Wednesday, 29 January 2014

FMP Research: Heraldry

Heraldry: a completely new term to me and it is now part of the growing list of castle dictionary I have accumulated, at this rate I could settle for a career as an architect with this knowledge!

It is basically the system of creating coats of arms and other armory bearings, many other terms have a second meaning when it comes to heraldry. For example achievement refers to a full display of a coat of arms components. In general it is called the latter but in the terminology of heraldry its incorrect.

Attitude: it refers to the position of the beast emblazoned, regardless of its role. Many attitudes are used by predators  such as the lion, eagle, griffin and dragon, which are the most common featured beasts. Furthermore the beast may be additionally described by other parts of its body. Such as if its teeth and fangs are bared, if its tongue is out and the positioning of the tail, having the latter between the tail is a sign of a coward etc.

The positioning of the figure in question is also a factor hat has to be considered, my research has shown that all beasts are always facing the viewers left, 'to dexter' as it is officially known. Dexter is the Latin translation of right. whereas sinister is left - this is from the views of the bearer to the shield, so if I were wielding one, the right to me would be the left of whoever was looking at me. Yeah I'll let you get that around your head...

other positions include looking straight at the viewer (affronte)and  looking in the opposite direction as if over its shoulder (regardant).

Several types of attitudes reserved for lions include:

- Rampant: A rearing up position with the front paws raised. The hind legs position varies however as many examples feature them apart as if moving.

- Passant: A striding position facing dexter, with one paw often raised.

- Sejant: In a seating position, if its front arms are raised then it is sejant erect.

- Dormant: The clues in the name, lying down with its eyes closed. This is an odd choice because it doesn't really convoy strength or power it its asleep!

- Salient: A leaping position, its also the rarest for lions. Often reserved for stags and more docile animals featured on crests.

Combine these attitudes with the directions to give the official name for the beast, such as 
Lion Rampant Regardant or Lion Passant Guardant.

Personally the sight of a lion up on its hind legs is the most intimidating so I'm in favor of the rampant position to dexter. Pretty standard yet effective.

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