Heraldic Supporters

Many heraldic supporters have derived from national emblems and other meaningful symbols.

As a creative tool, the supporters ‘visually’ hold up a coat of arms. Usually they are columns, wreaths of leaves, humans or animals. To maintain artistic balance and symmetry, they’re placed on both sides of the shield or escutheon.

Some nation’s rules of heraldry have restricted the use of supporters to the higher social classes. Continental Europe was less restrictive, while in the United Kingdom only peers of the realm, some baronets, a few knights, and some corporate bodies have been granted supporters.

When granted, the supporters often have a local or historical significance. The Royal Arms of Queen Elizabeth that are displayed when she visits Scotland is a good example.

The supporters are the Lion Rampant (England) and the Unicorn (Scotland)

Image courtesy Wikipedia

Another fine example is the coat of arms of The Bahamas. The supporters are a marlin and a flamingo. As well as their abundance in the Caribbean surrounding the island, the marlin, like all fish, symbolizes unity with Christ, as well as a true and generous mind. Fish also symbolize virtue gained for oneself, not through heritage. The flamingo as a bird, is a symbol of peace and affection within the home ~ even more important in light of the fairly recent release from British power, within the new country.

Image courtesy Wikipedia

Over history, as new countries came to be recognized, independent of their mother country, they tended to use meaningful local objects as heraldic supporters on their coat-of-arms ~

Australia’s kangaroo and ostrich

  • Botswana’s zebras
  • Barbados pelican and dolphin which represent Pelican Island and the fishing industry
  • Bahamas flamingo and marlin
  • Dominca’s parrots
  • Gabon’s panthers which symbolize the vigilance and courage of the president who protects the nation
  • Guyana’s jaguars
  • Iceland’s bull and rock giant as protectors of the island
  • Nambia’s oryx antelopes which represent courage, elegance and pride
  • New Zealand’s European woman holding the New Zealand Ensign and a Maori Chieftain holding a Maori war weapon.
  • San Marino’s oak and laurel branches, representing the stability of the republic and the defense of their liberty [as the oldest republic in the world]
  • Solomon Islands’ crocodile and shark
  • Uganda’s Crested Crane and Ugandan Kob, symbolizing their abundant wildlife
  • Zimbabwe’s Kudos

    Of course many other countries have Heraldic Supporters just as meaningful, if not as unique.

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