24 June 2010

[art] Heraldry: More Coats Of Arms Of My Own Divising

On Wednesdays, thanks to our long standing activities within the An Tir College of Arms, we do a Heraldry Night. A few very fine and intellectual individuals come together from the local area ... it's a semi-formal group. We have ties in mutual respect and commonalities in some amazing heralds who have shaped and directed us in the past. Some are still with us. Some, sadly, are not.

And that's for another program. What happens during these meetings is that I get a chance to do some drawings. And I got to do two tonight, with the intent of the peoples for submitting them to the An Tir College for hopeful passage and registration. Here's one of them:

This is for a recent recruit to our group named Rahir. Rahir likes him his word play. that creature on the middle of the shield is an ermine - a member of the weasel family which looks rather much like a ferret.

The groups of uniquely-shaped spots that populate the field are also ermine. The spots are a stylization of a fur patter. Ermines were nicely put to use to make fur accoutrements, and were typically sown together in such a way that they formed this patter of dark spots on a white background. This is a field treatment that is, in fact, called ermine.

I display my creations uncolored, as that is how they are produced for the client. The client's vision is that the background should have black spots on white on the viewer's left, and white spots on black on the left. Now, since black-on-white is called ermine, white spots on black is called counter-ermine. Also, in order to contrast against the background, the ermine-spotted ermine on the left side of the line is black with white spots, whilst the tail end of the ermine on the right is black spots on white - reversing where the spots cross graphical boundaries (as the spot over the beast's tail. Flipping the colors respectant a line is, in heraldry, called counter-changing.

The blazon for this therefore, is per pale, ermine and counter-ermine, an Ermine, counter-changed.

Ermine, ermine, baby ... vanilla ermine, ermine baby.

The proposed arms for his lady are thus:

There are, as you can see, two scales in the chief, and three lionesses in the lower two thirds. There's significant visual punnery here, and you don't need to know the colors for this (though the chief is and the cats are black (sable) and the scales and field are white (argent). To get the joke, it's helpful to know that another word for balance, libra, gives us by an indirect route, the word pound. Also, a word for a heraldic cat is ounce.

You may already see it but if not, while the blazon might be correctly said Argent three ounces rampant and on a chief sable, two scales argent it can offhandedly be quipped as Two Pounds, three ounces.

Like I said, our client does like him his wordplay.

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