Black panther (symbol)
The black panther (Slovene: črni panter), also known as the Carantanian panter (karantanski panter) after the Medieval principality of Carantania, is a Carinthian historical symbol, which represents a stilized heraldic panther. As a heraldic symbol, it appeared on the coat of arms of the Carinthian Duke Herman II as well as of the Styrian Margrave Ottokar III. In this region it was most frequently imaged on various monuments and tombstones. The symbol can still be found in the coat of arms of the Austrian state of Styria, although the colours have changed. The symbol is also widely used within structures of the Slovenian security forces; namely by the Slovenian Armed Forces and the Slovenian Police. Since 1991, there have been several proposals to replace the Slovenian coat of arms with the black panther.
The origins of the symbol are unclear. According to the archaeologist and historian Andrej Pleterski, it appears for the first time in the coat of arms of the Sponheim family from Carinthia. The historian Peter Štih has denied any historically attested relation to symbols of Carantania. On the contrary, the economist Jožko Šavli, an adherent of the autochthonist Venetic theory, believed that it originated from the Roman province of Noricum, was later adopted by Carantania, and then by the Styrian nobility.
Later disputed usage
Symbol of Carantania
The symbol of the black panther in its current version was first reconstructed by the historian Jožko Šavli in the 1980s. Šavli claimed that he had discovered several feudal families originating from the old Carantanian area that had a black panther in their dynastic coat of arms. He also claimed that he had discovered several documents mentioning the black panther as an ancient symbol of Caranthania. From all these evidences he made a reconstruction of how the symbol of Carolingian Caranthania most probably had looked like.
Šavli's reconstruction soon gained some popularity among younger generations of Slovenian patriots and nationalists. In the last two decades, it has become one of the most recognizable symbols of Slovenian patriotism. It is also used by several nationalistic groups.
Symbol of Carinthia
Several academic historians, such as Peter Štih, have disputed the hypothesis that the black panther was the symbol of Carolingian and Ottonian Duchy of Carinthia. According to their views, all mentions which would suggest such a conclusion are vague. Furthermore, there is no direct evidence of the symbol dating to the time of the Slavic principality of Carantania. Nevertheless, the ties of the black panther symbol with the territory of the early Ottonian Carinthia seem to be beyond doubt.
Jožko Šavli's stylized version of the black panther is widely used within structures of the Slovenian security forces; namely by the Slovenian Armed Forces and the Slovenian Police. Within the Slovenian military the symbol is present on a Coat of Arms of the General Staff of the Slovenian Armed Forces (Slovene: Generalštab Slovenske vojske) and the United Operational Center (Slovene: Združeni operativni center), although in the latter case the symbol is reversed and is facing to the right. The panther is also used in the Coat of Arms of the special forces unit of the Slovenian Police, although in their case stylized in red and presented on a black shield. This unit is commonly referred to as the Red Panthers (Rdeči panterji).
- Valenčič, Erik (3 June 2010). "Mitološke prikazni" [Mythological Apparitions]. Mladina.si (in Slovenian).
- Intervju P. Štiha v Mladini, 15. 12. 2005
- Šavli, Jožko (1994). Slovenska znamenja [Slovene Symbols] (in Slovenian). ISBN 961-6097-00-8.
- "Generalštab Slovenske vojske" [General Staff of the Slovenian Army] (in Slovenian). Slovenian Armed Forces official website. Retrieved 25 March 2016.
- "Združeni operativni center" [United Operational Center] (in Slovenian). Slovenian Armed Forces official website. Retrieved 25 March 2016.
- "Specialna enota" [Special unit] (in Slovenian). Slovenian Police official website. Retrieved 25 March 2016.
- Mitja Felc (2 August 2011). "Rdeči panterji se dan za dnem urijo za pomoč, udarnost in ostrino" [Red Panthers train day-to-day for help, strike and sharpness] (in Slovenian). Delo official website. Retrieved 25 March 2016.
- "Rdeči panterji sodelovali v taktični vaji Atlas Common Challenge 2013" [Red Panthers participated in a tactical exercise Atlas Common Challenge 2013] (in Slovenian). Slovenian Police official website. 19 April 2013. Retrieved 25 March 2016.
- Tina Hacler (23 May 2013). "Foto: Policijski specialci – najprej znoj in kri, nato zvestoba do groba" [Foto: Police special forces – first sweat and blood, then loyalty until the end] (in Slovenian). RTV Slovenija official website. Retrieved 25 March 2016.
- M. M., U. Z. (22 May 2013). "Foto: Policijski specialci – najboljši med najboljšimi" [Foto: Police special forces – the best among the best] (in Slovenian). 24ur official website. Retrieved 25 March 2016.
- Andrej Pleterski, "Karantanski Rašamon ali mit pred mitom" in Delo, y. 39, n. 118 (May 24, 1997).
- Peter Štih, "Brskanje po zgodovini in iskanje slovenskih simbolov" in Delo, y. 30, n. 130 (June 6, 1990).
- Jožko Šavli, Slovenski simboli (Bilje: Založba Humar, 1995).