The ape is a simian beast, which the medievals considered a mockery of man. Period armory didn’t distinguish between an “ape” (which has no tail) and a “monkey” (which does); Society armory makes the distinction for the sake of the artist. Both forms are found as period charges: the ape, as early as c.1340 in the arms of Affenstein [Zurich 241] and as late as 1605 in the arms of von Prag [Siebmacher 21]; the monkey, in the arms of de Aymo, mid-15th C. [Triv 47] and as the crest of FitzGerald, 1601 [Bedingfeld 59]. Society armory also permits more specific forms to be registered (e.g., the “gorilla”, the “spider monkey”, &c), so long as they were known to period Europe.
When statant or passant, the ape is on all fours, in the manner of beasts (unlike humans, who are statant or passant on two feet). If an ape is “collared” or “chained”, the collar goes around its waist, not its neck. Of usages peculiar to the Society, the ape “in its vanity” is gazing into a hand mirror that it’s grasping in its hand.
The illustration shows an ape (monkey) passant and collared. See also human figure.
Estasia de Fiorenza bears: Argent, a monkey sejant erect in its vanity, chained gules.
Ysabeau de Vézelay bears: Purpure, an ape passant Or.
Shait ben Mikha’el bears: Per pale purpure and gules, two gorillas statant respectant argent.