The hammer and sickle (Unicode: U+262D ) is a communist symbol representing proletarian solidarity between agricultural and industrial workers. It was first adopted during the Russian Revolution at the end of World War I, the hammer representing workers and the sickle representing the peasants.[1]

The hammer and sickle symbol

After World War I (from which Russia withdrew in 1917) and the Russian Civil War, the hammer and sickle became more widely used as a symbol for labor within the Soviet Union and for international proletarian unity. It was taken up by many communist movements around the world, some with local variations. The hammer and sickle remains commonplace in self-declared socialist states, such as China, Cuba, North Korea, Laos, and Vietnam, but also some former Soviet republics following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, such as Belarus and Russia. Some countries have imposed bans on communist symbols, where the display of hammer and sickle is prohibited.

History edit

Inception edit

In 1918, Yevgeny Ivanovich Kamzolkin proposed a 'hammer and sickle' symbol as a decoration for the May Day celebrations in the Zamoskvorechye District of Moscow.[2][3] It originally featured a sword, but Lenin strongly objected, disliking the militaristic connotations.[4][5] On 6 July 1923, the 2nd session of the Central Executive Committee (CIK) adopted the emblem.[4][failed verification]

In his work, Daily Life in a Crumbling Empire: The Absorption of Russia into the World Economy, sociologist David Lempert hypothesizes that the hammer and sickle was a secular replacement for the patriarchal cross.[6][7]

Use in Soviet Union edit

 
A hammer and sickle on the insignia of the Order of the Patriotic War.

Meaning edit

At the time of creation, the hammer and sickle stood for worker-peasant alliance, with the hammer a traditional symbol of the industrial proletariat (who dominated the proletariat of Russia) and the sickle a traditional symbol for the peasantry, but the meaning has since broadened to a globally recognizable symbol for Marxism, communist parties, or socialist states.[4]

Current usage edit

Post-Soviet states edit

Two federal subjects of the post-Soviet Russian Federation use the hammer and sickle in their symbols: the Vladimir Oblast has them on its flag and the Bryansk Oblast has them on its flag and coat of arms, which is also the central element of its flag. In addition, the Russian city of Oryol also uses the hammer and sickle on its flag.[citation needed]

The former Soviet (now Russian) national airline, Aeroflot, continues to use the hammer and sickle in its symbol.[8]

The de facto government of Transnistria uses (with minor modifications) the flag and the emblem of the former Moldavian SSR, which includes the hammer and sickle. The flag can also appear without the hammer and sickle in some circumstances, for example on Transnistrian-issued license plates.[citation needed]

Communist parties edit

Three out of the five currently ruling Communist parties use a hammer and sickle as the party symbol: the Chinese Communist Party, the Communist Party of Vietnam and the Lao People's Revolutionary Party. In Laos and Vietnam, the hammer and sickle party flags can often be seen flying side by side with their respective national flags.[citation needed]

Many communist parties around the world also use it, including the Communist Party of Greece,[9] the Communist Party of Chile, both the Communist Party of Brazil and the Brazilian Communist Party, the Purba Banglar Sarbahara Party from Bangladesh, the Communist Party of Sri Lanka, the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the Communist Party of India (Marxist–Leninist) Liberation, the Communist Party of India, the Communist Party of India (Maoist), the Indian Communist Marxist Party, the Socialist Unity Centre of India (Communist), the Egyptian Communist Party, the Communist Party of Pakistan, the Communist Refoundation Party in Italy, the Communist Party of Spain, the Communist Party of Denmark, the Communist Party of Norway, the Romanian Communist Party, the Lebanese Communist Party, the Communist Party of the Philippines and the Shining Path. The Communist Party of Sweden, the Portuguese Communist Party[10] and the Mexican Communist Party use the hammer and sickle imposed on the red star.

Variations edit

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 while the flag of Mozambique features an AK-47 crossed by a hoe. In the logo of the Communist Party USA, 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. The logo of the Communist Party of Turkey consists of half a cog wheel crossed by a hammer, with a star on the top.[citation needed]

Tools represented in other designs include: the brush, sickle and hammer of the Workers' Party of Korea; the spade, flaming torch and quill used prior to 1984 by the British Labour Party; the pickaxe and rifle used in communist Albania; and the hammer and compasses of the East German emblem and flag. The Far Eastern Republic of Russia used an anchor crossed over a spade or pickaxe, symbolising the union of the fishermen and miners. The Fourth International, founded by Leon Trotsky, uses a hammer and sickle symbol on which the number 4 is superimposed. The hammer and sickle in the Fourth International symbol are the opposite of other hammer and sickle symbols in that the head of the hammer is on the right side and the sickle end tip on the left. The Trotskyist League for the Fifth International merges a hammer with the number 5, using the number's lower arch to form the sickle. A sickle with a rifle is also used by the People's Mojahedin of Iran.[citation needed]

The Communist Party of Britain uses the hammer and dove symbol. Designed in 1988 by Michal 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 it 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 Guadeloupe Communist Party uses a sickle, turned to look like a majuscule G, to represent Guadeloupe.[11]


In 1938, the Dobama Asiayone, an anti-British nationalist group in the then British Burma, adopted a tricolour flag charged with red sickle and hammer.[12] From 1974–2010, the flag of Burma (Myanmar) featured a bushel of rice superimposed on a cogwheel surrounded by fourteen white stars; the rice representing the peasants and the cogwheel representing the workers, the combination symbolizing that the peasants and workers be the two basic social classes for State building, while the fourteen equal-sized white stars indicate the unity and equality of fourteen member states of the Union.[13]

The flag of Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM, Party of the Revolution in Swahili), currently the ruling political party of Tanzania, has a slightly different symbol with a hammer and a hoe (jembe) instead of a sickle to represent the most common farm tool in Africa.[citation needed]

The symbols of the liberal socialist parties of Radical Civic Union in Argentina and the Czech National Social Party in the Czech Republic features a hammer and a quill with the former representing workers and the latter representing clerks.[citation needed]

The election symbol of Communist Party of India consists of a horizontal sickle, vertically crossed by Ears of Corn in the center.

Art edit

The hammer and sickle has long been a common theme in socialist realism, but it has also seen some depiction in non-Marxist popular culture. Andy Warhol who created many drawings and photographs of the hammer and sickle is the most famous example of this.

Legal status edit

In several countries in the former Eastern Bloc, there are laws that define the hammer and sickle as the symbol of a "totalitarian and criminal ideology" and the public display of the hammer and sickle and other Communist symbols such as the red star is considered a criminal offence. Georgia,[14] Hungary,[15] Latvia,[16] Lithuania,[17] Moldova (1 October 2012 – 4 June 2013)[18] and Ukraine[19][20][21] have banned communist symbols including this one. A similar law was considered in Estonia,[22] but it eventually failed in a parliamentary committee.[23] In Ukraine, the legislature equals communist symbols including hammer with sickle to Nazi swastika symbols.[24][25]

In 2010, the Lithuanian, Latvian, Bulgarian, Hungarian, Romanian, and Czech governments called for the European Union to criminalize "the approval, denial or belittling of communist crimes" similar to how a number of EU member states have banned Holocaust denial. The European Commission turned down this request, finding after a study that the criteria for EU-wide criminal legislation were not met, leaving individual member states to determine the extent to which they wished to handle past totalitarian crimes.[26]

In February 2013, the Constitutional Court of Hungary annulled the ban on the use of symbols of fascist and communist dictatorships, including the hammer and sickle, the red star and the swastika, saying the ban was too broad and imprecise. The court also pointed to a judgement of the European Court of Human Rights in which Hungary was found guilty of violation of article 10, the right to freedom of expression.[27] In June 2013, the Constitutional Court of Moldova ruled that the Moldovan Communist Party's symbols—the hammer and sickle—are legal and can be used.[28]

In Indonesia, the display of communist symbols is banned and the country's Communist party was also banned by decree of president Suharto, following the 1965–1966 killings of communists in which over 500,000 people were killed.[29][30] In January 2018, an activist protesting against Bumi Resources displayed the hammer and sickle, was accused of spreading communism, and later jailed.[31][32]

In Poland, dissemination of items which are "media of fascist, communist or other totalitarian symbolism" was criminalized in 1997. However, the Constitutional Tribunal found this sanction to be unconstitutional in 2011.[33]

Usage edit

Flags edit

Europe edit

Asia edit

Africa edit

Americas edit

State emblems edit

Soviet Union (in the constitutional order) edit

Other edit

Logos edit

Europe edit

Asia edit

Africa edit

Americas edit

Unicode edit

In Unicode, the "hammer and sickle" symbol is U+262D (☭). It is part of the Miscellaneous Symbols (2600–26FF) code block. It was added to Unicode 1.1 in 1993.[34]

See also edit

Notes edit

References edit

  1. ^ "Flag of Union of Soviet Socialist Republics". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 30 November 2019.
  2. ^ "АртРу.инфо - Художники - Камзолкин Евгений Иванович". Artru.info. 18 March 1957. Retrieved 2 January 2017.
  3. ^ "International Gallery of Contemporary Artists". Archived from the original on 16 August 2016. Retrieved 6 November 2015.
  4. ^ a b c Wharton, Christopher. "The Hammer and Sickle: The Role of Symbolism and Rituals in the Russian Revolution". The Myriad: Westminster's Interactive Academic Journal. Archived from the original on 10 August 2014. Retrieved 1 September 2023.
  5. ^ Stites, Richard (1997). "The Role of Ritual and Symbols". In Acton, Edward; Cherniaev, Vladimir Iu.; Rosenberg, William G. (eds.). Critical companion to the Russian Revolution, 1914-1921. Indiana University Press. pp. 568–569. ISBN 978-0-253-33333-9.
  6. ^ Lempert, David (1996). Daily Life in a Crumbling Empire: The Absorption of Russia into the World Economy. Columbia University Press/ Eastern European Monographs. ISBN 0-880-33341-3.
  7. ^ Crangan, Costel (1 September 2018). "De unde vine simbolul "secera şi ciocanul". Ce ţară l-a folosit prima şi în ce state este interzis" [Where does the symbol "sickle and hammer" come from? Which country used it first and in which states it is forbidden] (in Romanian). Adevarul Holding.
  8. ^ "Aeroflot Logo To Keep Hammer And Sickle". aviationweek.com. 18 April 2003. Retrieved 16 September 2022.
  9. ^ "KKE - Αρχική". kke.gr.
  10. ^ "Estatutos do PCP, art. 72". pcp.pt/estatutos-do-pcp. 17 March 2010.
  11. ^ "Parti Communiste Guadeloupéen". flagspot.net.
  12. ^ Khin Yi (1988). The Dobama Movement in Burma (1930-1938). Cornell University Press. p. 39.
  13. ^ မြန်မာဖတ်စာ ဒုတိယတန်း (Grade-3) [Myanmar Textbook for Second Standard (Grade-3)] (in Burmese). Ministry of Education, Government of the Union of Myanmar. 2006. p. 1.
  14. ^ Communist symbols to be banned in Georgia, BBC News, 4 May 2014, retrieved 13 May 2014
  15. ^ "Act C of 2012 on the Criminal Code, Section 335: Use of Symbols of Totalitarianism" (PDF). Ministry of Interior of Hungary. p. 97. Retrieved 21 February 2017. Any person who: a) distributes, b) uses before the public at large, or c) publicly exhibits, the swastika, the insignia of the SS, the arrow cross, the sickle and hammer, the five-pointed red star or any symbol depicting the above so as to breach public peace – specifically in a way to offend the dignity of victims of totalitarian regimes and their right to sanctity – is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by custodial arrest, insofar as they did not result in a more serious criminal offense.
  16. ^ Latvia Bans Soviet, Nazi Symbols, RIA Novosti, 21 June 2013, retrieved 14 September 2014
  17. ^ "Lithuanian ban on Soviet symbols". BBC News. 17 June 2008.
  18. ^ "Moldovan Parliament Bans Communist Symbols". Radio Free Europe. 12 July 2012.
  19. ^ "Ukraine Bans Soviet-Era Symbols". The Wall Street Journal.
  20. ^ LAW OF UKRAINE. On the condemnation of the communist and national socialist (Nazi) regimes, and prohibition of propaganda of their symbols
  21. ^ "Про засудження комуністичного та націонал-соціалістичного ... - від 09.04.2015 № 317-VIII". rada.gov.ua.
  22. ^ "Free speech questioned as Estonia prepares to ban Soviet, Nazi symbols".
  23. ^ "Ants Erm: Erinevalt venelaste ajaloost on Venemaa ajalugu Eestis vaid vägivald, küüditamine ja kommunistlik diktatuur".
  24. ^ "У поліції нагадали, що за серп і молот можна сісти на 5 років". Українська правда (in Ukrainian). Retrieved 5 July 2022.
  25. ^ Bobkov, Denys (7 May 2021). "Заборона символіки тоталітарних режимів: що мають знати миколаївці".
  26. ^ EU won't legislate on communist crimes, BBC News (22 December 2010).
  27. ^ "Hungary, hammer and sickle ban declared illegal". ANSA. 27 February 2013. Retrieved 12 November 2013.
  28. ^ "Constitutional Court rules that 'hammer and sickle' can be used". allmoldova.com. 5 June 2013. Archived from the original on 12 November 2013. Retrieved 12 November 2013.
  29. ^ "Declassified files outline US support for 1965 Indonesia massacre". archive.is. 29 October 2017. Archived from the original on 29 October 2017. Retrieved 16 February 2019.
  30. ^ Dickie Christanto (20 October 2008). "Artists summoned over communist symbol exhibition". The Jakarta Post. Archived from the original on 26 October 2008. Retrieved 12 November 2013.
  31. ^ "Indonesian activist jailed for advocating communism". ucanews.com. Retrieved 16 February 2019.
  32. ^ "Indonesia's 'Anti-Communism' Law Used Against Environmental Activist". Human Rights Watch. 12 January 2018. Retrieved 21 July 2021.
  33. ^ "Nowelizacja kodeksu karnego" (in Polish). 19 July 2011. Retrieved 8 April 2015.
  34. ^ "☭ Hammer and Sickle Emoji". emojipedia.org. Retrieved 11 October 2019.

External links edit