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Glossary

rabbit

rabbit

The rabbit is also known as the coney and is more common than the related charge of the hare, which is rare in British heraldry. Both rabbits and hares frequently appear in threes. The image of three rabbits or hares chasing each other appears throughout Eurasia, especially in churches in southwestern England and Germany. It is quite ancient and its original meaning is unknown, but in Christianity, it is a symbol for the Trinity. It is found in such diverse places as the arms for the Bavarian city of Hasloch, the French family crest of Pinoteau, and the crest of Ushaw College in Durham, England. The rabbit most often appears sejant, but also courant, boltant, passant, and salient. It was believed in medieval times that the rabbit could reproduce parthenogenetically without loss of virginity. The rabbit represents the wisdom that makes strength from weakness, and "one who enjoys a peaceable and retired life." In threes, it represents divinity and the Trinity.

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ram

ram

The ram occurs frequently as a charge in both French and English coats of arms, as well as the ram's head. It symbolized spiritual leadership, authority, fortitude and self-sacrifice.

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rampant

rampant

This term describes the most common heraldic attitude of the lion, with three paws and its tail elevated, looking forward. In this attitude, the lion stands for strength and power.

rampant guardant

rampant guardant

The expression `rampant guardant' describes a lion standing on its hind legs, looking towards the viewer. This attitude is emblematic of prudence and watchfulness.

raven/crow

raven/crow

Though they are different species, the raven and crow in heraldry are portrayed indistinguishably. The raven or crow is found in many arms "speaking" (with its mouth open). It is common to municipal heraldry such as the coat of arms for Lisbon (the capital of Portugal), the Norwegian city of Moss, and the Count of Dublin in Ireland. Ravens appear in mythology all over the world, often as immortal demi-gods. In Celtic folklore, they are associated with witchcraft and death. Native American and Australian Aboriginal mythology casts the raven as a trickster god who created the world and humans, making the raven an important figure in Canadian heraldry. In Greek mythology, the raven was originally white, but was turned black due to the displeasure of a god. Ravens were identified in Greek and Norse mythology as wise messengers who knew everything that happened in the world and were associated with prophecy. The raven is one of the earliest birds to appear in medieval heraldry, possibly dating back to the Danish occupation of Britain. One of the oldest Norman families, Corbet, uses the raven in its arms. The raven represents wisdom, long life and prophecy.

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rising

rising

The `rising' attitude which applies to birds is similar to the `saliant' position for animals. When depicted thusly, a bird appears with its wings raised and head upturned, as if preparing for flight. The phoenix is for instance usually represented `rising'. It symbolizes majesty, hope and enthusiasm.

rose

rose

A traditional symbol of the Virgin Mary, the rose was commonly depicted in coats of arms as proper (either white or red), with five petals. It symbolized purity, majesty and chastity.

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rose barbed

rose barbed

This expression refers to the normally-emblazoned rose: gules, with yellow seeds and five barbs in the background. When these elements are yellow and green , then the rose is `barbed proper'. It emphasizes the rose's distinctive quality: while the flower stands for beauty and purity, its thorns suggest sacrifice.

roundel

roundel

The roundel was an extremely common charge, and was represented as a circular figure. Based on its tincture, it held different meanings: the white roundel signified generosity, while the black roundel was symbolic of warrior spirit.

rule of tincture

One of the basic prescriptions in heraldry, this rule aims to preserve the visibility of the shield and its devices. According to it, tinctures (metals, colours) must be combined so as not to superimpose metal on metal or colour on colour. (Volborth, p. 185)

rustre

rustre

This bearing, similar to the diamond-shaped lozenge, is pierced in the middle. It was used in medieval armours, and therefore signifies warrior spirit and protection.