The National (coat of) Arms.
Next from the Norwegian flag, we have The National Arms with its golden lion that holds the silver blade, our first national symbol. The Norwegian forests does not host this southern king of the animals, and maybe it would have been more natural to have a bear or a flower on the emblem. The choice fell on the lion in the middle age, with a complete different politic, power, mind, traditions and thoughts behind it, then we have to day. The lion is linked to the bible and the middle east lion-king symbolic.
To make The National Arms a little special, placed the people from the middle age a silver axe between the paws of the lion. It is the axe from Olav the Holy, that was killed at Stiklestad and it binds royal family of the middle age and the national government to the "Norway's king for ever", as the church called him. Here lies many opportunities for religious and political interpretations in a time with fights between the people with power, both men of the church and temporal men. The lion has truly been used as national arms since Håkon Håkonssons was king in 1200. Snorre leads the lion even further back, but it is a more doubtful history.
The national lion the government uses to day,
is from 1930, with only a small adjustment for some years ago. The reason that
the government uses the same form and shape through so many years, is simply
economic; to economise money. It is to expensive to let artistes work on a new
lion motive. Never the less have many skilful Norwegian and foreign artists,
made many beautiful Norwegian lions, that could have been used in Norway to day.
Seen from an artistic point of view, should the forming of the lion be more
changeable, than the strict instructions form the department allows to day, as
is has been allowed in hundred of years before. The standardised and unification
of the lions form, is not necessary to day and with out history. In the middle
age, it was natural that motives and forms of the cotes of arms should vary and
was drawn after taste, stile and what it was needed for.