National personification

National personification
Britannia arm-in-arm with Uncle Sam symbolizes the British-American alliance in World War I.

A national personification is an anthropomorphization of a nation or its people; it can appear in both editorial cartoons and propaganda.

Some early personifications in the Western world tended to be national manifestations of the majestic wisdom and war goddess Minerva/Athena, and often took the Latin name of the ancient Roman province. Examples of this type include Britannia, Germania, Hibernia, Helvetia and Polonia. Representations of the citizenry of a nation—rather than of the nation itself—are Deutscher Michel and John Bull.[1]

A national personification is not the same as a national animal, although in some cartoons the national animal rather than the human personification is used to represent a country.


Personifications by country or territory

Country Personification
 Albania Mother Albania
 Argentina Effigy of the Republic/Liberty/Progress/Fatherland, Gaucho
 Armenia Mother Armenia (Mayr Hayastan; lit. "Mother Hayastan")
 Australia Boxing kangaroo
 Austria Austria
 Brazil Efígie da República, the Candango (only in Brasília), the Bandeirante (only in São Paulo state)
 Cambodia Preah Thaong and Neang Neak
 Canada Mountie, Johnny Canuck, Le Vieux de '37 (French Canada), Adam Dollard des Ormeaux (used during the two World Wars as a military example), Miss Canada, Mother Canada (at the Vimy Memorial)
 Czech Republic Švejk (literary character), Český Vašek (obsolete, 19th Century), Hloupý Honza, Praotec Čech (Forefather Czech), Čechie, Double-tailed Czech lion.
 Chile El Roto, El Huaso, La Carmela, Doña Juanita (an average Chilean woman from the countryside)
 China Chinese dragon
 Denmark Holger Danske
 Dominican Republic Anacaona[citation needed]
 Egypt Mother of the World (Om el-Donia)
 England John Bull
 Europe Europa or Europa regina
 Finland Finnish Maiden (Suomi-neito)
 France Marianne , Gallic rooster
 Germany Germany: Germania, Arminius (Hermann der Cherusker), Deutscher Michel

Bavaria: Bavaria, Berlin: Berolina, Franconia: Franconia, Hamburg: Hammonia, Prussia: Borussia, Palatinate: Palatia, Saxony: Saxonia

 Greece Athena, "Greece" of Delacroix
 Honduras Juan Pueblo
 Hungary Hungária/ Hunnia
 Iceland The Lady of the Mountains (Fjallkonan)
 Ireland Ériu, Kathleen Ni Houlihan, Hibernia, Granuaile
 India Bharat Mata ("Mother India")
 Indonesia Ibu Pertiwi
 Israel Srulik, King David
 Italy Italia Turrita
 Japan Amaterasu Omikami, Samurai
 Macedonia Mother Macedonia,[2] Macedonian lion (national symbol)
 Malta Melita
 Mexico Adelita
 Netherlands Hans Brinker (outside the Netherlands), De Leeuw van Oranje, de Nederlandse Maagd` ("Netherlands Maiden"), (Zeeland: Zeeuws Meisje)
 New Zealand Kiwi, Zealandia, Southern man (for the South Island)
 Norway Ola Nordmann, Kari Nordmann, hist. Nór
 Pakistan Pak Watan is a national personification and a term of endearment for Pakistan.
 Palestinian territories Handala
 Peru The chalán, La Madre Patria
 Philippines Juan dela Cruz, Maria Clara
 Poland Polonia
 Portugal Zé Povinho, Eu nacional (National Self), Lusitania, República, Rooster of Barcelos
 Romania România Revoluționară, Constantin Daniel Rosenthal
 Russia Mother Russia/Mother Motherland, Russian Bear
 Scotland Jock Tamson
 Serbia Wolf (national personification based on Serbian tradition), Prince Marko (mythical hero, stereotype of the average Serb mentality), Kosovo Maiden, Typical Serb (bearded, stubborn man wearing a fur hat)
 Slovenia Kranjski Janez ("John from Carniola", an average man from Slovenia's central region), Peter Klepec
 Spain Hispania, Juan Español, Osborne Bull/Toro Osborne
 Sweden Mother Svea
 Switzerland Helvetia
 Turkey Anatolia
 United Kingdom Britannia, John Bull, Lion
 United States Uncle Sam (government personification), Lady Liberty, Columbia, Brother Jonathan (obsolete), Johnny Rebel (The South, obsolete), Billy Yank (The North, obsolete)
 Ukraine Cossack Mamay
 USSR Mother Motherland
 Venezuela Liberty's White Horse
 Wales Dame Wales, Deffroad Cymru, the Awakening of Wales


1914 poster showing Marianne, Mother Russia and Britannia.  
French political cartoon from the late 1890s, depicting European powers and Japan carving their shares out of China who protests in vain.  
Marianne is kept isolated from John Bull, Russian Bear and all the other European powers as Bismarck busily courts them.  
John Bull, a national personification of the United Kingdom holds the head of Napoleon I of France in an 1803 caricature by James Gillray.  
Germania representing Germany, in a painting by Phillip Veit from 1848.  
Eugène Delacroix, Greece Expiring on the Ruins of Missolonghi (1827)  
Theodoros Vryzakis' depiction of Hellas as a woman surrounded by rebels of the Greek War of Independence  
Italia and Germania by Friedrich Overbeck, symbolising the friendship between Germany and Italy  
Norway, Denmark and Sweden joining hands in a 19th Century poster  
Lech, Czech, Rus and the White Eagle  
Statue of Mother Svea representing Sweden on a building in Stockholm.  
World War I recruiting poster featuring John Bull.  
Brazilian Constitutionalist Revolution recruiting poster, showing a Bandeirante with the dictator of Brazil, Getúlio Vargas, in his hand.  
Allegory drawing depicting the friendship between the Argentine Republic and the newly-formed Brazilian Republic.  
Zé Povinho, caricature of a Portuguese working class man of the 19th century  
In this 1806 French print, the woman with the Menorah represents the Jews being emancipated by Napoleon Bonaparte  
James Gillray's cartoon on the 1803 Peace of Amiens, features a fat and non-marital Britannia kissing "Citizen François", a personifiaction of Revolutionary France never used by the French themselves  
Revolutionary Romania. Painting by C. D. Rosenthal, made in Paris exile in the early 1850's  
Romania Breaking off Her Chains on the Field of Liberty, also by C. D. Rosenthal  
A later depiction of Romania as a woman in a World War I French caricature  
Uncle Sam in a U.S. Army recruitment poster used in both World War I and World War II  
The figures in this late 18th century painting by Shiba Kōkan represent Japan, China, and the West.  
Columbia, personification of the United States ( World War I patriotic poster)  
Columbia, America personified as a young woman holding up a Phrygian cap on a clipper ship card of the Young America Movement  
Mother Canada statue in the World War I Vimy Memorial  
Mother Motherland, personification of the Soviet Union, at a World War II war memorial in Volgograd (the former Stalingrad)  
Polonia (Poland), by Jan Matejko, painted after the failure of the 1863 January Uprising  
Lady of the mountain in Iceland.  
Cossack Mamay, personification of Ukraine and Ukrainians.  
Peru (left), Argentina (centre) and Chile (right), personified at the Mausoleum of General San Martín, Buenos Aires.  
Free Bulgaria; lithography by Georgi Danchov  
17th century map by Frederik de Wit showing mythological Europa as the continent's personification  
Europa regina in Sebastian Münster's "Cosmographia".  
"Mrs. Britannia" and her daughter "Miss Canada" discussing "Cousin Jonathan"(the US) in a 1886 political cartoon  

See also


  1. ^ Eric Hobsbawm, "Mass-Producing Traditions: Europe, 1870-1914," in Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger, eds., The Invention of Tradition (Cambridge, 1983), 263-307.
  2. ^ Often seen in Macedonian folklore.

Lionel Gossman. “Making of a Romantic Icon: The Religious Context of Friedrich Overbeck’s ‘Italia und Germania.’” American Philosophical Society, 2007. ISBN 0871699753. [1]

External links

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