|The national emblems — the coat of arms, the flag, and the anthem — alternated during the millennium of Ukrainian history owing to various political, social, cultural, and other factors.
The contemporary national coat of arms of Ukraine, Azure, a trident or, is the most ancient as well as the most dignified of all the Ukrainian insignia of nationwide significance and its emblazonment represents a synthesis of a pre-' heraldic device of the ruling dynasty in the tenth century and of the oldest Ukrainian national heraldic tinctures from the 13th century. The classic form of the Ukrainian trident is found on the gold and silver coins of Volodymyr the Great (979-1015), the Grand Prince of Kyiv.
The origin and of the original meaning of the Ukrainian trident have still not been solved by scholars. The archaeological finds of tridents in Ukraine go back to the first century A. D. Undoubtedly this emblem was a mark of authority and a mystic symbol of one or of several of the ethnic groups which inhabited ancient Ukrainian territory and which came to compose the Ukrainian nation.
The trident became a heraldic badge of all of medieval Ukraine and in almost every generation it underwent certain augmentations (e. g., more crosslets, crescents, pearls), and there are cases where the trident passed into a bident and vice versa. Tridents and bidents are found on many objects of that period: coins, stones, and bricks of significant buildings (palaces, castles, cathedrals, etc.), armor, seals, jewelry, ceramics, manuscripts. As a result of archaeological excavations and studies, the number of specimens of the trident, in various forms, has increased and stands now at about 200.
During the 12th century, the image of Saint Michael the Archangel superseded the trident as the highest national device, but tridents continued to be used by ruling houses as additional dynastic badges until the 15th century.
After the renascence of independent Ukraine on January 22, 1918, the trident was adopted, by a law of March 22, 1918, as the national device of the Ukrainian National Republic. It was adopted in the form of a Great and a Small Coat of Arms representing the classic trident of Volodymyr the Great in an ornamental wreath.
Distinctive banners and standards were borne by ancient Ukrainian rulers and their armies through the entire period of the medieval monarchy. Red was the most frequent color (gules was also the tincture of the Ukrainian knightly shields of the twelfth century); blue and white were used also, but yellow rarely appeared. The most frequent bearings were stars, crescents, crosses, and dynastic devices. Crosses, tridents, bidents, heads of spears, and other emblems ornated the tops of flag staffs.
In the middle of the 19th century, when the national revolutions marked the course of European history, the necessity arose for a visible symbol of the self determination of the Ukrainian nation. Seeking inspiration in the glorious historical past, the Supreme Rada in Lviv, reviving in 1848 the coat of arms of the former kingdom (Azure, the lion rampant or), simultaneously accepted the armorial tinctures as the combination of national colors of Ukraine. Both, the light blue flag charged with the golden crowned lion and the horizontally stripped flag (yellow above light blue substituting the charge and the escutcheon of the national coat of arms) were used at that time and the latter soon became the national flag in Galicia as well as all over Ukraine.
The composition of national colors was decreed by a law of the independent Ukrainian National Republic on March 22, 1918.
The light blue above yellow flag was established for the Western Ukrainian National Republic on November 13, 1918, and for the Carpatho-Ukrainian Republic on March 15,1939, as a symbol of the all-Ukrainian unity.
Both the yellow above light blue flag and the light blue above yellow flag were hoisted until 1949, and borne as military standards and colors during the Civil War of 1917-20. The light blue above yellow flag was provisionally confirmed by the Ukrainian National Rada in exile on June 27, 1949.