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Questions about Heraldry

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My take on the matter (which may or may not make sense in either real world heraldry or Westeros heraldry) is that the exact shape of a Coat of Arms is meant to be unimportant, much as the exact shade of each tincture, and for much the same reason: it is not realistic to expect weaponsmiths and banner-makers to consistently have the skill and resources needed to present the blazons in such significant a degree of consistency.

For instance, maybe the straight lines we see at the bottom in the Coats of Arms of House Thorne and House Drumm are not meant to be canonical, but just illustrative of how they look like in that shape of shield.



This may sound lazy, and I am certainly no expert on Heraldry, but it makes sense to me. I am willing to guess that sometimes it is simply not practical to try and get curved cuts on the fabrics. I certainly recall no hint that the exact shape matters - no heraldic terminology that I remember recognizes the differences among the varieties of escutcheons around.

Escutcheons are supposed to be divisible in quarters, to allow for various angles and quantities of rows, and to have upper left and right corners and a single lower point, and that seems to be just about all - no terminology whatsoever to tell a straight lower point from a curvy point, much less to distinguish among the various kinds of curve at the point. I fully believe that this is a deliberate omission to allow for some variety, either intended or circunstantial. This is no different from failing to dictate whether Vert shoud be light or dark green, for instance.

For that reason I don't think a standard shape for the overall shield is practical to suggest, and perhaps not it is not even desirable as a goal.

That said, if anyone learns (say) that for whatever reason the Blanetree Coat-of-Arms is usually presented as a straight-liner as opposed to a more traditional curvy escutcheon, I am certainly willing to learn that and to make (or encourage) adequate adjustements in the current art. It would be exciting to have such specifics available. I just don't believe that to be the case.

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In the early days the shape of the armorial shield was always usually representative of the type of shield employed by the warriors at the time. For example, in the 12th century, kite shields were the common shape for battlefields and thus heraldry. Over the next 300 years or so, the shields changed shape, and with the focus starting to be on tournaments for nobles, the heater type shield became more common. But as gunpowder appeared, shields became pointless on the battlefield, they disappeared.

This is when heraldry became a 'pen and paper' pursuit. From the 16th century on we see increasinlgy varied armorial shapes, particularly from the Italians and Eastern Euros. These are the sort of scrollworked things you see over Renaissance doorways.

But for Heraldic purposes, the shape of the shield is definitely less important than what it bears.

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How is that an objection to agreeing to a couple of templates and generating shields from them? In particular, the Dornish template is dead simple: a circle of a standard size. The matter of the house words could be dealt with by selecting some reasonably-common font (or a suitable and easily-found free font) and instructions concerning font size, weight, kerning, etc.

To go further, my suggestion is that the escutcheon that everyone favors for non-Dornish arms should be developed into a template and made available to others, and then a suitable template should be made for the Dornish arms, and someone or someones can take on the task of generating new shields to replace the interim shields that are in place.

The so called interim shields replaced other shields that were of better quality. The issue is that quality should trump shape and that the original ones should be back. Creating templates does not solve that.

Also this is probably not intended but replacing the items we made by copied items of lesser quality and then suggesting us to make templates is not exactly motivating.

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I believe that Ran was talking in general(as was I) on topic of consistency, offering a common solution for this, which is used by many who work on COA/shields/flags like in Total war forum, Mount&Blade forum and maybe here as well. (EDIT: here is an Example I googled, thou I am no sre how useful, as I am not familiar with specific editing software we use)

while Scafolc want to resolve the issue, he initially posted about, regarding the few specific COA that were replaced, as part of bigger effort to add missing COA, examples:

  1. File:House_Jordayne.PNG
  2. File:House_Allyrion.PNG
  3. File:Yronwood.png

btw, IMO many of the older ones seem better.

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About a year ago I uploaded a coat of arms in svg format (I think it was for House Yronwood). The benefit of svg is that is very easy to change. Because of that reason it is a preferred format on wikipedia / commons. The problem was that the svg image was not visible and I think it caused errors in the category pages.

Although I do not care much about the shapes (and think that the focus should be on the general quality of the image) I would not mind if others changed the shape or improve aspects of the image.

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Another thing that should be considered that size is major factor in how images look. We use 3 main sizes for COA Upload size, Normal and Tiny(on character pages), and usually what makes normal COA look good is barely noticeable on the tiny ones...

would anyone be in favor of trying the lagardedenuit way of placing the COA inside the infobox, allowing us to make them almost twice as bigger (we have already a COA field for it, it just need a minor adjustment)? we can try doing so only with the monarchs.

p.s. I had the same problem with SVG, IIRC we dont have the extension installed.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I got an idea for the tiny COA presentation on the character pages. right now we place them as:

the problem that in many case, they are very small and barely identifiabe, so what we can do is use it like that:
[[File:Some_House.png|50px|House name + words|link=House entry]]
it will allow you to jump to that house entry by clicking on the COA and when the mouse cursor is placed ontop of it, the COA House description(name words, whatever) will show. for example, before and later
[[File:House_Lannister.png|House Lannister - Hear me Roar|link=House Lannister|50px]]
and if needed I can make template for it, similar to the {{Date|XX}} one, so it would only be needed to write
{{COA|House Lannister}}

it's really a small thing and most wold probably never notice that, so what do you say guys, any point?

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  • 7 months later...

Some time ago Sergio Tavel uploaded a number of new coa version. The use of these images as coat-of-arms-that-is-used-in0templates like NobleHouse Template and House regions template were challenged for a number of reasons. Because of this it seems a good idea to discuss again how we think the main coa should look.


Above we have discussed which shape the shield should look. A number of people thought the preferred shape for the Dornish coa's should be the buckler/roundel and for the other houses the "heater style". Others opinion-ed that the general quality of the coa should take preference over a preferred shape. Note that some of our sister wiki's use different shapes (Portuguese) and or do not seem to have a preferred shape (Russian). The discussion itself did not come to a clear solution but most images with with a different shape than the heater style (for non-Dornish) or buckler (for Dornish) were replaced by new versions using those shapes. However in those new versions the charges were replaced with charges which were deemed to be of superior quality.

So it seems that what shapes concerned as a we go to using preferred shapes if the general coa's is of the same or better quality.


In this discussion Mor showed a few new coa's using a different style than we had up to than. My comments on that were that mixing different styles (artistic divisions and tinctures versus simple charges) did not look that great. My own preference was that the main coa that is used in the template should look clear and therefore simple. This was not challenged although I don't think it was thoroughly discussed.


As the philosophy of wiki's is that information is free for all, copyright material should, only be used when free material of the same quality in not available. I think this our guideline but I am not sure if we have preference for a particular license. Here is the link to some of the licenses we use.

So let me hear your thoughts.

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Personally, I don't have strong feelings at all about the shape of coats of arms, other than that I would prefer to have buckler (round) ones for Dornish coa's.

If anything, I guess I prefer a bit of variety in the shapes of shields; in my opinion it improves the sense of authenticity, for it seems to me that in actual situations the shape of the shields will hardly ever be very standardized when the sigils vary. But it is a very small deal for me either way.

I do however feel that coats and sigils should be above all else well recognizable. Which is to say, their colors and contrast and size should be reasonable in each and every use; the round/buckler shape should generally be avoided for non-Dornish shields; and given the previous considerations, the general appearance and colors should match the canon or semi-canon descriptions available.

Specifically, I am not too happy with the current version of Jon Snow's personal Coat of Arms (I'm not sure he has one in the books, but I don't mind giving him one. However, beautiful as the full size image is, as presented at the upper left corner of his portrait with 50px of width it does not allow the direwolf to be too recognizable. Also, the specific shade of grey is IMO a bit too dark for that size; side by side with the gradient used in the Night's Watch coat of arms it looks more like black than grey. I would suggest a variant for the 50px version, with a lighter shade of gray and perhaps a slightly different shape for the direwolf.

I'm also a bit surprised by the new House Bolton Coat of Arms. It has undeniable artistic merit, but I don't think it particularly fits the available descriptions of that House's sigil. I have no problem whatsoever in using it in some way, perhaps as a straight alternate presentation of the House's coa, but I don't think it should be used as the standard representation. Maybe it is just me.

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Jon Snow's personal armor is as described by Martin. Mind you this was to be used with replication of Longclaw by Valerian Steel. there is no coat of arms mentioned in the books.

As for the visibility; is was not intended for it to be used as a thumbnail picture. I wanted to show it as a regular picture like they do on La Guarde de Nuithttp://www.lagardedenuit.com/wiki/index.php?title=Jon_Snow.

I like depiction of the new Bolton coa or to be precise the field and charge. Like you said it is artistic but for the standard coa I prefer a more simple version. And I feel that the shield does not fit with the rest.

Your idea of showing it as an alternative version sounds good to me. Maybe we could make a small gallery? Then we might also show the versions on the Portuguese and Russian wiki (if they can be used).

Another general remark about pictures: if we can now upload svg the I would like that to be our new preferred file type. It is much easier to changed svg files then other types.

Still the other aspects, should take prerference over the preferred filetype in my opinion.

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  • 4 weeks later...

IAbove a few objection were mentioned: though I see the artistic value of the new bolton coa I think the style for the main coa image on the page should be a bit more simple. This also applies (a bit) for the other images.

I have made a similar comment before on a coa Mor made and as he changed it I had the impression he agreed with me.

LuisDantas made of comment about the Bolton coa not matching the description.

I have asked Richard Ba to join the discussion as he had a few comments himself.

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So, it is because they look too complicated? More simple?as in no light effects, no shadows, no texture, plain colors and such?

I don't think a well and bigger designed sigil should be a problem. I've made several of them and they were very well received, please, visit my deviantart page and let me know what you think of them: http://siriuscrane.d...rt.com/gallery/

Also, the Bolton sigil is based on the official one used by HBO. I think it matches the description just fine: a flayed man red, on a pink background. My sigil is a flayed man red on a pink background. Unless I'm missing something, I think it looks just like the description.

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Richard Boyé's flayed man as shown here was described as "fabulous" by GRRM. So, that's closer to what he wanted. HBO's version of the arms is just that: HBO's versions. They felt free to tweak and adjust as they preferred. The introduction of the rack or flaying cross, whatever it is, in particular isn't at all in GRRM's notes or descriptions of the arms.

I do note something else: why are we using French heraldic terms for the Bolton arms? George mixes, but "Carnation, a flayed man affronté sanguine" is not what he uses. His specific description, as noted on the Heraldry site, is "A red flayed man on pink de sang."

It seems to me that arms should always be written as they are described by GRRM, and that proper heraldic terms (like "Carnation" or "affronté" in this case) should be avoided if GRRM himself does not use them in his notes or the books. "Affronté" is particular egregious.

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A number of descriptions have been changed from regular language to the heraldic terms. As nobody acted on that I had the impression that most people did not care.

I don't mind using normal English but I would like to keep on using "ermine" (as in the coa of house Florent http://awoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/House_Florent ) until somebody found a regular word for it.

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I really don't know what's the problem with the images I uploaded. They shape is the same as the rest, the image is different. That's all.

Far as I am concerned, there is no problem currently.

For a few days (long gone) the sigil in http://awoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/File:Bolton_sigil.png was being used as the standard in the Wiki, and I did not really find that all that proper. Interesting as that image is, it does not really represent the sigil.

The current version, seen in http://awoiaf.westeros.org/images/7/76/Bolton.png , is far more true to the canonical description of House Bolton's Coat of Arms.

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Ok, I get that with the Bolton sigil. But what about the others? What's the problem with those? Dondarrion, Seaworth, Hightower, Martell, Stannis sigil, Joffrey's, Mallister, Bracken and Greyjoy? Can I upload those?

If there is something wrong with these ones, then I really don't understand your position.

http://awoiaf.wester.....g<br /><br />







PS: This are my personal designs, not HBO'S.



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