The hammer and sickle is a symbol used to represent communism and communist political parties. It features a sickle superimposed on a hammer. The two tools are symbols of the peasantry and the industrial proletariat; placing them together symbolises the unity between agricultural and industrial workers.
Soviet and Russian usage
The hammer and sickle was originally a hammer crossed over a plough, with the same meaning (unity of peasants and workers) as the more well known hammer and sickle. The hammer and sickle, though in use since 1917/18, was not the official symbol until 1922, before which the original hammer and plough insignia was used by the Red Army and the Red Guard on uniforms, medals, caps, etc.
Later, the symbol was featured on the flag of the Soviet Union, adopted in 1923 and finalized in the 1924 Soviet Constitution, and flags of the republics of the Soviet Union after 1924. Before this, the flags of Soviet republics tended to be a plain red field, with the golden text of the name of the respective republic superimposed on it, as stipulated in Article 90 of the 1918 Soviet Constitution.
- The Coat of Arms of the Soviet Union and the Coats of Arms of the Soviet Republics showed the hammer and sickle, which also appeared on the Red Star badge on the uniform cap of the Red Army uniform and in many other places.
- Serp i Molot (Russian language for 'hammer and sickle') is the name of the Moscow Metallurgical Plant.
- Serp i Molot is also the name of a stop on the electric railway line from Kurski railway station in Moscow to Gorki, featured in Venedikt Erofeev's novel, Moscow-Petushki.
Some anthropologists have argued that the symbol, like others used in the Soviet Union, was actually a Russian Orthodox symbol that was used by the Communist Party to fill the religious needs that Communism was replacing as a new state "religion." The symbol can be seen as a permutation of the Russian Orthodox two-barred cross.1
The former Soviet airline, Aeroflot, continues to use the hammer and sickle in its symbol.
Variations of the symbol
A number of symbols show some stylistical similarity to the hammer and sickle without necessarily featuring an actual hammer or a sickle. For example, such symbols appear on the flag of Angola, Communist Party of the USA, and on some renditions of Britain's Transport and General Workers Union logo.
Further variations on the theme of crossed tools include the symbol of the Workers' Party of Korea (hammer, writing brush and hoe), the old symbol of the British Labour Party (spade, torch and hoe), the crossed monkey wrench and tomohawk of the Earth First! movement, the pickaxe and rifle symbol of communist Albania, and the hammer and compasses of the emblem of the German Democratic Republic.
The Far Eastern Republic of Russia used an anchor crossed over a spade or pickaxe, symbolising the union of fishermen and miners.
The Communist Party of Britain uses the hammer and dove symbol. Designed in 1988 by Mikhal Boncza, it is intended to highlight the party's connection to the peace movement. It is usually used in conjunction with the hammer and sickle, and appears on all of the CPB's publications. Some members of the CPB prefer one symbol over the other, although the party's 1994 congress reaffirmed the hammer and dove's position as the official emblem of the Party.
The Austrian coat of arms depicts an eagle holding an (uncrossed) hammer and sickle in each claw. Though unrelated to communism, the design was meant to represent the two main classes in Austrian society at the time of its conception, the workers and peasants.
In Unicode, the "hammer and sickle" symbol (☭) is U+262D (☭).