Terrouge E-zine Archives
The Amazing Talking Shield! Terrouge's New Coat of Arms
By: Sean A.
This article has come about due to the lovely coat of arms Terrouge picked up this month! Our coat of arms is an example of the art of heraldry, the process of blazoning, or announcing, the contents of a shield to an audience.
Originally, a shield was used not only as a defense, but a way to announce who you were if you happened to be wearing a helmet at the time. The method of heraldry description and announcement is fairly simple:
-The divisions (if any) followed by the color of the field, or background, of the shield (also known as an escutcheon), including a border, if present.
-After that, the herald announces the charges, or symbols, starting in the center, then the top left, and working to the bottom right.
-Finally, the helmet and supporters (Two figures, one on either side of the shield), if present, are described.
To make things a little simpler to understand, the crest for Terrouge will be blazoned (described in heraldic terms) and then broken down into its component parts.
Argent and or party per cross embattled gules, a merman common in chief dexter, a crescent gules, an acorn common, a hawk azure in base sinister.
"Argent and or":
In heraldry, each color has a special meaning and name. The most common colors and what they represent are as follows:
-Or: Gold. (Usually represented as yellow, though it's been made to look nice and sparkly for this crest.) This color represents both generosity and elevation of the mind.
-Argent: Silver (Usually represented as white-- again, it looks nice and shiny on Terrouge's crest). This color represents peace and sincerity.
-Sable: Black. This is the color of constancy and, sometimes, grief.
-Azure: Blue. The color of loyalty, and truth.
-Gules: Red. Represents military strength and magnanimity.
-Vert: Green. Stands for hope, joy, and sometimes loyalty in love.
-Purpure: Purple. This is the color of royalty and justice.
-Tenne, Tawney: Orange. Worthy ambition.
-Murray, Sanguine: Maroon. Bearers of this color are patient in battle, but win at the end.
So, in this case, the bearers of this shield (Terrouge) are mentally elevated, peaceful, and sincere.
" . . . party per cross embattled gules":
This is the division meaning 'parted by a cross' into four roughly rectangular areas, as shown on the escutcheon of Terrouge's crest. Other divisions include party per pale (three vertical strips), party per bend (Three diagonal strips), party saltire (split with an X shape), and chief or base; these mean 'split into two horizontal areas'. Which term is used depends on which color you want in each part; a field or chief azure would be gold on the bottom and blue on the top.
While the various divisions of a shield don't usually have a meaning attached to them, the lines used to divide them do. Although they will not be described here, those of you interested can find a list of the different lines in the references used for this article. 'Embattled', the type of line used on Terrouge's crest, represents either fire or the walls of a city.
" . . . a merman common in chief dexter:"
This describes the first of the charges, or symbols, on the shield: A merman, in the top-left corner. The word 'common' refers to the fact that he's naturally colored, rather than being colored in, say, blue.
Charges are the main part of heraldry. Each charge has a meaning or meanings attached to it. A full list, or even a list of the more common charges, would take up a lot of space, so I've decided to explain our four charges as examples. If you would like to learn more about heraldry, try this site: http://digiserve.com/heraldry/.
To begin with, the merman or mermaid symbolizes eloquence. This charge is simple to explain; reporters and writers must be eloquent. The fact that it's denoted as being 'in chief dexter' is important: it tells you that the merman adorns the top left of the shield. If no positioning is given, the charge is assumed to be in the center of the shield.
Readers of the book Mattimeo should recognize the word 'dexter', as will any student of Latin; it's the word for 'right' in that language- so why, you ask, is the charge on the left? Simple. It's the viewer's left, but the bearer's right.
". . . a crescent gules":
When dealing with a divided heraldric shield like the one we have here, the charges are assumed to be in the following order: Top left, top right, bottom left, bottom right. The next charge, therefore, is the red crescent, a crescent being the heraldic symbol for authority from above.
This second charge stands for Terrouge's endorsement by Redwall.Org
" . . . an acorn common":
Following the order, this is the bottom-left charge; an acorn, in its usual colors. Acorns and oak trees are both symbols of strength and antiquity. This denotes that Terrouge has been around for a long time and is still going strong.
" . . . a hawk azure in base sinister":
The final charge on Terrouge's crest is a hawk; this is the symbol for one who will not rest until their task is finished; it's rendered in blue (remember blue is the color of loyalty and truth). The job of the reporters here is to bring you the news, we won't rest until that is done, and we do our best to ensure the things we report are true. The position of this charge is noted just to double-check things though it's not strictly necessary.
-This is just a simple crest- there are far more elaborate ones to be found.
-This is a lord's or organization's crest: Those for churches and ladies are shaped like tall ovals.
-The use of charges as puns on a name (for example, an anvil on the Smith family crest) is called canting arms; this has been done with the party per cross embattled gules on the Terrouge crest: it's a red wall.
-Official coats of arms have to be registered, and that costs a lot of money. Terrouge does not have an official coat of arms, but rather an unofficial crest.
-Finally, the motto under the crest does not have to be the name of the person or organization-- it can be anything.