Heraldic play – not getting stuck in the generic!

As an artist and heraldist I think it’s possible to honor the ancient symbolism of heraldry while having fun with it! Yes, heraldry was (and still is) a language of power. Coats of arms are, what I like to call, “performative” images – they DO something to the person looking at them. Even though one might not understand the symbolism used, or have the tools and skills to decode the image one still, at least in that part of the world that is often called the “cultural West”, reacts instinctively to a heraldic image. The heraldic language has been around since the middle ages, often associated with great dynasties or other powerful institutions such as the monarchy, the military or the church. When we gaze upon a coat of arms we KNOW it is an image of power.

As a heraldist I aspire to re-invent and have fun with the ancient symbols. One can use any language as a straightforward tool for conveying meaning or information. One can also use language to tell a story to inspire, or poetically to make deeper connections to symbolism and intuition.

In my heraldic work I always try to co-create a coat of arms that is highly specific to its owner. One can too easily just take generic images and combine them to make an equally generic coat of arms. However, adopting such a non-descript and generic coat of arms  goes against the very purpose of heraldry. The main idea of coats of arms is that they should act as marks of identity. The arms must be distinct. It must be as unique as possible, just as the individual adopting the arms strives to be a unique person. Lions, crowns, swords and scepters are all high-octane symbols, but aren’t they just a little over used? I think it is possible to develop the heraldic language, to allow for a certain evolution to take place, wherein new stories can be told. As an artist, and as a micronationalist, I would like to invite my colleagues to take risks and to have fun with their coats of arms. Yet another lion Or (gold) in a field of Azure (blue) is dull. Go for something dazzling and unexpected instead!

In my own micronation Lorenzburg one of the primary national symbols is the modest looking pea from the fairy tale “Princess on the Pea”. Peas and micronations have that in common that they are unassuming and minute, however even small things can initiate great events! Here I present a playful coat of arms featuring a pea and the constellation “Corona Borealis” – another national symbol of Lorenzburg:

Blazon: Argent, a champagne Vert upon which a throne Gules, on the seat a pea Or, chief Azur made as a skyline above a mount of three peaks Argent, the constellation “Corona Borealis” Or in the center of the chief.

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