By Divya D. Sujun and U. Shivraj Sohur
The GFCH seal is based on an initial concept for the 5-2035 vision seal and its Community Health Development Initiative (CHDI). Please request the full 76-page White Paper here to learn more.
In our GFCH seal, we centrally highlight the Mauritian kestrel. Before we describe the design of our seal, we will briefly explain the framework of heraldry, the domain in which a design such as ours evolves in.
At its inception, heraldry, the art of creating coats of arms and seals has origins in Northern France about a thousand years ago. It has been variously called “shorthand of history” and “the noble science” [1,2]. The art flourished under the royalties of the British Isles and has come to be adopted universally to represent royal or governmental organizations. Strict European heraldry has a complex language [1,2].
Over time however, different cultures and countries have adapted heraldry to tell their own stories in a compact and meaningful way; this is the purview of contemporary heraldry. To design the seal for the CHDI and the GFCH we used the elements of contemporary heraldry. Although outside the scope of this proposal, we also intend the CHDI seal to generate interest in eventually redesigning the coat of arms of the Republic of Mauritius, using the representational elements of this proposed seal.
As a central feature in designing our seal, we propose to replace the dodo with the Mauritian kestrel (Falco punctatus) as our national bird because it represents our history and aspirations better. The fortunes of the Mauritian kestrel (hereby the ‘kestrel’), mirrors the fortunes of the country. Because of habitat destruction, the kestrel was at one time in the 1970s the most endangered bird species in the world . Through the efforts of many people including citizens, politicians, scientists, the business community and people of goodwill from around the world, the kestrel has risen from the brink of extinction to become a symbol for successful conservation efforts.
Such is precisely the narrative for Mauritius. At independence in 1968, Mauritius was given up as a failed state , but by sustained effort of all its citizens and friends we could count on, the country has risen to be a beacon of good governance and economic success . In the category of birds of prey, the Mauritian kestrel is one of the smallest raptors, but it is also a courageous hunter; in a sense it “punches above its weight class”, just like our little country of Mauritius. The fates of the kestrel and Mauritius are intimately intertwined and a natural choice.
We have deep meaning to each element of our proposed seal. We spent a great deal of time coming up with models of how to depict the kestrel in our seal. We finally selected a stance where the kestrel is flying out of the plane of the shield in majesty to grab the future with its talons. The spread wings and tail depicts the ambition of our nation while the centrally located head of the bird and eyes project determination to the tasks that we have at hand. In our design, a shield is in the background and covers the back of the kestrel, guarding our values, and we are not afraid of the forward-looking future.
Within the shield, the top quadrants evoke from left to right, our coming from all parts of the world in a caravelle by the flowing shades of blue of the Indian Ocean. In the background, we have a Louis XIV-style rising sun. This is an appreciation of France and French culture that is part and parcel of our country. To recall, on June 27, 1715, Dufresne d’Arsel had taken possession of the island in the name of Louis XIV , also known as Le Roi Soleil, and whose emblem is the shining sun . The sun also had important symbolism in South Asian culture and religions.
On the right side of the top quadrant, we depict a banyan tree that has established roots in the verdant African land. We have taken the banyan tree to also represent our version of the Tree of Life, a recurring symbolic feature in many cultures. The roots and tentacles represent all the communities that have established in Mauritius. The lower quadrants are a continuation with our past “Star and Key of the Indian Ocean”.
Specifically for the GFCH seal, the banner proclaims our motto Concordia Res Parvae Crescunt (“In Unity, Strength”).
Biosketch of the Graphic Artist, Ms. Divya Darshanee Sujun
Ms. Sujun holds a Bachelors of Arts (Hons) in Digital Art with specialization in 3D animation from the Mahatma Gandhi Institute School of Fine Arts – University of Mauritius. She attended the Rajcoomar Gujadhur State Secondary school in Flacq.
Since childhood, Ms. Sujun has had a creative eye and a passion for art. In the 2011 sitting, she ranked first in Mauritius at the Cambridge University (England) A-level Art and Design examination. For this distinction, she was recognized at the Outstanding Cambridge University Learner Awards ceremony in August 2012. She plans to develop her passion into a career in 3D animation and 3D architecture.
Ms. Sujun considers art to be a universal language bringing people together. She plans to promote art in Mauritius and make it more accessible to the public.
- 1. Slater, S., The complete book of heraldry. 2010: Hermes House.
- 2. Fox-Davies, A.C., A complete guide to heraldry. The Project Gutenberg EBook ed. 1909, London: T.C. & E.C. Jack.
- 3. Jones, C. and V. Tatayah Falco punctatus (Mauritian kestrel). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. , 2015. Version 2015.2.
- 4. Naipaul, V.S., The overcrowded barracoon, and other articles. 1972, London: Deutsch.
- 5. Foundation, M.I., Ibrahim Index of African Governance. 2014.
- 6. Teelock, V., Mauritian history: from its beginnings to modern times. 2001, Mauritius: Mahatma Gandhi Institute.