Not much is known about the origins of the Finnish arms. The monument of Gustav Vasa in Uppsala cathedral completed in the 1580s is the oldest known display of the emblem, and the design used in it was also adopted by the newly independent Finland as its national arms in 1917. Before that, the emblem had been used for the Swedish possessions east of the Gulf of Bothnia until 1809, and by Finland when a grand duchy of the Russian Empire.
The act on the arms of Finland (381/78) describes the emblem as follows:
"A crowned lion rampant on a red field holding a raised sword in an armoured hand replacing the animal?s right front leg, and trampling a sabre with its hind legs; the lion, the crown, the hilts and the joints of the armour being in gold, and the blades of the weapons, and the armour itself being of silver; nine silver rosettes being scattered in the field."
Using an emblem substantially deviating from this design as Finnish national arms or, as the law puts it, "selling any emblem violating legal provisions as the arms of Finland" is punishable by a fine.