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By W. Neil Fraser

Blazon (Blason) is defined as: (i) the written description of armorial bearings; (ii) to describe a coat of arms using correct heraldic terminology. 

The language of heraldry can seem strange to those unfamiliar with heraldic terms, but the blazon allows the heraldic artist to paint arms accurately, while interpreting how those arms should be depicted.  To ensure clarity, the blazon (legal description) is always the final authority.

The language of heraldry includes terms to describe colour, heraldic charges, position of charges on the shield and various components of the complete armorial bearings (coat of arms) to which an individual armiger is entitled.  Most good books on heraldry include a glossary of heraldic terms so I will not attempt to explain the subject extensively in this brief article.

I have many books on heraldry but the one I find most useful, and one that helps to remove some of the mystery, is Scottish Heraldry by M. D. Dennis, available from The Heraldry Society of Scotland and listed on their website under Publications at a very reasonable cost.  Obviously, the 25 page book deals with Scots heraldry, but it is beautifully illustrated and is applicable to most heraldry in the world.  Mark D. Dennis is the current Chairman of The Heraldry Society of Scotland and is an exceptionally talented heraldic artist, which is evident in the book.  I use my copy often and anyone interested in understanding heraldry would find the book answers many questions and dispels many misunderstandings. In addition to personal arms, Mark explains heraldic flags and banners, ecclesiastical heraldry, civic arms, school and university arms, corporate heraldry and heraldry for clubs and societies.  The final chapter Heraldry Today, offers many suggestions as to how heraldry may be displayed, complete with a photo of some examples.

Anyone interested in understanding  heraldry should at least learn the basic language of a blazon. The blazon for my personal arms is:

Azure between three cinquefoils a chevron Argent masoned Sable voided of the field and charged thereon with a trillium flower between two dogwood flowers Proper.

And for a crest: Upon a helmet mantled Azure doubled Argent within a wreath of these colours a cougar reguardant Argent couchant on a mount growing thereon strawberries Proper


Blue field with three fraises (strawberry flowers) a chevron masoned (marked with Black lines to appear like a row of bricks) the field between top and bottom showing a trillium flower (provincial flower of Ontario) and two dogwood flowers (provincial flower of my native province of British Columbia) flowers Proper (all as they actually appear).

And for a crest (the topmost part of the arms above the helm) mantled (the torn cloth) Azure (Blue) doubled (reverse side) Argent (Silver, always painted as white) a cougar (B.C. Mountain Lion) reguardant (looking back over its shoulder) Argent couchant (lying down) on a mount (mountain ledge) growing thereon strawberries Proper (as the actually appear).   

Personal arms of William Neil Fraser granted through Canadian Heraldic Authority 14 November 1997 and recorded at Vol.3 Page 267 of the Public Register of Arms, Flags and Badges of Canada.

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