Schwurhand

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Elisabeth Kopp's oath of office after her election at the Swiss Federal Council in 1984, Switzerland.

The Schwurhand (German pronunciation: [ˈʃvuːɐ̯hant]) is a heraldic charge depicting the hand gesture that is used in Germanic Europe and neighboring countries, when swearing an oath in court, in office or in swearing-in. The right hand is raised, with the index finger and middle finger extended upwards; the last two digits are curled downwards against the palm. The thumb is shown slightly curled or raised.

Traditional use[edit]

The use of the gesture dates back many centuries. Recruits of the Pontifical Swiss Guard at the Vatican City use the sign when swearing their oath of allegiance to the Pope, in a ceremony performed on 6 May every year since the Sack of Rome in 1527. The use of the three digits is said to symbolise the three persons of the Holy Trinity.[1]

In Switzerland[edit]

Depictions of the Rütli Oath or Rütlischwur, the legendary founding oath of the Old Swiss Confederacy in the 14th century, show the participants using this gesture.[2] The people elected at the Swiss Federal Assembly and at the Swiss Federal Council traditionally use the Schwurhand for their oath of office (and say 'I swear').

Heraldic use[edit]

Military use[edit]

War grave memorial, Messukylä cemetery, Finland
Finnish conscripts and women serving voluntary military service swearing their military oath in 2005
Polish recruits are sworn in in 2007
A Swiss Guard recruit being sworn in in Vatican City in 2008
German Reichswehr soldiers swear the Hitler oath in 1934

Notes and references[edit]

See also[edit]