Portal:Heraldry


Welcome to the Heraldry and Vexillology Portal!

A herald wearing a tabard
Flags of the Nordic countries

Heraldry encompasses all of the duties of a herald, including the science and art of designing, displaying, describing and recording coats of arms and badges, as well as the formal ceremonies and laws that regulate the use and inheritance of arms. The origins of heraldry lie in the medieval need to distinguish participants in battles or jousts, whose faces were hidden by steel helmets.

Vexillology (from the Latin vexillum, a flag or banner) is the scholarly study of flags, including the creation and development of a body of knowledge about flags of all types, their forms and functions, and of scientific theories and principles based on that knowledge. Flags were originally used to assist military coordination on the battlefield, and have evolved into a general tool for signalling and identification, particularly identification of countries.

Selected coat of arms

Seal of Dartmouth College

The Seal of Dartmouth College is the official insignia of Dartmouth College, an Ivy League university located in Hanover, New Hampshire, United States. Anglo-American law generally requires a corporate body to seek official government sanction, usually in the form of a charter, in order to operate. Such chartered bodies normally authenticate their official acts by marking them with a distinctive seal. The seal's design is usually complicated to avoid counterfeiting, but it can also express something about the institution's history or mission. Dartmouth College is one such chartered body, and it obtained its official seal in 1773. (more...)

Selected article

The Lion and Sun

The Lion and Sun or Shir-o-khorshid (Persian: شیر و خورشید‎) is one of the better-known emblems of Iran, and between 1423 and 1979 was an element in Iran's national flag. The motif, which combines "ancient Iranian, Arab, Turkish, and Mongol traditions", became a popular symbol in Iran in the 12th century. The lion and sun symbol is based largely on astronomical and astrological configurations: the ancient sign of the sun in the house of Leo, which itself is traced backed to Babylonian astrology and Near Eastern traditions.

During the Safavid era, the lion and sun stood for the two pillars of society, the state and the Islamic religion. It became a national emblem during the Qajar era. In the 19th century, European visitors at the Qajar court attributed the lion and sun to remote antiquity; since then, it has acquired a nationalistic interpretation. During the reign of Fat'h Ali Shah and his successors, a crown was also placed on the top of the symbol to represent the monarchy. Beginning in the reign of Fat'h Ali Shah Qajar, the Islamic aspect of the monarchy was de-emphasized. The emblem remained the official symbol of Iran until the 1979 revolution, when the "Lion and Sun" symbol was removed from public spaces and government organizations, and replaced by the present-day Coat of arms of Iran. (more...)

Selected flag

Flag of Tunisia

The national flag of Tunisia (Arabic: علم تونس‎) is predominantly red and consists of a white circle in the middle containing a red crescent around a five-pointed star. The Bey of Tunis Al-Husayn II ibn Mahmud decided to create the flag after the Battle of Navarino on 20 October 1827, which was adopted in 1831 or 1835. It remained the country's official flag during its time as a French protectorate, and was confirmed as the national flag of the Republic of Tunisia with the signing of the Constitution of Tunisia on 1 June 1959. It was not until 30 June 1999 that its proportions and design were clearly specified in law.

The crescent and star recalls the Ottoman flag and is therefore an indication of Tunisia's history as a part of the Ottoman Empire. (more...)

Selected picture

A medieval ship flag

A medieval ship flag captured by forces from Lübeck in the 1420s showed the arms of Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Pomerania. It remained in this city for 500 years, until destroyed in a World War II bombardment that damaged St. Mary's Church where the flag was kept. A 19th century copy remains in Frederiksborg Palace, Denmark. The saint accompanying the Virgin Mary and infant Christ is Saint James the Greater, identified by his scallop shell emblem. The flag was made of coarse linen; all figures and heraldic insignia were created using oil-based paint.

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Attributed arms of Satan

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