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Armorial de Suisse
Graubünden is an association between three different Bünden (local assemblies) who merged in the 15th century, but each had its own seals and jurisdiction until 1799. The three Bünden were the Obere or Graue Bund, the Gotteshausbund and the Zehngerichtenbund.
The Obere or Graue Bund used many different arms alongside from the 15th until the 19th century. One series of arms only showed a cross, either a normal cross, or a quartered cross. Many different variations in colours are known, such as red on white, quartered black and white etc. The second arms show a divided shield of black and silver. These were also shown on the official display of arms from 1548, see below.
Seals of the Obere Bund, 1500 and 1505
Coat of arms of the Obere Bund, 1548
The Gotteshausbund took already in the 13th century the ibex from the arms of the diocese of Chur. Unlike the arms of the Obere Bund, these arms never changed during the centuries.
Seal of the Gotteshausbund, 1529
Coat of arms of the Gotteshausbund, 1548
The Zehngerichtenbund used a seal since 1518, which showed a normal cross. The shield was held from behind by a savage. The colours are known since 1548 as a silver cross in blue (see below). At the time two savages acted as supporters. In 1564 the cross was shown in gold, like in 1643. In 1643 the gold and blue cross became quartered. These arms remained in use until the late 18th century. However, two variations have been used in which the arms were divided, with in the first half the cross, and in the second a savage, or opposite, with the cross in the second half.
Seal of the Zehngerichtenbund, 1524
Coat of arms of the Zehngerichtenbund, 1548
Although the three Bünde had officially merged, the arms were not combined into one shield. During the centuries the arms were always showed beside each other, like in the image below, in every possible combination of the variations of the individual arms. Only sometimes in less official use, as in books or medals, the arms were combined, see below.
Coat of arms of the 3 Bünde as shown on the gate of Ilanz from 1717
Combined arms of the 3 Bünde as shown on a medal of 1546
Combined arms of the 3 Bünde as shown on a painting of 1641
In 1803 Graubünden joined the Swiss Federation and in the same year the arms were combined in a single shield. The first upper quarter showed a divided shield for the Obere Bund, the second a quartered cross for the Zehngerichtenbund and in the lower half the ibex for the Gotteshausbund. These arms were nearly identical to the present arms as shown above. Behind the shield appeared the three supporters of the individual arms; St. George for the Obere bund, St. Mary for the Gotteshausbund and the savage for the Zehngerichtenbund.
Coat of arms of the kanton in 1803
The arms became quite popular among the population, even though the council was not so satisfied with the design.
In 1860 the Swiss government in Bern ordered stained glass windows with the arms of all kantons at the time. The arms were drawn by a Bernese artist, who did not know about the new arms in the kanton. Unfortunately the local Graubünden representative did not notice, and thus another combination of the three old arms, including supporters, all in one shield, became the second official arms of the canton...
Second official arms of the kanton until 1932
To complicate things, there was another variation, which was officially used by the kanton, for example on coins. Here the divided shield of the Obere Bund was replaced by cross and the cross for the Zehngerichtenbund was replaced by the arms with cross and savage.
Coat of arms of the kanton, as shown on late 19th century seals
At the end of the 19th century the council discussed again about the arms, and the design of 1803 and a variation on these with a shield divided in three equal parts (see below) were the most popular.
Main proposal 1931/2
Second proposal 1931/2
However, it took until 1932 before the council finally decided on the arms. It was decided to use the arms without supporters form 1803, but to change the colours of the first quarter, as in the historical arms the black and white fields were placed in the opposite fields. These arms have remained in use since.
Variations of the arms in the Kaffee Hag albums 1914-1960
Literature : Mühlmann, L. : Wappen und Fahnen der Schweiz, Bühler Verlag, Lengnau, 1977 and 1997; Wappenbuch des Kantons Graubünden, 1982