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Dictionary of Vexillology: Appendix V

The Postures and Attributes of Heraldic Beasts

Last modified: 2016-09-13 by peter hans van den muijzenberg
Keywords: vexillological terms |
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The common attitudes and presentation of heraldic beasts are listed below:

When two animals are turned back to back - endorsed – but see ‘addorsed 2)’ in the main text.

Aure, Norway
Two Eagle's Heads Erased Addorsed Or, Aure, Norway

When the head of a beast or a man is shown facing the observer – but see ‘caboshed’ in ‘appendix V’ and ‘affronty 2)’ in the main text (also ‘respectant’ and ‘guardant’ in ‘appendix V’ ).

Vilanova d'Escornalbou, Spain
Bull's Head Affronty, Sable, Vilanova d'Escornalbou, Spain (fotw)

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's head is borne full-faced and with no part of the neck visible - cabossed or cabooched – but see ‘affronty’ in ‘appendix V’ (also ‘guardant’ in ‘appendix V’).

Flag of Garešnica, Croatia Arms of Garešnica, Croatia
A Stag Caboshed, Or, Flag and Arms of Garešnica, Croatia

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

Falcon proper contourné
Falcon Proper Contourné (Parker)

Please note that this term has also been applied (by Scottish heraldic authority) to an inanimate charge turned towards the sinister, but that such use is unsupported by other sources.

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

Uherský Brod, Czechia
Lion Couchant Or, Uherský Brod, Czechia

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 is shown with its tail between the hind legs.

Boksburg, South Africa
A Griffon Coward, Azure, Armed and Langued gules, Boksburg 1991 – 94, South Africa (fotw)

When an eagle or other winged creature is shown with its wings elevated and sometimes inverted (see also ‘rising’ in ‘appendix V’, plus ‘vol’ and ‘volant’ in the main text).

Veveyse, Switzerland
An Eagle Displayed, Sable, Veveyse, Switzerland (fotw)

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

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

When an animal is shown upright or on its hind feet. In certain cases this may be used in place of “rampant”, or may be employed in relation to the heads of animals and fish – but see ‘erect 2)’ and ‘upright 2)’ in the main text plus ‘haurient’ and ‘rampant’ below.

Gorjani, Croatia  Gorjani, Croatia
Serpent erect or, Flag and Arms of Gorjani, Croatia (Željko Heimer and fotw)

When a horse is seen rearing on its hind legs - but see also ‘rampant’ and ‘salient’.

Lower Saxony, Germany
Horse Forcené Argent, Lower Saxony, Germany (fotw)

When an animal has its face towards the onlooker - gardant gardant (see also ‘affronty’ and ‘caboshed’ above).

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

The heraldic term when a fish is in the erect position (see also ‘naiant’ and ‘urinant’).

Schwarzenbach, Switzerland Démoret, Switzerland
Three Fishes Haurient, Argent, Schwarzenbach, Switzerland (fotw); A Dolphin Crowned Haurient Embowed, Démoret, Switzerland (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)

Naiant (or natant)
When a fish (or occasionally a water-fowl) is shown swimming per fess, usually towards the dexter - natant (see also ‘haurient’ and ‘urinant’).

Auvernier, Switzerland
A Perch Naiant Argent, Flag of Auvernier, Switzerland (fotw)

When an animal is depicted walking on all four paws, or with one paw raised, and generally towards the dexter – but see ‘trippant’.

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

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

American Samoa
American Eagle Proper, National Flag of American Samoa (fotw)

When an animal, particularly (but not exclusively) a lion, is depicted rearing on its hind legs with forepaws and claws extended – but see ‘forcené’, ‘salient’, ‘segreant’ and ‘erect’. 

[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.

Agnus Dei Proper Regardant (Parker)

When two animals are depicted facing towards each other – combatant, affrontant or affronté (but see note below).

Nax, Switzerland
Two Stags Rampant Respectant Argent, Nax, Switzerland

Please note, we suggest that a suitable glossary or heraldic dictionary be consulted before using this and the alternative terms given above, however, please note also that the terms affrontant and affronty have different meanings – see ‘affronty’ in ‘appendix V’ and ‘affronty 2)’ in the main text.

When a bird is represented as in the act of taking flight (see also ‘displayed’ in ‘appendix V’, plus ‘vol’ and ‘volant’ in the main text).

 flag of Złocieniec, Poland  arms of Zlocieniec, Poland
An Eagle Rising, Or, Złocieniec, Poland (fotw)

When an animal is shown leaping (possibly upon its prey), or rearing up with both hind feet on the ground, and its forepaws drawn as if level with each other – but see ‘forcené’, and ‘rampant’.

Porsanger, Finland Frick, Switzerland
Three Stags salient Argent, Porsanger, Finland (fotw); Wolf Salient Gules, Frick, Switzerland (fotw)

Used in place of rampant when applied to a griffon whose wings are generally expanded – see ‘rampant’ in ‘Appendix V’.

Boksburg, South Africa
A Griffon Sergeant Azure, Armed and Langued Gules, Flag of Boksburg, South Africa 1981 – 1994 (fotw)

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

Morkov, Czechia Roebuck Statant Or, Morkov, Czechia

When a beast of the chase (a stag, hart, buck etc) is depicted walking on all four hooves, or with one hoof raised, and generally towards the dexter – but see ‘passant’.

Rebévelier, Switzerland Rzepin, Poland
Stag Trippant Sable, Attired and Hoofed Gules, Rebévelier, Switzerland (fotw); Stag Trippant Goules, Rzepin, Poland (Jarig Bakker)

When the head of a fish points downward (see also ‘haurient’ and ‘naiant’).

Rorchach, Switzerland
Two Perches Urinant, Argent, Rorchach, Switzerland (fotw)

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