Friday, January 31, 2014

Medieval Coat of Arms Project

Medieval Coat of Arms Project

A Brief Description:
Coats of Arms date to the early Middle Ages. In the early 12th century, helmets and other armor began making it difficult to tell armed warriors apart. The solution was for each knight or soldier to paint something personal on their shield. These designs were important in battle, but they also functioned like team uniforms when knights met in tournaments.
Over time, shield emblem designs became enduring symbols of their owners, and of their owners' families.

It became quite fashionable to have a "coat of arms", so people hired artists to design them. The designs weren't just used on shields. They were applied on tunics, saddle blankets, banners and tapestries. They were duplicated in sculpture and architectural features. They were used in signs and advertisements. They were carved into coins, jewelry (e.g. signet rings) and the personalized stamps for sealing letters.

Soon, Coats of Arms weren't just for soldiers! From about 1210 A.D., some priests are known to have had them. The first women known to have had their own coat of arms got them around 1220. Around 1230 towns and cities began having coats of arms. Tradesmen and even peasants started using coats of arms around 1250. In an era when few people could read or write, coats of arms made it easier for people to recognize each other's marks.

Before you design your own coat of arms, it'll be useful to look at a few traditional heraldic designs. Observe the traditional design elements. What do you think they symbolized for the people who chose to wear them? Below is a list of some elements you may want to include in your designs.
Directions: Students will design their own coat of Arms based on their own personalities by completing the following steps:
  • Give your Coat of Arms a title that has something to do with your name (full name, last name, middle name, nickname)
  • Divide your coat of arms into 4 sections, each section should have a symbol which represents the following
  • Top Left corner- Draw a symbol that represents your name or a special quality that you possess
  • Top Right corner-Draw a symbol which represents your birthplace, hometown or ethnicity
  • Bottom Left corner-Draw a symbol which represents a hobby or personal interest
  • Bottom Right corner- Draw a symbol which represents an issue which is important to you (political issue, global issue, local issue, etc)
  • At the bottom of the coat of arms create a slogan which represents your personality. For example, the Sullivan coat of arms slogan is “The Steady Hand of Victory!”
  • Be sure to decorate your coat of arms with symbols and colors which are appropriate to the message you want to convey and are also visually interesting
  • On the back of your coat of arms include a brief 1-2 paragraph explanation of your coat of arms which explains its symbolism
  • In other words, what does each choice you made in terms of symbols, slogan and colors represent about you?
Colors- Appropriate, varied and interesting = 50 pts (exceptional) 30-40 pts (right on track) 0-20 pts (needs improvement) 
Drawing of symbols- Neat and clear, no stray pencil marks= 50 pts (exceptional) 30-40 pts (right on track) 0-20 pts (needs improvement) 
Explanation of Coat of Arms- Clear and to the point, grammatically clear and understandable= 50 pts (exceptional) 30-40 pts (right on track) 0-20 pts (needs improvement) 
Total= 150 pts

The Language of Heraldry
Heraldic Colors:
Yellow or Gold - Generosity

White or Silver - Peace & Sincerity

Black - Constancy (& sometimes Grief)

Blue - Loyalty & Truthfulness

Red - Military Fortitude & Magnanimity

Green - Hope, Joy & sometimes Loyalty

Purple - Royal Majesty, Sovereignty & Justice

Heraldic Animals:
Bear - Protectiveness

Bee - Industriousness

Camel - Perseverance

Dog - Loyalty
Eagle & Eagle - Leadership & Decisiveness

Dragon - Defender of Treasure

Falcon or Hawk - Eagerness

Fox - Cleverness

Griffin (part eagle, part lion) - Bravery

Horse - Readiness to Serve

Lion - Courage

Pelican - Generosity & Devotion

Raven - Constancy
Snake - Ambition

Stag, Elk or Deer - Peace & Harmony

Tiger - Fierceness & Valor

Unicorn - Extreme courage

Wolf - Constant Vigilance

Heraldic Symbols:
Axe - Dutiful
Bridge - (signifies a governor or magistrate)

Crescent - Enlightenment

Crosses - Christian sentiments

Crown - Authority

Fire - Zeal
Heart - Passion

Fleur-de-lis - Purity (associated with France)

Hand - Faith, Sincerity & Justice

Heart - Sincerity

Horns & Antlers - Fortitude

Lightning - Decisiveness

Moon - Serenity

Oyster Shell - Traveler

Ring - Fidelity

Scepter - Justice

Star - Nobility

Sun - Glory

Sword - Warlike

Tower or Castle - Fortitude & Protectiveness

Common Design Features (heraldic terminology):
Bend - a diagonal stipe

Chevron - an upside-down "V"
Chief - broad stripe across top of shield
 Fess - broad horizontal stripe through center

Pale - broad vertical stripe through center

Passant - an animal shown walking

Rampant - an animal standing on hind legs

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