Arrow; Arrowhead

Arrow (Period)

Arrow (Period)

An arrow is a feathered shaft, shot from a bow or crossbow as a missile.  It’s found in the allusive arms of Archer, 1320 [DBA1 10].

The arrow’s default orientation is palewise, point down.  When fesswise, its default orientation is with point to sinister; this is sometimes blazoned explicitly.  An “arrow proper” has a brown shaft and black head, with its feathers, or fletching, to be specified; the blazonry term for the fletching is “flighted”, e.g., “an arrow gules flighted azure.”  The head and feathers are drawn greatly exaggerated in size.

Sheaf of arrows

Sheaf of arrows (Period)

A “sheaf of arrows” is a bundle of three arrows, two in saltire and one palewise, bound where they cross.


Arrow notch (currently Acceptable); forked arrow (Period)

Japanese arrow notch (probable SFPP); forked arrow (Period)

Of the variant forms of arrow in medieval armory, the most common is the “bird-bolt”, with a wide blunt tip; it’s also termed a “bird-blunt” or a “boson”.  It’s a period charge, dating from c.1285, in the canting arms of Bozon [ANA2 211].  Somewhat rarer is the “forked arrow”, with a two-pronged point designed to slash, rather than pierce; it’s found in the arms of Prunnster, c.1600 [BSB 307:620], but may be more familiar as a charge found in Japanese Mon [Hawley 53].

Japanese Mon have proven the basis for several arrow-like charges in Society heraldry.  In addition to the forked arrow, supra, we have the “Japanese arrow notch” (yahaza), as found in the Mon of Saiki [Hawley 54]:  this is the section of the shaft with the feathers and nock, drawn in a stylized form.

Fire-arrow (Acceptable); boson (Period)

Fire-arrow (Accepted); boson (Period)

Several variant types of arrows are unique to Society armory:  A “fire-arrow” is an arrow with pitch-soaked cloth wrapped near the point, and enflamed.  A “quarrel” is a short arrow with feathers down its length; it’s used in crossbows, rather than longbows.  A “whistling arrow” is a 13th C. Mongolian artifact, with holes in the point to create a whistle as the arrow flies; as a non-European artifact, its use is considered a step from period practice.

Quarrel, whistling arrow

Quarrel (Accepted); Mongolian whistling arrow (SFPP)





Elf-bolt (Acceptable); arrow fletching (Acceptable)

Elf-bolt (Accepted); arrow fletching (Accepted)

An “arrowhead”, without qualification, is drawn simply as a generic barbed point; it’s a usual English term for the rogacina of Polish armory.  An “elf-bolt” is a stone arrowhead, chipped and flaked; prehistoric specimens found by the ancients were attributed to the Little People.  The “arrow fletching”, the feathered end of the shaft, is found in the Mon of Hatori Masanari, d.1596 [Hawley 54]; but as such fletchings are indistinguishable from European arrow fletchings, they are blazoned without qualification.

Crescent-shaped arrowhead (Period)

Crescent-shaped arrowhead (Period)

Finally, the “crescent-shaped arrowhead” is a forked arrowhead, with two points.  It’s a period artifact; the charge (or one very similar) is found in the arms of Motringer, mid-16th C. [NW 36].  The illustration is taken from Motringer.

For related charges, see pheon, spearhead.

The Order of Artemis, of the East, bears:  A sheaf of arrows azure.

Rumil Fletcher bears:  Azure, three arrows Or.

Loran Redbow bears:  Azure, three fire-arrows bendwise sinister in bend argent, enflamed proper.Styrbjorg Ulfethnar bears:  Argent, a demi-wolf salient proper, charged upon the shoulder with an elf-bolt argent, and issuant from a valknut gules.

Evan y Helfarch ap Llewellyn bears:  Erminois, on a pale gules in chief two bird blunts in saltire surmounted by an arrow inverted Or, a base counterchanged.

Kuji Ka Onimusashi bears:  Vert, a sheaf of forked arrows inverted surmounted by a three-pronged vajhra fesswise Or.

Daimon Isamu bears:  Argent, two axes, blades to center, between their handles two Japanese arrow notches in saltire, all gules.

Karin Ollesdotter av Augvaldsnes bears as a badge:  In fess a whistling arrow inverted vert sustained by a seahorse gules.

Rees of Northwoods bears:  Quarterly azure and gules, four arrowheads inverted argent.

Walkelin Montgomery bears:  Argent, three arrow fletchings in pall, shafts to center, a bordure sable.

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