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Glossary

pale

pale

One of the simplest geometrical charges, the pale is a vertical band or stripe or varying width drawn through the center of a shield.

pall

pall

The pall or pairle is a Y-shaped band or stripe which divides the shield into three parts.

palm branch

The palm branch is a traditional symbol of victory, and occurs more frequently in French heraldry. It symbolized chastity, innocence, justice and truthfulness.

paly

paly

When a shield is described as `paly', the pattern of stripes of alternating colours and metals is arranged vertically rather than horizontally, as in the case of `barry'.

panther

panther

The panther is very similar to the leopard in heraldry, and is always depicted guardant and very often incensed - with fire coming out of its mouth and ears. It symbolizes fierceness, foresight, vanity and ambition.

party per bend / party per bend sinister

party per bend / party per bend sinister

The bend or diagonal line is also present in the variations of the field. When a shield is `party per bend', the division is made from the upper left corner to the lower right. When it is `party per bend sinister', the diagonal runs from upper right to lower left.

party per chevron

party per chevron

The field `party per chevron' is divided into two parts by an angular line drawn horizontally, which is similar to a chevron - one of the commonly-used ordinaries.

party per cross / quarterly

party per cross / quarterly

A shield described as `party per cross or quarterly' is a shield divided by a simple cross-like line, thus creating four equal areas.

party per fess

party per fess

A common way to divide the shield in two areas is by drawing a horizontal line in the middle - the fess. It is then described as `party per fess'.

party per pale

party per pale

When a shield is described as `party per pale', it is divided into two areas by a pale - a vertical line running through its middle.

party per pall

party per pall

A field described as `party per pall' is divided into three areas through a Y-shaped line.

party per saltire

party per saltire

When a shield is described as being `party per saltire', it is divided by two diagonal lines which intersect in the middle.

passant

passant

The term `passant' (or striding) applies to a beast walking towards the dexter side of the shield, with the right forepaw raised. A lion passant was in early heraldry considered to be a leopard, and stands for generosity, strength and courage.

passant guardant

passant guardant

The expression `passant guardant' refers to a beast (lion) depicted walking, oriented towards the dexter side but looking towards the viewer. A lion in this attitude has also been considered a leopard, and signifies courage, vigilance and prudence.

passant regardant

passant regardant

A lion or beast depicted as `passant regardant' is oriented towards the dexter side of the shield but with its head facing towards the sinister. It symbolizes strength and vigilance.

peacock

peacock

The peacock's impressive plumage has led to its frequent use as a charge in heraldry. It is usually depicted affronté, fully displaying its tail feathers. In Christian Art, it initially stood for immortality, while in heraldry it came to symbolize beauty, power and piety.

pean

pean

A third variation of the ermine fur termed `pean'. Its heraldic depiction is the reverse of erminois: the spots are or (or gold/yellow) while the field is sable.

pegasus

pegasus

A well-known mythological creature, the Pegasus was depicted as a horse with wings, in several attitudes. Medieval heralds drew on its classical meanings of fame, eloquence and contemplation. It also stood for integrity, dutifulness and fortitude.

pelican

pelican

The pelican is a particularly meaningful heraldic symbol, and is commonly represented as wounding itself in order to feed its offspring, a characteristic attitude termed vulning or pelican in piety. It was associated with Christ, and as such was a symbol of piety, self-sacrifice and compassion.

pentalpha / pentangle

pentalpha / pentangle

This charge was mentioned in medieval literature as a symbol of chivalric virtues such as purity and courage, but also stood for health and protection.

pheon

pheon

The term `pheon' refers to the heraldic depiction of a barbed spearhead, pointing downwards. It symbolizes wit and strength.

phoenix

phoenix

The phoenix is one of the supernatural creatures used in heraldry as charges, and has a very rich symbolism due to the legends that surround it. Not only was it associated with eternity, resurrection and hope, but it also symbolized chastity, piety and kingship.

pile

pile

The chief is similar to a fess, in that it is also a horizontal band drawn from one side of the shield to the other. It is distinguished by its position at the top of the shield.

popinjay

popinjay

The popinjay designates the heraldic representation of the parrot, and occurs frequently as a charge in English coat of arms starting from the time of Henry the 3rd.

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potent

potent

This heraldic bearing occurs both as a charge itself, as a fur, and in combination with other figures, such as the cross. It resembles a crutch, the traditional emblem of support and resilience. It therefore signifies longevity and strength.

potenty

potenty

A line of partition `potenty' can be seen as a variant of the `embattled' line. The battlements in this case take the tau-shape of crutches.

purpure

purpure

Purpure or purple is commonly represented in heraldry through diagonal lines from the sinister part of the shield to the dexter base. Purple had been traditionally associated with kingship and imperial power (in Byzantium for instance), and symbolized sovereignty, justice, confidence and dignity.