the blade of a sickle and a star above. 2. any emblem similar to this, as the flag of Communist parties in some countries. * * * …   Universalium

  • hammer and sickle — ham′mer and sick′le n. gov the Communist emblem of the Soviet Union, consisting of a hammer with its handle across the blade of a sickle and a star above …   From formal English to slang

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