What do the symbols on the arms mean?
The study of the arms is engaged in a special science - heraldry. Its roots go back to the times of the early Middle Ages, when the first family, city and state emblems appeared. At the same time, the first rules of heraldry were developed, according to which it was supposed to place figures, inscriptions and even colors on the coats of arms in a strictly defined order. Indeed, in those times imbued with mysticism, each image had to bear some hidden supreme meaning, so each heraldic element was assigned a specific symbolic interpretation.
If you are interested in knowing what a coat of arms is, you can read more about this in our other article. Here we consider in detail the types of coats of arms. The main heraldic symbols are primarily colors (scientifically called tinctures). In total, nine tinctures are allowed in heraldry. These include heraldic metals, enamels (colors) and furs.
What heraldic symbols mean: tinctures
- Metals. There are only two of them in heraldry.Gold symbolizes wealth, of course, and silver innocence.
- Enamel. Heraldry uses five primary colors. Each of them has the following meanings: red means courage and fearlessness, azure means loyalty and honesty, emerald means hope and freedom, purple means moderation in everything and piety, and black is a symbol of sadness and caution.
- Furs. On the arms you can depict two types of fur - squirrel and ermine. Both of them symbolize the nobility of the origin of the owner of the coat of arms.
The next numerous group of stamps are birds and animals, including mythical ones. These are, perhaps, the most interesting heraldic symbols, therefore it is worth telling about them in more detail.
What the heraldic symbols mean: animals
Numerous representatives of the animal world adorn the family coat of arms for a reason. All of them are designed to display certain qualities of the owners of the coat of arms. Most often you can see eagles and lions on the coat of arms, which, incidentally, is understandable: royal persons have always been in a special honor.
- The eagle is a symbol of power, might and power. No wonder in many religions the eagles were considered the constant companions of the gods.In heraldry, the eagles are not only ordinary - single heads. An eagle with two heads is found on the coats of arms at least of its single-head brother. The origin of this symbol is not entirely clear. Most scientists, however, agree that the two heads symbolize the unification of the two parts of the country into a single whole. An indisputable proof of this version is the Russian double-headed eagle, symbolizing the unity of the European and Asian parts of Russia.
- The lion is probably the most common symbol in heraldry. It symbolizes courage, strength and power. Sometimes a leopard is replaced by a leopard on the coat of arms, but this doesn’t affect the appearance of the animal. Leopard skin stains are not drawn on the coat of arms. It is possible to distinguish a lion from a leopard only by the pose of the beast. If he is standing on two hind legs and looking away, this is a lion, and if he is on three legs with one raised and at the same time looking directly at the viewer, then this is a leopard.
- The wolf is placed on the coat of arms as a sign of victory over a greedy, cunning and evil opponent.
- The snake, biting its tail (also called Ouroboros), symbolizes eternal life and infinity.
- Pelican is a recognized symbol of self-sacrifice and selfless service for the benefit of others.
- The rooster is a symbol of the watchful guard and the intrepid warrior, who is ready to rush into battle on the first signal of his commander.
In addition to real-life animals, different fictional creatures are often depicted on coats of arms, described in detail in bestiaries - medieval books about fantastic monsters. What do the symbols on the arms with the images of mythical creatures mean?
- The griffin is a monster with the body of a lion and an eagle head. Frequent guest on the medieval coat of arms. Symbolizes a combination of the power of a lion and the pride and independence inherent in the eagle.
- The dragon is another very common heraldic symbol. According to one of the versions, the winged four-legged lizard symbolized a brave and fearless defender of the castle. The dragon with its head down, the so-called “defeated dragon”, was depicted on the arms as a sign of the victory of good over evil.
- Martlet - a strange bird, something like a swallow, but completely devoid of paws. And why should she need them! Martlet - the messenger of the gods, residing in perpetual flight, she has no time to rest.Therefore, it was placed on the coat of arms of the fourth in the family of the son, who, by law, was not entitled to inheritance, and he was forced to tire himself to earn his daily bread by unremitting labor.
- Phoenix - the legendary eternal bird, time after time reborn from the ashes. The coat of arms is depicted like an eagle, painted in scarlet and golden color. Symbolizes eternal renewal and immortality.
- Unicorn - snow-white horse with a twisted horn on his forehead. According to Christian traditions, it is considered a symbol of innocence and purity.
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