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Dictionary of Vexillology: Appendix V

Heraldic Beasts

Last modified: 2006-08-12 by phil nelson
Keywords: vexillological terms |
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The common attitudes and presentation of heraldic beasts are listed below:

The claws, teeth and beaks of beasts are of a different tincture to the rest of the body.

[example of armed beast]
Lion Rampant Sable, Armed and Langued Gules, Flanders Belgium (fotw)

When an animal is facing towards the sinister rather than the usual dexter.

When an animal is depicted as lying down, with its head generally facing towards the dexter.

Cut off in a straight line as is often the case with the heads and limbs of animals but see ‘couped’ main entry (also 'erased').

[example of couped]
A dexter hand couped at the wrist, Northern Ireland (fotw)

When an animal has its face towards the onlooker.

[example of guardant]
Three Lions Passant Guardant Or, Armed and Langued Azure, Duchy of Lancaster, UK (Graham Bartram)

As couped above, but with the dividing line ragged or uneven.

[example of erased]
Three heads Erased Sable, Lennik, Belgium (fotw)

The tongue of the beast, if shown, is of different tincture than the rest of the body.

[example of langued]
Lion Passant Sable, Armed and Langued Gules, Aalter, Belgium (fotw)

When an animal is depicted walking on all four paws, generally towards the dexter.

[example of passant]
Three Bears Passant, Beernem, Belgium (fotw)

When a charge is shown in its natural shape and colours, as opposed to stylised heraldic colours or shapes.

When an animal is depicted rearing on its hind legs with forepaws and claws extended.

[example of rampant]
Lion Rampant Gules, Armed and Langued Azure, Royal Banner of Scotland (Graham Bartram)

When an animal is looking to the rear over its shoulder irrespective of its attitude.

When an animal is depicted on all four feet standing still whilst facing the dexter.