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Guest Other-in-Law, November 8, 2009 in Wiki of Ice and Fire
I've noticed that some of the house listing employ RL heraldic colour terminology, which GRRM never actually does; he uses traditional terminology for all sorts of other heraldic conventions, but his use of colour is vastly different from RL tradition. Instead of 2 metals and some 5 colours for the overwhelming majority of blazons, Westerosi houses employ a huge array of hues...well over 40, by my count, including various metals as copper, bronze, iron, and rust in addition to the normal silver and gold, and oddball colours such as oak, stone, smoke, sand, and ivory. And silver is different from white in Westeros.So why use descriptions like:orThe given blazon for those areA flock of ravens on scarlet surrounding a dead weirwood upon a black escutcheonandA leaping trout, silver, on a field of blue and mud redMud red and scarlet are very different colours, and the meanings are lost by calling them both gules. As for the latter, the given blazon is by no means clear that the field is wavy palletty, it could as easily be wavy barry (GRRM is vague like this in other instances, too, simply using "stripes" without indicating if they are pales or bars). It seems to me that depicting it that way is a perfectly valid interpretation, but it's overreaching to write a degree of specificity into the blazon that simply isn't there.So in short, I think these sorts of blazons (and many of them don't fall into this category at all, using plain language instead) are inappropriate on two counts. First they are simply inaccurate with regards to colours. Second, they're obscurantist in a way that has nothing to do with the series. From what I've seen, GRRM blazons with archaic terms when it's more succinct to do so; erminois is much shorter to say than to describe, but he doesn't use archaic terms when plain language works just as well or better.Thoughts?
So why use descriptions like:
The given blazon for those are
A flock of ravens on scarlet surrounding a dead weirwood upon a black escutcheon
A leaping trout, silver, on a field of blue and mud red
Mud red and scarlet are very different colours, and the meanings are lost by calling them both gules. As for the latter, the given blazon is by no means clear that the field is wavy palletty, it could as easily be wavy barry (GRRM is vague like this in other instances, too, simply using "stripes" without indicating if they are pales or bars). It seems to me that depicting it that way is a perfectly valid interpretation, but it's overreaching to write a degree of specificity into the blazon that simply isn't there.
So in short, I think these sorts of blazons (and many of them don't fall into this category at all, using plain language instead) are inappropriate on two counts. First they are simply inaccurate with regards to colours. Second, they're obscurantist in a way that has nothing to do with the series. From what I've seen, GRRM blazons with archaic terms when it's more succinct to do so; erminois is much shorter to say than to describe, but he doesn't use archaic terms when plain language works just as well or better.
I've had these issues when rendering them in illustrations. I believe it was mentioned somewhere. Probably by Ran. That George's world of Westeros has a greater range of color and more widely available. George sticks close enough to seem medieval fantasy in regards to the heraldry's and sigils and charges and blazons and what not, but also seems to maintain a little distance to allow a larger variety of color and sigil/charges combinations.
His use of traditional if not laymen descriptions of house or personal heraldry's is easier to understand, when you pick up his books, without being educated on the historical RL terminology and use in RL heraldry in the medieval ages.
For instance in Georges world the Household Stark's heraldry is defined simply as a grey direwolf on a snow white field. That also opens up the possibility for a wide variety of interpretations. For instance, is the Direwolf running as many portray in art? Or is it Rampant or Statant, regardant or the others?
In real life instances the Stark heraldry historically could or would be a Argent/Silver/white field with most likely a black direwolf. Now the only possibility is that in the later 14th century in Germany some other Tinctures in RL heraldric use came to be used. Such as Cendree (grey/iron)
I always have to remind myself. George did/does his research thoroughly on this. As this stuff is a passion of his. I mean look at his collection of medieval figures. So he put effort into his descriptions. Broadened on history with his fantasy and made it easy for a layman to understand.
btw Other in Law. If you are the one with the awesome map depictions on Deviantart. You are quite talented. I would love to have a full westeros continent print one the entirety of westeros is finished. Alongside some prints of the closer ups of the cities and castles!
Yes, while GRRM bases his heraldry on ours, he won't use French terms (obviously) for Westeroi arms. He also commits the Cardinal Sin of letting colour touch colour - like the Targ arms of red on black.
Than the English were committing much sin in heraldry terms. I know of many heraldry, specifically some royalty, that used Blue next to or on Red.
Yeah, Westeros is full of heraldic "crimes". After the Targaryens comes a long list such as Martell, Mormont, Dondarrion, Tarly, Waynwood, Rowan,...
GRRM has specifically disowned the rules of heraldry as they developed in the Middle Ages. They make sense, yes, and once or twice he's muttered about arms he's imagined in his head coming out quite poorly when actually visualized specifically because of his rule-breaking, but for the most part he wants to have the freedom and flexibility to design whatever he pleases. He does make an effort not to get too cluttered, though.
Regarding the complain of the OP.
While proper heraldic terms are much cooler, probably it would be better to name the heraldic colors by their common names because, as you say, Martin describes them with greater detail.
In some cases though, I would still use the proper way to describe the shield. In the first place because Martin uses not any consistent way for the description, and also because there are additional details (although probably non canon) that we know of that would be lost.
For instance, the Tully arms you mentioned, ares decribed in the books as.
But all the renderings approbed by Martin clearly probe that the field is per pallets wavy, so I would describe it:
Per pallets wavy blue and mud red, a leaping trout white.
But that's just me. If you decide to stick to the literal description from the text, that could have some sense too.
Years ago I tried to make some sense out of the heraldic rules of Westeros by trying to diferentiate different traditions. Treating sable as a fur was something I attributed to Valyrian and Dornish heraldry (Targaryen, Qoherys, Qorgyle, Allyrion), and then I seem to recall that the grey tincture abounded in shields from houses of the First Men (Stark, Hightower, and many in the North or the Iron Islands).
But at the end it was a fruitless endeavour. There were always exceptions and complications, and I'm sure GRRM simply didn't put much tought on it. So I left it be. :|
Personally, if we are not going to use the medieval French terms for colors, it is just as silly to use "barry wavy" etc. Far, far better, to those unfamiliar with the terminology, to either describe the shield as it appears ("A flayed man, on a pink field dotted with drops of blood"), in as simple terms as we can manage, or actually use Martin's own descriptons, however vague.
Though giving the Payne arms as describe by Pod might be more amusing than effective. :D
My first comment on this question. A few other questions evolved in discussions without anybody making any changes in the Wiki. So I this time I waited if anybody actually did something.
I think most descriptions using the medieval term were made by me. I found it fun to do, but I have no mayor objections to most changes. I would like to keep some of them though.
Sometimes the medieval French term is more fitting and especially shorter. Try for instance to describe the tincture Ermine. Should we really describe this as something like "A white field-with-multiple-black-things-that-looks-like-little-crosses"?
And I would prefer to say that a blazon has a bend than saying that the blazon "is split in two from left above to right below". That sounds pretty lame.
So how about using normal language if we can and the medieval terms if we must (to avoid too many words or lame sentences)?
Maybe you should make a general article about heraldry (about vocabulary, terms, heraldic language, specificities, differences between real heraldry & GRRM's heraldry, etc...) like we did on lgdn (link) ?
It wuld help people to understand heraldic terms like "Ermine".
There is an Heraldry article now. Some of the points of the OP are addressed there.
Generally speaking, and as documented by a SSM listed among the references of the article, GRRM seems to view Westeros as a society where the real-world heraldic rules do not really exist. He claims, not without reason, that it took time until they were defined and widely adopted or regulated.
Still, some of those rules arise pretty soon out of considerations more practical than formal, and several of the known Coats of Arms are, if not unlikely, at least surprising from a Heraldic perspective. The article elaborates on the matter and gives plenty of examples.
I don't know if its the place to ask about this, but a few characters both in the Wiki of Ice and Fire and La Garde de Nuit are in need of personal coats of arms, such as Ser Hugh
It might be a bit easier if you made the requests (and, if possible, offered suitable images) in the wiki itself. But I believe it is ok to ask here as well.
IIRC I noticed the lack of a Coat of Arms for Ser Hugh once before. But I stopped short of fixing that because I was not 100% certain of the color of the crescent. No reason to be that cautious, I assume, so it is done.
Unless you follow those pages, it is easy to miss those comments, so maybe we can use this thread for request, improvements and feedback for heraldry. Thus we can work better with our french counterparts and others people in the community who are not necessary edit at the english wiki.
For example, I think that House_Trant COA, should be improved, the text is unreadable and the image is barely discernible.
for reference here is the List of Coat_of_arms_images (there are two pages)
Never mind, found it.
Another character article that is lacking the personal coat of arms both in the Wiki and Garde de Nuit is Rossart
Than the English were committing much sin in heraldry terms. I know of many heraldry, specifically some royalty, that used Blue next to or on Red.Henry V
You need to read up on heraldry. A field parted per color is exempt from the color on color rule - So quarterly azure and gules is perfectly legal.
Also, as I recall (and it has been a while, so this part is a little hazy. It may be a generally accepted rule instead of an actual "RULE.")
If the field is parted into colors, the charge has to be metal.
(Parted per fess vert and sable would have to have a charge of argent/or.)
But if one of the field parts is metal, then a color charge is ok.
(Tierced in pale purpure, argent, tenné could have an azure charge. And wouldn't that be a hideous acheivement of arms??)
Oh yeah, totaly forgot this one ! I'll do it soon.
Btw can anyone make a nice shield frame template, I can use? Something like the RPG book one(which is very nice, but we cant use it), Preferably with a nice overlay inside, so I can just paint it with colour and slap an image and done :bowdown:
Here is the best shield frame/overlay I could come up with: http://i43.tinypic.com/ie1efr.png
Lets just say that it doesn't fit as well with most COA as here http://i42.tinypic.com/34rx1xs.jpg