Who are Those People In My Family Crest?

knight on horseback Each family crest is unique. The colors, animals, and symbols that appear in a coat of arms all tell us something important about the family it belongs to. You might expect to see colors, animals, crosses, and other symbols on a coat of arms. Did you know there may also be images that resemble people?

It might seem strange, but sometimes, there are people on a coat of arms. The people might represent deities, or mythological creatures. It could be half humanoid, and half animal. Or, there may be only a part of a person, instead of a whole person appearing on your family crest.

Let’s begin with the meaning behind the parts of a person that is on a coat of arms. A Caucasian human head represents honor. If the human head is dark skinned, it is representing a Moore. This means that the person who the coat of arms was designed for was in the Crusades, and defeated many enemies. An open hand symbolizes faith, charity, and justice. If the hand is red, it symbolizes the mark of a baronet. Two hands reaching out and clasping the other mean alliance, or a union. An arm, all by itself, is the symbol of an industrious person, who believes and engages in hard work. If the arm is covered in armor, then it represents a person with leadership capabilities, or a person fit for high deeds. A disembodied leg represents strength, stability, and expedition. A skull, as you might have guessed, symbolizes mortality.

There also may be humans, or humanoids, that are a representation of mythological or religious concepts. A centaur is half man and half horse. If he is carrying a bow, then he is called a sagittarius. This is a symbol of virility, and represents someone who has won a battle. A cupid, in heraldry, looks like the head of a baby surrounded by wings. It is a symbol of dignity, glory, and honor. Fortuna is the goddess of good fortune. A knight on horseback, of course, represents a warrior, or a man’s journey through his life. A mermaid, or siren, symbolizes eloquence.

A family crest might contain one or more humanoid monsters. A chimera has the head and upper torso of a woman, the front paws of a lion, the body of a goat, the back legs of a griffin, and the tail of a dragon. This monster represents cunning, and the ability to mislead one’s enemies. A harpy has a woman’s face, neck, and breast, the body of a lion, and the wings and talons of an eagle. This is the symbol of ferocity under provocation. A manticora has the body of a tiger and the head of an old man. This represents a person who is wise, and also a fierce fighter.

Image from d4rr3ll on flickr