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An Insight on the Coat of Arms

Updated on August 1, 2012

In the past few days, the term coat of arms has been one of the popular subjects in various media. But what does this word exactly mean? As I consult wiktionary.org, this is what I got. Coat of arms refers to distinctive hereditary designs and symbols depicted on an escutcheon. In other sources, they simply describe coat of arms as the key product of heraldry.  It consists of several elements, which has a significant meaning to the wearer’s ancestry and heraldic achievement or distinction. The element accompanied on the coat of arms is what I will be discussing on this page.

Elements Found on Heraldic Coat of Arms

The elements usually accompanied on the heraldic coat of arms are crest, torse, helm, coronet, mantling, supporter, motto, escutcheon, ordinaries, field, common charges, order of merit, and compartment.

The crest, which is found above the helm, it is usually an image of the lion’s fore half, a human’s hand or arm holding a weapon, or a bird’s wing. In some countries, the crest is also represented in the form of a tall hat, fan of plumes, or a pair of curving horns.

The torse, also known as wreath, is a twisted roll of fabric placed about the top of the helm and serves as base of the crest.

The helmet or helm, which is found on the top of the shield, supports the torse and crest. Helm style depends on the social status and rank of a person bearing the coat of arms.

The mantle or mantling is a drapery tied to the helm and forms backdrop of the shield. It also serves as protective cloth covering of the knights not just on various elements but also in the effects of sword-blows against the helmet during a battle.

The coronet is a small crown consisting of ornaments fixed on a metal ring. This element of the coat of arms likewise depicts the rank of the respective noble.

The supporters are figures appearing on each sides of the shield. They are usually two animals, birds, or persons.

The escutcheon, also known as shield, is a panel on which the coat of arms is displayed. The escutcheon likewise consists a number of elements and this include the field that serves as a background of the shield; the ordinaries that is represents geometrical figures; and the charges, which is an emblem or device that occupies the field of the shield.

The order, sometimes referred as order of merit tis found in between the shield and the motto. The order of merit is awarded to the person in recognition of distinguished service

The compartment is the design found under the escutcheon and it is usually portrayed in a form of rocks, grassy mount, and other landscape on which the supporters are standing.

Lastly, the motto or the ethical statement placed below and/or on top of the coat of arms. Usage of motto is derived from word of Christ, and this is very popular in Scotland and other countries ruled by royals.

British Royal Coat of Arms Dissected

Who Uses Coat of Arms

Warriors – Coat of arms are originally used to identify warriors dressed in armor. The coat of arms comes in a form of custom embroidered patches on the military uniform.

Royal Families – Most royal families have their own coat of arms that depicts their identity and values.

Educational Institutes – Universities and colleges also have their own coat of arms. It serves as an official seal when authenticating school documents.

Christian Clergy – The bishops, including the Pope, also have their own coat of arms to indicate their rank in the church.

Commonwealth Countries – Countries that belong from the former British colony also have their coat of arms and it serves as a mark of authority by various government agencies and representatives.

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