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Ancient Egyptians noted the rabbit's ability to run swiftly and associated its alertness with divine powers. They immortalized the animal in the form of amulets and worshipped it in the form of Unut, the hare goddess who had the body of a woman and the head of a rabbit. The rabbit is sacred to Aphrodite , the Greek goddess of love, beauty, and fertility. In ancient Greece, live rabbits were given as love gifts. In China, while looking at the night sky, you might see the rabbit in the moon. The rabbit is also the fourth of twelve signs in the Chinese zodiac. The Easter Bunny has its origins in the pagan festival honoring Eastur / Eostre / Ostara, the Saxon goddess of fertility and motherhood whose symbol was a rabbit. Rabbits appear frequently in tales, stories, and films including Greek storyteller Aesop's "The Tortoise and the Hare," Beatrix Potter's The Tale of Peter Rabbit, and Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. The cartoon character of Bugs Bunny and his trademark greeting, "What's up, Doc?" provides another famous example. Rabbits are also regarded as good luck, and some people will not be without their lucky rabbits' foot!
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.
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.
The expression `rampant guardant' describes a lion standing on its hind legs, looking towards the viewer. This attitude is emblematic of prudence and watchfulness.
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.
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.
The rose appears most frequently in English heraldry, due to its connection with the War of the Roses (1455-85), between royal houses each represented by roses of different colors. In early medieval heraldry, it was shown displayed, with five petals, like a wild rose. During the Tudor period, roses had double rows of ten petals, to represent both the increasing cultivation of roses and the re-joining of the two warring houses, York and Lancaster, under a single crown. A rose can appear slipped and leaved (with a stem and a leaf on each side) or stalked and leaved (with a stem and several leaves), in natural colors or unnatural ones like blue or black. It was a popular charge and one of the earliest ones. In France, a novel of the 14th century was called Le Roman de la Rose (The Romance of the Rose), in which a courtier woos his beloved (represented as a rose) in a walled garden. In England and Canada, the cadency of a small rose represented a seventh son. It represents the traits of gentleness and light.
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.
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)
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.