Positions of Animals and Monsters
In period armory, beasts and monsters were drawn such that their main features were easily seen and identified, and this convention should continue to be used. To show their features to the best advantage a variety of "poses" or attitudes were adopted for beasts. Since the features of land-based beasts are different from those of water or air-based beasts, there are different attitudes for each category. One thing to note is that the default position for a beast or monster to be facing is to dexter (the viewer's left). The following list most of the known postures for beasts, though by no means is it comprehensive.
Animal and Beast positioning is broken into three categories Sea, Land, and Air. Each of these areas covers the basic poses that are used in heraldry. It is in no way a complete list of components. Categories not included are insects,reptiles,and amphibians with all have poses that are unique to them.
In addition to the normal postures, there are a few other postures that involve multiple beasts or a beast and another object. Creatures that don't really have a front or a back when viewed in a heraldic position aren't blazoned in this fashion.
Combatant any two carnivorous beasts facing one another across the center line of division
Respectant any two peaceful beasts facing one another across the center line of division.
Sustaining a beast may hold a large object in two paws/talons.
The object must be large enough that it could be used as a separate charge group.
Eddorsed any two beasts back to back.Do not confuse with addorsed with regard to wings of avians.
Minor changes to a beast include the position of the head or the tail, tinctures of minor details such as eyes, claws. None of these changes will count as a difference between two beasts.Such details are usually too small to be noticed at a distance.
Regardant applied to any beast-- looking over its shoulder
Guardant applied to any beast-- looking out towards viewer
Maintaining a beast may hold a small object in a single paw /mouth / beak / talon / etc.
Nowed(or knowed) in a loop or knot-- used to describe tails and serpents
Armed refers to the tincture of the claws, teeth and horns (and beak of a bird or monster).
Langued refers to the tincture of the tounge.
Crined refers to the tincture of the mane or hair (of humanoids)
Coward with tail between legs (for tailed beasts and monsters)
Vorant beast is eating another (small) beast.
Flamant for traditionally fire-breathing beasts, flames issue from the mouth
Orbed refers to the tincture of the eyes
Queued refers to the tincture of the tail
Cabossed simply a frontal view of the animal's face. The neck is not shown in this depiction.
Couped a side view of the head with the neck shown. The neck ends in a simple horizontal line.
Erased Similar to couped, but the neck ends in a ragged edge.
Couped close a side view of the head only.
Under the Sea (fish)
Fish are fairly simple to blazon. There are only four basic postures for a fish. However, there is one "fish" that is a bit different--the dolphin. Normally we think of a porpoise as a dolphin. In actuality, there is an heraldic dolphin that is classified as a "monster". The heraldic dolphin is blazoned the same way as any other fish, however, when drawn, they are depicted in a reverse "S-curve" shape.
Hauriant positioned vertically with heads rising upwards a common posture.
Urinant positioned vertically with heads sinking downwards -a rare posture.
Erect applies to any sea monster--the top half is essentially rampant and the bottom half is coiled into a loop.
Naiant swimming fesswise -a common posture.
Embowed applies to any fish that has its body arched as if it were leaping. Think of hauriant with the fish curved in an arc with the bend to the right. Sometimes it is emblazoned naiant embowed (period French) where the fish forms an "arch".
Beasts of the Ground
Statant beast is standing still on all four legs--all legs should be visible. Less common than passant.
Sejant beast is seated with forelegs down and together. Tail is up by default if the beast has a tail.
Passant beast is walking (or running) with far foreleg raised and far hind leg moved slightly forward. A common posture for non-carnivorous beasts.
Salient beast is leaping or jumping--forelegs off ground (forcene for horses). Rare in period.
Affronte beast is facing viewer. The normal posture is sejant.Rare in period
Sejant Erect beast is seated, but has forelegs off ground as if attacking.
Rampant beast is standing upright on one hind leg (segreant for winged monsters) with forelegs outstretched as if attacking. A common posture for carnivorous beasts and monsters.
Dormant beast is sleeping--essentially couchant with head down. If the beast has a tail it is down and coiled around the animal. Very rare in period.
Couchant beast is lying on all fours with its head erect like the sphinx (lodged for deer). The tail curls under the body of the animal and emerges just ahead of the haunches then rises above the back. Appears to be rare in period, except for a few animals, such as the dog and the stag.
Beasts of the Air
In its Vigilance reserved for cranes, it is shown with head up and one leg raised grasping a rock.
In his Pride reserved for peacocks, it is shown statant affronty with the tail feathers spread.
Striking raptor in flight with head down and talons out stretched to grasp. In period armory, this was blazoned as rousant or trussing. May be enhanced with another bird (usually lying close fesswise) as "preying upon an X".
In her Piety reserved for pelicans, the pelican is shown beak to breast with blood dropping to pelican chicks.
Close wings are closed. A peacock close is blazoned pavonated. Close is a common attitude for "lesser" birds. Note: any raptor close will be blazoned as a falcon. An owl or bat close will be depicted affronty.
Statant this posture is normally reserved for long-legged avians such as the heron and the crane.
Rising wings are open, as if the bird is taking off. There are a variety of postures and wing positions associated with rising. In some cases the bird is seen from the side. In other cases it is seen from the front. The phoenix is always blazoned as rising and always seems to be displayed affronty. Depending on the bird the head could be up or down.
Addorsed both wings are behind the bird's head in a natural posture.
Displayed wings outstretched to either side of the avian. When the wings are displayed or addorsed, there are two ways that they may be shown: elevated--with the wing tips up inverted--with wing tips down.
Affronty as with land beasts, avians can be shown affronty. Some such as the owl and the bat are much more
identifiable this way.
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last updated on: September 13 2018
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