List of heraldic charges

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This is a list of heraldic charges. It does not cover those charges which are geometrical patterns and resemble partitions of the field; for these, see Ordinary (heraldry).

"Subordinary" charges[edit]

a shield with three lozenges.

A few simple charges are traditionally, and arbitrarily, classified among the so-called subordinaries. (All other mobile charges are called common charges.)

  • lozenge
  • fusil (a narrow lozenge)
  • mascle (lozenge voided)
  • rustre (lozenge pierced)[1]
  • billet[1][2] (a rectangle)
  • annulet (a ring)
  • roundel, but different tinctures have different names: for example roundels argent are called plates. A roundel barry wavy azure and argent is called a fountain.
  • label is commonly a mark of difference, but also appears as an independent charge.
  • fret: originally woven from three bendlets (dexter) and three bendlets sinister, now usually a single bendlet each way interwoven with a mascle.[1]

Human figures[edit]

  • Infants and newborns
  • The child, by default, is depicted as a boy
    • In the arms of Kajiado County, Kenya, one of the children has a shaved head[3]
  • A man, by default, is depicted as bearded and European, with other types or ethnicities distinguished

Parts of human bodies[edit]

  • The head
  • The hand, or hand and arm, is the most common part of the human body to be a charge.[1]
  • The ear[4]
  • Feet[5]
  • Teeth
  • Tongue[6]
  • The heart, even when blazoned "a human heart", always appears like the heart in a deck of cards rather than a natural human heart.
  • A "dug" or woman's breast "distilling drops of milk" famously appears in the arms of the Dodge family, and appeared for a time on the badge of cars made by the Dodge Automotive company.[7]
  • Beards[8]
  • Testicles: the Neapolitan family of Coglione bore "per fess argent and gules, three pairs of testicles counterchanged".[9]


Any animal can be a heraldic charge, although more traditional ones vary in the exactitude with which they resemble the creature as found in nature. Animals depicted naturally are either described as natural or using the scientific nomenclature. Also included in heraldry are Mythical creatures and chimeras.

Predatory beasts[edit]


Other mammals[edit]

Reptiles and amphibians[edit]

  • The serpent usually depicted nowed.[1]
  • The salamander is typically shown as a generic lizard, sometimes with a head of unusual shape often described as "dog-shaped", and always surrounded by flames.
  • The lizard
  • The Biscione
  • Dragon: by default a European one, but also a Chinese dragon.[15]
    • Wyvern: similar to a dragon, but with only two legs.
    • Zilant: a form of dragon appearing in Russian heraldry.


Insects include:

Combination animals[edit]

  • Sphinx: depicted with the head and breasts of a woman.
  • Griffin, combining the head (but with ears), chest, wings and forelegs of the eagle with the hindquarters and legs of a lion (the male griffin lacks wings and his body is scattered with spikes). See List of griffins as mascots and in heraldry.
  • Unicorn, having a horse's body, deer's legs, goat's beard, and often a lion's tail
  • The hippogriff is like the griffin except that the lion parts of the griffin are replaced by those of a horse.
  • Harpy
  • Theow is a wolf-like creature but with cloven hooves.
  • The "seahorse" is depicted as half horse and half fish
  • The sea-lion is a combination of a lion and a fish.[1]
  • Any combination of parts of other animals, e.g. winged reindeer, is possible.[1]


By far the most frequent heraldic bird is the eagle. A variant is the alerion, without beak or feet, seen in the arms of the duchy of Lorraine (for which it is an anagram).

Also very frequent is the martlet, a conventional swallow depicted without feet or the French variant the merlette, which also omits the beak.

Fish and creatures of the sea[edit]

"Fish" are sometimes only described as "a fish", but the species is often named:

Parts of animals[edit]

Parts of creatures may also be used as charges.



Trees and their fruits[edit]

Trees appear as eradicated (showing the roots) or couped. Fruit can appear on a tree, or by itself. Also, leaves and branches appear.

Other flora[edit]

Alder in the coat of arms of Grossarl, Austria.

Trees are sometimes merely blazoned as "a tree" but specific trees are mentioned in blazon.

A small group of trees is blazoned as a hurst, grove, wood or thicket.[2]

Grain crops and vegetables[edit]

Barley (French orge) in the arms of Orges, Switzerland
  • Wheat occurs in the form of "garbs" or sheaves and as ears, though sometimes garbs represent another crop
  • Ears of rye are depicted exactly as wheat, except the ears droop down.
  • "Ginny wheat" or "guinea wheat" (like wheat but with a fatter ear) also exists[23]
  • Leek[24]

Inanimate charges[edit]

The arms of Bonsmoulins with a millwheel in the base

Ships and boats[edit]


  • Religious Structures
Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Flag



Coat of arms of Albert, Prince Consort, showing the harp of Ireland within the Royal Standard of the United Kingdom in the first and fourth quarters and a crancelin (a crown of rue, an ornamental plant) as a part of the Coat of arms of Saxony in the second and third.

Musical instruments include:


Arms of the Republic of the United Provinces: Gules, a crowned lion Or, armed and langued azure, holding a sword and a sheaf of arrows


Clothing and other personal items[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al Fox-Davies, Arthur Charles (1909). A complete guide to heraldry (1909). New York : Dodge. Retrieved 2013-08-21. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "". Retrieved 2010-08-16. 
  3. ^ Retrieved 2018-05-26.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. ^ "". Retrieved 2010-08-16. 
  6. ^ "". Retrieved 2010-08-16. 
  7. ^ Martin Goldstraw. "". Retrieved 2010-08-16. 
  8. ^ "". Retrieved 2010-08-16. 
  9. ^ "Sex in Heraldry". 1997-06-26. Retrieved 2010-08-16. 
  10. ^ "". Retrieved 2010-08-16. 
  11. ^ Retrieved 2018-05-13.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  12. ^ "". Retrieved 2010-08-16. 
  13. ^ From "Jack of Naples" (Jac-a-Napes), later (early modern period) reanalyzed as "jack-an-apes", taking "apes" as "ape, monkey". Monkeys were one of many exotic goods from Naples exhibited in England, hence acquired the nickname Jack a Napes (first attested 1450).
  14. ^ Charles Norton Elvin, Dictionary of Heraldry, 1889, plate 29, nos. 57–59. The monkey as heraldic animal remained comparatively rare, but it is on record from as early as the 14th century, as in the Affenstein crest from the Zürich armorial (c. 1340).
  15. ^ "". Retrieved 2010-08-16. 
  16. ^ "". Retrieved 2010-08-16. 
  17. ^ a b c d e f Jacqueline Fearn. Discovering Heraldry. Shire Publications. pp. 40–41. 
  18. ^ "". Retrieved 2010-08-16. 
  19. ^ Gerard Michon (2004-06-19). "". Retrieved 2010-08-16. 
  20. ^ Balfour Paul, James (1893). An Ordinary of Arms Contained in the Public Register of All Arms and Bearings in Scotland. William Green and Sons. pp. 108–109. 
  21. ^ "". Retrieved 2010-08-16. 
  22. ^ "" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-08-16. 
  23. ^ 2006-06-12. Retrieved 2010-08-16. 
  24. ^ "" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-08-16. 
  25. ^ A Complete Guide to Heraldry by A.C. Fox-Davies and J.P. Brook-Little (1969 edition), p. 212.
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^ Journal of the British Archaeological Association, Volume 13. British Archaeological Association., 1857 - Archaeology, Page 119
  31. ^ Balfour Paul, p. 41
  32. ^

External links[edit]