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Abacus

An Abacus

Oriental abacus (SFPP)

An abacus is a device for counting and calculating, consisting of rows of sliding beads. While similar apparati may have been used in Roman times, they’d fallen out of use by the Middle Ages, replaced by the counting table; thus no examples of the abacus have been found in period armory. The abacus used in Society armory is the Oriental version, called suan pan by the Chinese, soroban by the Japanese; it is explicitly blazoned as an “Oriental abacus”. As a non-European artifact, its use is considered a step from period practice.

The abacus is fesswise by Society default.

Walter Faversham bears: Per chevron embattled argent and vert, two wooden Oriental abacuses proper and a thunderbolt Or.

Reinhardt Breitenbach bears: Per pale gules and Or, an Oriental abacus counterchanged.

Carwyn O’Hirwen bears: Per pall Or ermined azure, sable and vert, an Oriental abacus argent.

This entry was posted on August 30, 2013, in .

Acorn

Acorn

Acorn (Period)

The acorn is the fruit of the oak tree; for that reason, it was considered a symbol of latent strength.  It’s a period charge, found in the arms of Gilsburgh or Gillsborough, c.1490 [DBA2 350].  The acorn’s Society default is with stem to chief, which seems to be the opposite of medieval convention.  An “acorn proper” is brown in Society armory.

The Shire of Far Reaches bears:  Azure, a laurel wreath and in chief three acorns argent.

Roger Stockton bears:  Azure, six acorns one, three, one and one argent.

Richenda de Cameron bears:  Gules, three acorns Or.

This entry was posted on November 13, 2013, in .

Adze

Adze (Period)

Adze (Period)

An adze is a woodworking tool related to the axe, but distinguished by its hooked, transverse blade.  It’s used for shaping or dressing timber.  While there are several charges in period armory that can be interpreted as adzes (as in, e.g., the arms of Rodensteyn, c.1370 [Gelre 44v], on which the illustration is based), their identification is unconfirmed as of this writing.  The adze is palewise, head to chief by Society default.  For related charges, see hoe.

Sigridr Rognvaldsdottir bears:  Vert, an adze reversed Or within a bordure compony argent and azure.

This entry was posted on November 14, 2013, in .

Allocamelus

Allocamelus statant (Period)

Allocamelus statant (Period)

The allocamelus is an heraldic monster described as having the head of an ass and a body with a camel’s hump; it’s sometimes called an “ass-camel” in the heraldic literature, and may be a period attempt to describe a llama.  Its sole period instance is as the crest of the Eastland Company, 1579, used without authority [Dennys 147].  The allocamelus is nonetheless permissible for Society use.

There doesn’t seem to be a default posture for the allocamelus; the illustration shows an allocamelus statant.

Myfanwy ferch Rhiannon bears as a badge:  An allocamelus passant purpure charged with an escallop argent.

This entry was posted on November 15, 2013, in .

Alphyn

Alphyn passant (Period)

Alphyn passant (Period)

The alphyn is a monster with a body similar to that of a tyger; its other characteristics vary, but it is most commonly shown with eagle’s forelegs and a knotted tail.  It was used as a badge by the Lords de la Warre, c.1476 [Dennys 146].  Etymological evidence suggests that the alphyn and the enfield are both variants of the same non-heraldic monster.

The alphyn does not seem to have a default posture; the illustration shows an alphyn passant.

Angelo di Antonio Machiavelli bears:  Quarterly sable and azure, an alphyn passant argent.

Alyson Throckmorton bears:  Lozengy vert and Or, an alphyn passant purpure.

Dunstan Godricson bears:  Per fess and per chevron throughout gules and argent, three alphyns passant argent.

This entry was posted on November 15, 2013, in .

Altar

Altar (Period)

Altar (Period)

An altar is a stone block or pillar topped with a flame.  The flame, though part of the definition of the charge, is nonetheless sometimes specified:  e.g., “an altar flammant”.  The heraldic altar appears to represent a Pagan altar, rather than the Christian or Jewish altars [Franklyn 7]; it’s found in the arms of Tendryngg, 1340 [DBA3 357].  See also edifice.

Arthur Glendower bears:  Or, between two lions combatant azure an altar sable flammant gules.

Una MacRobert bears:  Vert, an altar argent between three vols Or.

Asa Gormsdottir bears:  Per chevron sable and gules, four bezants and an altar argent enflamed Or.

This entry was posted on November 15, 2013, in .

Amphisbaena

Amphisbaena statant (Accepted)

Amphisbaena statant (Accepted)

This monster is a dragon with bird’s wings and a head at either end – rather like the “pushme-pullyu” of the Dr. Dolittle stories.  The name comes from the Greek (amphis, bainein, “to go both ways”):  in classic Greek myth, it’s a serpent with a head at either end.  Bossewell, 1572 [II.63] describes the amphisbaena but gives no picture; Brooke-Little [Her.Alph 33] has shown it was never actually used in mundane armory.

The amphisbaena used in Society armory seems to be a conflation of two forms of amphisbaena from medieval bestiaries:  one with wings and two feet (as in the Aberdeen Bestiary, c.1200) and one with four feet but no wings (as in the Bestiary in the Netherlands National Library, c.1350).  There doesn’t seem to be a default posture; the illustration shows an amphisbaena statant.

Edward the Gentle bears:  Argent, an amphisbaena statant respectant vert, winged Or, gorged of two oak wreaths Or connected between the wings by a chain containing three Catherine wheels sable, in base a point pointed gules.

Ricola of Fenhop bears:  Or, an amphisbaena passant gules within a bordure gules bezanty.

Solveig Langlif bears:  Per pale purpure and Or, an amphisbaena, heads reguardant, between three crescents counterchanged.

This entry was posted on November 15, 2013, in .

Amphora

Amphora

Amphora (Accepted)

Jug (Accepted)

Jug (Accepted)

An amphora is an ancient Greek storage vessel, with a constricted neck and two handles (Greek amphi, phoreus, “double handles”). Though a period artifact, we’ve no examples of the amphora in period armory. The default form in Society armory has a flat bottom, as in the illustration; this was often a painted luxury item in ancient Greece [Singer, plate 18]. The utilitarian “wine amphora” has a pointed base, instead of a flat base.

Similar to the amphora is the “jug”, usually with a rounder body and narrower neck, and made to be carried by one person. For related charges, see bottle, vase.

The Calontir Waterbearer’s Guild bears: Azure, on a two-handled jug fesswise reversed argent, distilling a gout d’eau charged with a gout de larme, a cross of Calatrava azure.

Alisoun MacCoul of Elphane bears: Or, a black-figure neck amphora, cracked in chief proper.

Lina Hen bears: Per chevron ermine and gules, in base a wine amphora Or.

Claudia Prima bears: Gules, three amphorae Or.

This entry was posted on November 15, 2013, in .

Anchor

Anchor (Period)

Anchor (Period)

An anchor is a weighted hook that moors a ship.  It’s frequently found in period armory, as in the arms of Skipton, c.1410 [TJ 1507].

Heraldry has special terms for some parts of an anchor:  the shank (upright) is blazoned the “beam”, the stock (crosspiece) is the “timber”.  The timber is to chief by default, but anchors inverted were not uncommon in period heraldry.  An “anchor fouled of its cable” has its cable wrapped around the beam.

There were some variation in the heraldic depiction of the anchor; the illustration is taken from de Bara’s Blason des Armoiries, 1581 [64].  For related charges, see grappling iron.

Molle of Norwiche bears:  Sable, three anchors argent.

John of the Rudder bears:  Gules, an anchor Or.

Aethelstan Osricson bears:  Or, three anchors in pall, rings to center vert.

This entry was posted on November 15, 2013, in .

Andirons, pair of

Pair of dog-headed andirons (Period)

Pair of dog-headed andirons (Period)

A pair of andirons are a metal stand, used for holding logs in a fireplace; they are modernly also known as “firedogs”.  Andirons are found in period rolls, in the attributed arms of the King of Ethiopia, mid-16th C. [NW 92].

Period heraldic examples show andirons conjoined in pairs, frequently decorated with animal or human heads; the type of heads should be specified in the blazon.  The illustration shows a pair of dog-headed andirons.

Diterich Schwarcz bears:  Sable, a pair of dog-headed andirons conjoined respectant and on a chief argent a rose gules.

Galfryd Yrinmonger bears:  Argent, a pair of dog-headed andirons conjoined respectant and on a chief purpure a smith’s hammer argent.

Pádraig Lowther bears as a badge:  A pair of swan-headed andirons conjoined respectant argent.

This entry was posted on November 15, 2013, in .