Archive for the ‘Heraldry’ Category.

Online repository of complete editions of the Revista Hidalguia

revista hidalguia

I have just come to find out that one of the most important publications on Spanish heraldry and genealogy has had its entire series posted online for download, for FREE!

This journal, published by the Real Asociación de Hidalgos a fuero de España, started in 1953 and continues to be in print, compiling some of the most important information on the topics of our interest for Spain and the Spanish world. Some of the older issues contain information that is absolutely critical to whomever is doing genealogical research on Spanish ancestry.

One can subscribe to the journal to receive the hardcopy or receive a PDF via email for a nominal fee. I had been a subscriber for years first for the hardcopy and later for the digital edition. 

In any case, the link to the complete series online is http://hidalguia.ariasmontano.es/hidalguia.html

 

A Coat of Arms is a big deal

I’ve said it before and will say it again: don’t adopt a coat of arms lightly!

Arms serve, primarily, an identification function i.e. identifying the bearer/owner of the arms. This was true in the legendary beginning of heraldry, recognizing one knight from another from a distance on the battlefield, to today where the arms are more likely to be used as an online profile pic. An equivalent of sorts is an identifying tattoo or your unique signature.

However, what makes a coat of arms particularly special is that it is inherited. Using the tattoo example, think of a coat of arms as a tattoo that will be inherited by your descendants until the end of time (or the line dies out, whichever comes first). Just like you would want to be absolutely sure about the tattoo you’re going to get, you need to be absolutely sure about your arms. Even more so because of the hereditary nature of arms.

The inspiration for this post comes after reading the entry of October 9th on the blog “Crónicas heraldicas” by José Juan Carrión Rangel whereby someone is announcing publicly that he no longer wants his adopted arms as they no longer represent him. He is essentially going through a tattoo removal process, something most everyone wants to avoid happen.

The lesson learned from this story is to take it slow, do your soul-searching, take your time, test different versions, take your time, think hard and deep, and did I mention take your time?

 

See also:

Arms of the Royal House of House of Karađorđević

The arms above are a new emblazonment of the arms of the Royal House of Karađorđević (Karageorgevich) as created by Royal Heraldic Artist Ljubodrag Gurjich.

Below is the text on the work coming from the artist himself:

Performing my duties as the heraldic artist to the Royal House of Karadjordjevic I worked on the new emblazonment of the house coat of arms of the House of Karadjeordjevic during December 2011 and January 2012. The Herald of the House, Mr Dragomir Acovic, graciously gave me initial advice and his detailed reconstruction study of the Order of Saint Prince Lazar done in 1982, and then granted me full autonomy in execution of this work. The emblazonment was approved by the Head of the House, HRH Aleksandar II by the end of January, and was officially used for the first time on 14th February 2012.

This heraldic composition was first used in Serbdom in 1917 and the same blazon version was reconstituted in post-Yugoslav period.

As it is well known, Crown Prince Alexander is the current head of the dynasty and pretender to the Serbian throne.

Official website of the Royal House of Serbia: http://www.royalfamily.org/

Official website of Royal Heraldic Artist Ljubodrag Grujich: http://www.ljubodraggrujic.com/

 

 

The shaping of a symbol – The double headed eagle

In what is perhaps the best online digital library of Greek or Greece related texts, I found an article written in the 1920s by the Archimandrite Zacharias Lianas (Ζαχαρίας Λιανάς, d. 1952), head of the Rizarios Hieratic School between 1923 and 1925.

The article gives a concise history, from a Greek Orthodox perspective (with emphasis on both Greek and Orthodox), of how the double headed eagle came to have the meaning it has today. Below is my translation of the Archimandrite’s words (apologies for the run on sentences but, that’s how the original is too):

It has always been that people used places, shapes, images, plants and animals as symbols to express an idea. These symbols, called hieroglyphics, are found in all populations and all religions. In those, the imagination of the people borrowed much from the kingdom of the plants such as the olive, the laurel, the lilly, the pomegranate, etc. These were used to express different meanings and ideas.

Also, since antiquity all peoples used as an expression of power, force and majesty the Lion. As an expression of height, poetic elation, wisdom and ingenuity was the Eagle. For this reason the Lion is used in the palaces of kings and the heraldry of nations and sovereign Houses, whereas the Eagle is found on the friezes of temples. Lions decorate the palaces of the kings of Babylon and Persia. Lions decorate as well the palace at Mycenae. Lions [in sculpture] were raised in Marathon, Thermopylae, Chaeronea, etc.

The Eagle, on the other hand, is the symbol and the messenger of the Olympian Zeus. An Eagle transfers Ganymede to Olympus. An Eagle eats, on Zeus’ orders, the liver of Premetheus who is bound to the Caucasus. An Eagle is places on the frieze of the temple of the Olympian Zeus and on the temple of the Capitol Zeus. With the meaning of ingenuity and inspiration, the Eagle was given as a symbol to the Apostole and Evangelist John the Theologian.

Ptolemy Lagus of Alexandria first placed the Eagle on the flags of his army as a symbol of the state and military power. From the Ptolemaic state of Alexandria, dissolved by the Romans, did the Roman Emperors take the Eagle for their military flags. Slowly, the Roman Eagle became the symbol of the entire Roman Empire. As the Roman Empire was split during the reign of Diocletian and Maximilian into two states, the Eastern and the Western, so was the Eagle split into two. The Eagle of the Western Empire had its head facing west and the Eagle of the Eastern Empire faced East. When the Roman State, through Constantine the Great, was united into a single Empire, the two symbolic Eagles were reunited into one. However, the previously single headed Eagle became double headed, symbolizing the unified empire with the two capitals: Old Rome and New Rome. For this reason one of the heads faced West towards Old Rome and the other faced East towards New Rome – Constantinople.

When the Emperor Constantine the Great saw in the sky, at high noon, the divine symbol of the cross with the epigraph ΕΝ ΤΟΥΤΩ ΝΙΚΑ [translated to Latin as “IN HOC SIGNO VINCES”], he was instructed in a vision where he was visted by Jesus Christ to construct a copy of the image of the cross and to use it throughout his military ranks so that he may be victorious through it. This is when Constantine the Great, according to the instructions he received, constructed the Labarum and replaced the until then national military flag of the Double-headed Eagle with the new Christian banner of the Cross. However, he maintained and established the Double-headed Eagle as the symbol and state emblem of the Imperial Dynasty of the Byzantine Roman State. In the following centuries of the height of the Byzantine State, the Double-headed Eagle was used as the Coat of Arms of the Byzantine Emperors, placed on the Imperial Palaces, decorating the chests of the imperial guards and the courtiers in general. It was embroidered on the imperial clothes, the saddles of the imperial horses and on the imperial shoes. In the sacristy of the Holy Monastery of Great Lavra on Mount Athos, is preserved the imperial coat with Double-headed Eagles embroidered in gold, once belonging to the Emperors Nicephorus Phocas and John Tzimiskes from the 9th century.

After the Fall of Constantinople to the Turks (1453) the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople was recognized by the conqueror Muhammed II as the Ethnarch [national leader] of the Romans. As such, he inherited along with the other imperial symbols (the crown, sceptre, robes) the Double-headed Eagle as the symbol of the Nation. This symbol has been used ever since as the emblem of the Ecumenical National Patriarchate and used in the seals of the Patriarchal Bulls. Because of this, it is carved as the Coat of Arms above the gate of the Patriarchal churches. It is also carved on the walls and the floors of the Patriarchal churches and stavropegial monasteries and those houses made stavropegial. It is also conserved on the floors of many temples among which is the temple of the Metropolis of Mistras. It is embroidered in the Patriarchal clothing and robes. Embroidered on fabrics or tapestries, wherever Constantinople is depicted. In time, whenever a cleric in the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate is ordained and the floor of the particular temple does not have the Double-headed Eagle carved, a tapestry with the symbol is placed under the feet of the ordained to show that he is stepping and is on Patriarchal ground, as spiritual subject of the Patriarchate.

As a Patriarchal emblem, the Double-headed Eagle became part of the Patriarch’s vestments. It is curious how this particular item did not become more widely adopted by other Bishops like the other imperial emblems did such as the Crown (mitre), the Purpure robes and the Sceptre (pastoral staff).

The spirit of the Greek people maintained alive throughout the years after the Fall [of Constantinople] the Byzantine tradition of the Double-headed Eagle and in the expression of Greek art. The Double-headed Eagle, that before the Fall has such symbolic value, did not lose it later. On the contrary, it was conciously kept as the symbol of the continuing Byzantine tradition and became the premier symbol of the national ideal of the recreation of the Great Empire.

For this reason, it is the most beloved theme of neohellenic art and has an excellent place there. How closely tied is the Double-headed Eagle with the popular concious [of the Greek people] is shown the innumerable depictions in all forms of Greek popular art whether it is in textile, woodwork, metalwork, jewelry etc. Even in our own century [20th] the wave of nationalism raised the Double-headed Eagle to the first and most honored position. It is still carved onto many objects of the Church and the residential furniture, woods, silver and gold objects. It is painted on many icons and carved onto seals. The seal of the Archbishopric of Athens as well as many other Metropolia use the Double-headed Eagle. It is also depicted on every other form of art upon which a national meaning is desired to be given.

 

Archmandrite Zacharias A. Lianas

 

The link to the original Greek is found here: http://anemi.lib.uoc.gr/metadata/c/0/0/metadata-908460e12ec80b3429d525c3e6f42648_1251357873.tkl

Link to the Rizarios Hieratic School: http://lyk-rizar.att.sch.gr/

Link to the Rizarios Foundation: http://www.rizarios.gr/

 

Note: Images from Wikipedia

Orthodox Ecclesiastical Heraldry

Back in July of 2006, in the journal of the American College of Heraldry “The Armiger’s News”, the late Dr. David Pittman Johnson wrote a very good article trying to codify the system of ecclesiastial heraldry of the (Eastern) Orthodox Church.

As opposed to the Roman Catholic Church that has many established rules regarding its heraldry, the Orthodox Communion does not, mainly due to its decentralized structure.

Among the difficulties of this attempt is the fact that (1) heraldry is not very common in the East and in particular among the Orthodox clergy (at any level) and (2) each Orthodox Church is independent of each other and has its own particular rules and traditions within its hierarchy.

A good introduction on the organization Orthodox Church can be found, where else, on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orthodox_Church_organization

I won’t reproduce the text here but will urge anyone with an interest in ecclesiastical heraldry and particularly Orthodox heraldry to read this very well written article. 

At this point, I want to make a note to say that the rules presented not only may apply to the Orthodox Communion but also those classified as “Eastern” or “Greek” Catholic.

I feel it necessary to say that what Dr. Johnson describes are not the rules of heraldry within the Orthodox Communion but rather a combination of observations and suggestions. Until such time as there are rules established by the Head of a particular Orthodox Church, every member of the clergy is pretty much free to do as he pleases. It is though recommended to try to create some standards and Dr. Johnson has provided us with an excellent foundation to do so.

The arms at the top of this post are those of the Rev. Fr. Deacon Nenad Jovanovich, head of the Board for Heraldic & Genealogical Studies at the Center for Research of Orthodox Monarchy (CROM-BHGS). These arms were emblazoned by the talented new heraldic artist Terry Sarros (who is also an associate and artist of the CROM-BHGS) following the basic principle of the rules described in the cited article but with a variation more appropriate for Serbia.

 It should be noted that the CROM-BHGS, under the leadership of the Rev. Fr. Deacon, has done much excellent work in the creation and promotion of heraldry within the Orthodox ecclesiastical community worldwide. A small sample of the work this group has done can be seen in their online gallery of ecclesiastical heraldry at this link: http://www.czipm.org/galerija-heraldika02-02.html

The article in question can be found at this link: 
http://www.americancollegeofheraldry.org/ORTHODOX.htm
and reprinted at the CROM-BHGS: http://www.czipm.org/dpj.html

 

Note: The image above was used with the approval of the Rev. Fr. Deacon Nenad Jovanovich and the artist Mr. Terry Sarros.
Note: I too am an associate of the CROM-BHGS.

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