Tyger (heraldry)

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A tyger, from The Complete Guide to Heraldry

Tyger, also known as heraldic tiger is a beast used as a charge in heraldry.


To distinguish it from the naturally existing tiger, which also occurs in heraldry, the latter is sometimes blazoned as a "Bengal tiger".


The tyger does not look much like a real tiger. Its body is like the body of a wolf. It has the tail of a lion and a thick mane along the neck like a horse. It has large, powerful jaws and a pointed snout. The "natural" colour was in Medieval times said to be speckled, later red.


It is supposed to have its home in Hyrcania in Persia and its swiftness is supposed to have given its name to "tygris", the Persian word for "arrow", and to the swift River Tigris. If pursued by a tyger, it was supposed to be possible to get away from it by leaving a mirror, which would perplex the tyger.[1]


The spelling appears in William Blake's poem "The Tyger". Although his illustration is more like a real tiger than the mythical one, the two are completely different.


  1. ^ Friar, Stephen, ed. (1987). A New Dictionary of Heraldry. London: Alphabooks/A&C Black. p. 103. ISBN 0 906670 44 6.