Born of the need to authenticate the origin of a public or private document, or to denote authority or ownership of an object, Seals first came into use in Ancient Times. Sigillography (from the Latin “Sigillum” which means “seal"), a branch of sciences of history associated with heraldry, is the science dealing with seals. The word “seal” encompasses two meanings. First, it describes the instrument used to print a mark on an object. Secondly, it refers to the mark left by the instrument itself.
Senegal is a Republic with the particularity of having two Seals:
The Seal of the Passing Lion
This Seal is reserved exclusively for the President of the Republic and designed to mark by dry seal important documents of the State such as treaties.
The Seal of the Baobab
This is the Seal used for certifying documents of the public administration.
Order No 60-26 of October 10, 1960 stipulates in its Article 2
“The seals, stamps, and tablets of the highest institutions of the State, Ministries, courts and tribunals, notaries, and any public institution or authority shall bear the Baobab as it appears on the Seal of the State, with the words “Republic of Senegal” and the stamp of the public institution or authority for which they are used.”
On one of the Seals, a passing lion can be seen with, on the upper right corner, a five-pointed star. The lion is also an emblem widely used in the symbolism of the Northern Sudanese ethnic group, to which most Sudanese belong. The lion was, before the French presence, the animal that symbolised power.
No other animal could better represent the Senegalese people, whose cardinal virtues are courage and loyalty. The first Seal bears, around its rim, the words:
Republic of Senegal – One People, One Purpose, One Faith
On the second Seal, a baobab can be seen. Why the baobab? First, because the baobab is a characteristic tree of the Senegalese flora. A group of hundred-year-old baobabs usually marks the location of an ancient village. Furthermore, the baobab is one of the trees from which farmers can derive the most resources.
Its fruit, called monkey bread, is used to cook porridge; its leaves, once crushed, are an ingredient in couscous; and strong ropes can be made out of its trunk. The edge of this second Seal bears the words:
Republic of Senegal – In the name of the senegalese people
The Baobab is the seal common to all the institutions of the Republic.
The National Police has adopted the Baobab as its own symbol. It is for this reason that it can be seen on the Police’s distinctive insignia (badges, shoulder-pieces, logos, etc.).