The following links are to pages that contain images that you can use to help design your armory -- this set of images are for heraldic beast, monster, and bird parts. These "parts" are things such as heads, tails, jambes (fore-legs), and such that are used in heraldry sometimes as independant charges.
Instructions (please read):If you want to use this for your heraldic submission, or print it for any reason, click on the 'PDF File' link -- a new browser window will open, and you can print from there.
Note that printing the GIF Files may not provide images that are the correct size for the heraldic submission forms.
Note: These are not done yet -- the links are here to make it easier for Golem, rather than having to keep adding them ... this is a work in progress.
Descriptions:The descriptions of the beasts and monsters below are all taken from The Pictorial Dictionary of Heraldry ...1, and rather than having a 'footnote' for each, we have one. Note that not all of the detail in the Pictorial Dictionary has been included in the text given ...
Heads, Beasts and Monsters (rather than putting all of this in for each head shown below ...):
Animal's heads are an ancient heraldic motif, dating from at least 1255. Any beast found in heraldry may have its head used as a separate charge; indeed, in some cases (e.g. the boar) the use of the head predates the use of the whole animal.
Most animal's heads face dexter by default; the exception is the owl's head, which is guardant by default. The line of division is specified, i.e., whether the head be couped or erased; the head is usually severed where the neck meets the shoulders. A head couped close is severed just behind the ears, with no neck included. The exact manner of severence is worth no heraldic difference.
A head cabossed or caboshed is guardant with no neck showing. Some animals have special terminology for this posture: Fox's heads cabossed are called fox's masks, cat's heads cabossed are called cat's faces (ditto leopards).
A pelican's head includes its neck and part of its breast, distilling blood. A head jessant-de-lys is a head cabossed with a fleur-de-lys issuant from the mouth and back of the head; this is an ancient usage, found in the arms of Cantelupe c.1298.
In all other respects, the characteristics of any animal's head are those of the animal, and may be found under the entry for that animal.
Monster's heads follow the same conventions as animal's heads. There are some special items of note: for example, the dragon's head is severed at the shoulders unless otherwise specified; the term is sometimes used to denote the figurehead of a Viking dragonship (drakkar). The male griffin's head is shown with rays and spikes issuant, to distinguish it from a standard griffin's head.
In addition to the descriptions above, Friar (A Dictionary of Heraldry, Stephen Friar, Harmony Books, ISBN: 0-517-56665-6) notes these descriptions of terms:
Couped -- Cut short by a straight horizontal line.
Couped Close -- Cut short by a straight vertical line.
Erased -- Torn off in a horizontal plane leaving a ragged edge.
Erased Close -- Torn off in a vertical plane leaving a ragged edge.
|Antlers and Horns||
An animal's horn is a hard, pointed projection that grows from certain
animals' heads. The type of animal must be specified. The most common forms in
medieval armory are deer's horns and bull's horns; Society armory includes
unicorn's horns (sometimes blazoned narwhal's horns or narwhal's teeth,
and ram's horns. These all tend to have their points to chief or to
dexter by default.|
Deer's antlers have special terms to describe them. A single deer's antler is termed an attire, and is found in German heraldry as early as 1244, in the arms of the Counts of Württemberg; its default posture is fesswise, with the stump to dexter. The full rack of antler's may be termed a deer's attires or a massacre; if joined to a scrap of flesh, these may also be called a deer's scalp. The set of attires is shown as found on a deer guardant: spread symetrically with points to chief. The exact number of points is left to the artist.
Bull's horns, or buffalo's horns, are found in German armory as early as 1413, where they are drawn in a highly stylized manner. The German stylization, in fact, sometimes caused the charge to be misblazoned by French and English heralds as elephant's trunks! Horns that are intended to be drawn more naturalistically would be better blazoned cow horns, the English practice.
|Bone||A bone is a member of the hard endostructure found in most vertebrates. The default heraldic bone is the human femur, or its visual equivalent (the tibia, the ulna: shank-bone, shin-bone, arm-bone); it is palewise by default.|
|Ear||An ear is an organ for hearing. It does not seem to have been used in period armory; it is permitted in Society armory. The type of animal to which the ear belonged must be blazoned.|
An eye is an organ for seeing. It was used as an heraldic charge in the badge
of Blount, c.1520. The default heraldic eye is the human type; when tinctured
proper, the iris is blue.|
Other eye variants found in Society heraldry include the cyclopean eye, which is perfectly round; [and] the cat's eye, with a slitted pupil ...
|Head -- Badger|
|Head -- Bear|
|Head -- Boar|
|Head -- Cat|
|Head -- Crow|
|Head -- Deer|
|Head -- Dog|
|Head -- Dragon|
|Head -- Eagle|
|Head -- Elephant|
|Head -- Fox|
|Head -- Goat|
|Head -- Gryphon|
|Head -- Horse|
|Head -- Human||
As with some animal heads, the use of human heads in armory predates that of
full human figures, as in the arms of Wenlock, 1348. Some human heads are affronty
or guardant by default, but others aren't; it depends on the type of human.
As a rule of thumb, men (Saracens, blackamoors, etc.) face dexter by default,
while children, maidens, etc., are affronty.|
The savage's head and the wild man's head are shown with a wreath of leaves on their heads, since the leaves on the rest of their bodies are not in evidence. In other respects, the characteristics of a human head are those of that type of human ...
As with animal's heads, human heads must be specifically blazoned as couped or erased; couped heads are far more common. While the dexter-facing heads are couped at the neck, children and maidens are sometimes shown as a bust, showing the shoulders (and, in the maiden's case, the bosom). This is not an iconclad rule, and seems to be artistic license; if the shoulders are meant to be included, they should be blazoned.
Also included in this category are the heads of humanoid monsters, particularly those which exist only as a head. The seraph or seraph's head, is a child's head cabossed, with six wings; its proper coloration is with pink skin, red hair, and rainbow-colored wings. (It should not be confused with the standing seraph, a variant of the angel, which is shown with a full body.) The cherub, or cherub's head, is a child's head cabossed, with two wings. The gorgon's head, taken from the monster of Greek myth, is a woman's head with serpents for hair; though normally shown cabossed, its posture has always been explicitly blazoned. Finally, there is the demon's head, horned and ugly, much like a Notre Dame gargoyle.
|Head -- Human Skull|
|Head -- Jessant-de-Lys||"... in which a fleur-de-lis enfiles a leopard's head as though thrust upward through its mouth to emerge from the top of the head."2|
|Head -- Lion||By default a lion's head has a mane. However, the Ounce is a lion without a mane. The ounce's head can be used for a catamount, cougar, cheetah, natural leopard, natural panther, natural tiger, etc. Most of the great cats heads look very similar ...|
|Head -- Martin|
|Head -- Owl|
|Head -- Panther||This is the 'Monster' called a Panther -- for a natural panther see the Lion's Head category above.|
|Head -- Pelican|
|Head -- Rabbit|
|Head -- Sheep (includes Ram)|
|Head -- Swan|
|Head -- Tyger||This is the 'Monster' called a Tyger -- for a natural tiger or Bengal Tiger see the Lion's Head category above.|
|Head -- Unicorn|
|Head -- Wolf|
|Leg - Beast||
be specified whether the leg is erased or couped.|
Some animal's legs have special terms in blazonry. A lion's leg may be called it's gambe or jambe; as a charge, it dates from at least 1413, in the arms of von Litaw. (A dragon's leg may also be called it's jambe.)
Lion's ... jambes are erect by default, with their claws to chief.
|Leg - Bird||
be specified whether the leg is erased or couped.|
Bird's legs may be severed a la quise, at the thigh; this usage dates from at least 1336.
... bird's legs are foot down by default.
|Leg, Arm, Hand, Foot - Human||
An arm is a human upper limb. By default, this includes the entire arm, couped
just below the shoulder, unvested, and with clenched fist. It is found as a charge in
Scots heraldry as early as 1215, in the arms of MacMoylin.|
The arm is most commonly shown as a dexter arm erect, the elbow slightly bent to dexter; sometimes this is explicitly blazoned as embowed. An arm fesswise embowed has its fist to dexter, the elbow to base.
A cubit arm is an arm cut off below the elbow; it's erect by default, and again the fist is clenched. Arms are frequently found armored, and less commonly vested.
A hand is a human appendage used for grasping and holding; it is found in the
canting arms of Malmains, c.1275. The default hand is the dexter hand; the default posture
is apaumy and couped. Sinister hands are also met with. Current SCA
practice is to explicitly blazon which hand (left or right) and its posture.
The hand is unclothed by default; sometimes it is found issuant from a cuff.
Legs are limbs used for locomation. Any creature may
contribute a leg to heraldry; human legs seem to be the default. It should
be specified whether the leg is erased or couped.
Prints are the impressions made by either animal paws or human feet;
they are more fully termed pawprints or footprints. A single
example of hoofprints has been found in German armory; pawprints
are thus accepted (though discouraged) for SCA use.|
While the type of animal may be blazoned, little if any heraldic difference is granted between various prints. They are shown with the toe-marks to chief by SCA default.
|Scale, Dragon's||A dragon's scale (ryurin) is a stylized charge from Japanese Mon, meant to represent a portion of a dragon's armored skin. Its point is to chief by default.|
A tail is the caudal appendage of some beast, bird, or monster, used
as a separate charge in its own right. The type of creature must be
specified in the blazon; period armory has examples of lion's tails
(in the arms of Pynchebek, c.1584) and fox's tails (the badge of
Thomas of Woodstock, d.1397). Society armory has examples of
dragon's tails and yak's tails, among others. Tails are erased
by default, with the severed end to base. |
The term queue refers specifically to a lion's tail. It may be fourchy (forked), or nowed (knotted), just as though attached to the lion.
|Tongue||A tongue is the movable muscular structure found in most beast's mouths. It rarely occurs as an independant charge, but there is one example of a dragon's tongue in Society heraldry.|
A tooth is a bone-like structure set in the jaws of most vertebrates,
used for biting and crushing food, displaying threats, and smiling.
A tooth that comes to a point may also be called a fang ...|
The fang has been ... disallowed for Society heraldry, due to its lack of ready identifiability. A similar charge, the tusk, is still permitted: an elephant's tooth, couped and with point to chief by default.
In mundane heraldry, the tooth is normally depicted as a human molar, with the roots extending to base; it is blazoned (somewhat confusingly) as a fanged tooth. It is found more often in Continental heraldry.
Wolves' teeth are a highly stylized German charge, consisting of three or four curved points issuant from the side of the shield. They are usually issuant from sinister; that fact, and the number of points, are always blazoned.
Wings are the limbs of a flying creature, which provide the lifting force.
Those of birds are feathered, those of bats membranous; the feathered wing
is the default type, to be used unless otherwise specified.|
A wing may be used as a single charge; in such a case, the wing is a dexter wing, and is displayed by default. This usage dates from c.1290. In German heraldry, the single wing may terminate in a hand (often brandishing a sword), or in an eagle's head; such variations are always blazoned.
More often, however, wings are found in pairs, with a dexter and a sinister wing conjoined. (The difference is subtly blazoned: two separate, dexter wings, would be blazoned two wings, while a dexter and a sinister wing conjoined would be a pair of wings.) This usage dates from c.1290.
A pair of wings conjoined may also be blazoned a vol; they are by default displayed. If the conjoined wings are displayed, tips inverted, they are known as wings conjoined in lure.
1 The Pictorial Dictionary of Heraldry as Used in the Society for Creative Anachronism, Inc., 2nd Edition, Bruce Draconarius of Mistholme and Akagawa Yoshio, 1992, self-published.
2 A Dictionary of Heraldry, Stephen Friar, 1987, Harmony Books, ISBN: 0-517-56665-6
|Disclaimer: All of these drawings are intended for use in the Society for Creative Anachronism, Inc., specifically for heraldic purposes. However, these pages do not delineate SCA College of Arms or West Kingdom College of Heralds policy. All attempts are made when describing or portraying the elements of armory used in these pages to be as accurate to both medieval and SCA usage as possible, but if you are not sure, you should check with the College of Arms or the College of Heralds. You may use these drawings "as is" for the purpose of designing heraldry for use within the SCA with this understanding. All decisions by the West Kingdom College of Heraldry and/or the SCA's College of Arms regarding the depictions used on your submission forms supercedes anything found here.|