Heraldic Primer #5

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August 19, 2013 by phicks2012

I love Heraldry. As a result, and because very few people really know a lot about it, I’ve decided to include in my blog some basic information about how heraldic “coats of arms” were put together back in the early days.

In my first four blogs I told you about the Heraldic Tinctures, the Field and the Lines of Division, and the Ordinaries, and charges. This time I’m going to talk specifically about other Animate Charges. This category includes animals (beasts, birds, and fish), monsters, insects, and humanoids, and there are a limited variety of postures in which these animate charges can be shown.

Four-legged beasts tended to be shown rampant (a fighting pose showing them upright with only one foot on the ground), salient (a leaping pose showing them upright with both hind feet on the ground), courant (running with both fore and hind leags outstrretched), passant walking, with one foreleg raised), statant (standing with all four feet on the ground), sejant (seated with all four legs on the ground), sejant erect (like a dog sitting up), couchant (lying down but with the head raised), or dormant (sleeping).

Reptiles, insects and amphibians tended to be shown from above (tergient).

Fish tended to be either haurient (upright as though standing on their tails), urinant (head down), or naiant (a horizontal swimming posture).

Birds could be close (standing with wings folded), displayed (showing the breast and with spread wings) like the eagle on the U.S. seal), or volant (flying in profile), but there are a few more possible postures that specifically have the bird taking off, swooping down, or even eating a prey animal, and wing tips can be either raised or lowered.

With monsters, the postures used depended mostly upon the number of limbs and whether or not they were winged or had other features from one of the other groups.

Some creatures had “default” postures, and unless the posture were otherwise specified were shown in that posture. For example, with eagles it was “displayed”, with lions “rampant”, with most other birds “close”

Hope you find the above links helpful, and happy Heralding!

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August 2013


I am an active, outgoing person interested in all sorts of things and all sorts of people! I'm constantly discovering new interests, and expect that to continue right into the grave!

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