The Mexican National Flag and Emblem
The Mexican National Flag and its crest are symbols that represent the nation. Its origination can be traced back to the period of independence, when Mexico broke free from European foreign rule. The history of the crest or emblem of the flag is based on the representation of the founding of the land were Tenochtitlan was built. According to legend the Aztec God of War had given them a sign in which they were to build their Empire. The sign was an eagle perched on a cactus that would be tearing apart a serpent. After a long journey traveling from Aztlan, which is currently Nayarit, the Aztecs found what they had been searching for in the valley of Mexico, the eagle on the cactus on the shores of Lake Anahuac, on a small island.
The sign given by Huitzilopochtli (the Aztec God of War) is reproduced in the emblem of the National Flag. The renovation of life to the indigenous people is depicted in the eagle, in left profile, standing up and perched on a nopal cactus. The eagle is resting on its left claw while holding a rattlesnake with its right claw and griping the other portion of the snake with its beak as if ready to tear it apart. The nopal cactus on which the eagle stands is emerging from an islet, which is a small island. The cactus contains red cactus fruit (tunas), which represents the human heart to the Aztecs. The national emblem also contains a symbol of a republic along with the pre-Hispanic codices (manuscripts such as symbols). The republic is symbolized in the lower part of the emblem containing two garlands joined by a three colored ribbon, on its left is oak and on its right is laurel. The use of the banners and ribbons can be dated back to ancient Mexican history. Evidence shows that the Aztecs, Tlaxcaltecans, Tepenecas and other tribes used banners with various symbols to identify themselves with their government or state.
Prior to the establishment of the Mexican National Flag, the colonial period used emblems of the monarchs to represent the Spanish Territory. Spaniards were accustomed to using their own pendants and standards however; they used nothing to represent the colonial nation as a whole.
Mexico began using banners during the period of independence when Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla started the independence movement in September 15, 1810. Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla adopted the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe from his sanctuary and placed it on the army’s flag.
Shortly after Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, the supreme congress reunited in Michoacan in 1815 where three flags were created, one of war, one of parliament, and one of commerce. The flag of war had blue and white blocks surrounding the flag outline with red with an eagle on the center standing on a cactus. This flag was used a lot during many of the battles that helped sustain the liberty of the nation. Other leaders of the independence movement also used their own flags, which contained the colors green, white, and red.
Later on Vicente Guerrero and Augustine de Iturbide joined forces to declare Mexico an independent constitutional monarchy, and on February 24, 1821, on which they published the Iguala Plan. The people who were currently living in Mexico (Spaniards, Creoles, Indians and Mestizos) were to be known as citizens of Mexico, (Mexicans). Iturbide then used the colors green, white, and red to depict the flag of the new nation. The colors were shown in three diagonal fractions, one of them red with a white star on it, another green with a red star on it and the other section white with a green star on it. In the center a gold imperial crown with the words Independence, Religion, and Union shown around it. The color white symbolized religion, the green independence, and the red union. This flag was later called the “Bandera de Las Tres Garantias.”
In 1821 the colors of the flag were used in different order. During the Provisional Government the order of the three colored sections of the flag were to be used in vertical positions with the order of the colors to be green first, then white, and red and the eagle standing on a cactus plat in the center with a crown on its head.
In 1823 the Mexican government became a republic and according to the constitution the flag should have three vertical bands of different colors. The one closest to the flagpole should be green, the middle one white, and the one farthest to the flagpole red. The colors were then chosen green to represent the laurels of victory and hope, white for purity, and red for the blood of the heroes who shed for the independence. The middle section would depict and eagle of Mexican origin without the crown, found standing on a nopal cactus growing on a rock surrounded by water. The eagle is found standing on its left leg holding the serpent with its right claws and grasping it with its beak as if ready to tear it apart. In addition it would be surrounded by the symbols of the republic, the oak and laurel braches tied together with a three-color ribbon.
Since then the elements of the flag have been conserved, although the emblem and the eagle has change from time to time in the forms of profile view to frontal view and also three fourths position. In 1865 the emblem changed when the emperor Maximilian be shown in frontal view with a crown shown over the eagle. Later, Porfirio Diaz ordered the eagle to be facing forward with its wings outspread. Venustiano Carranza also changed it when he decided that the eagle should be in left profile and bear the characteristics noted by the Mexican government when they discovered Tenochtitlan. Till now, presidents have modified the emblem however; the emblem as designed by the administration of Carranza’s administration has been kept and respected.