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  1. #1
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    Question Would flopping this image be proper?

    I have a question for our experts on heraldry.

    I have an acquaintance who made known to me this evening that he wishes to utilize this Clan Donald image in a tattoo design:



    however, due to areas already covered in ink, he wishes to place the design on his right bicep, but wants the image "facing forward", thus he plans to flop the image like this (though with the words "Fraoch Eilean" reading the correct way of course ):



    This got me to wondering, and thus my question for the 'experts':
    is it permissible in heraldry to flop such an image, or is this considered a no-no? Would it be considered okay if the galley & eagle on the shield were facing to the left (as in the previous image)?

    (..there must be something in the air, first I start a thread about regimental leg tattoos, and then this situation pops up!)
    [SIZE="2"][FONT="Georgia"][COLOR="DarkGreen"][B][I]T. E. ("TERRY") HOLMES[/I][/B][/COLOR][/FONT][/SIZE]
    [SIZE="1"][FONT="Georgia"][COLOR="DarkGreen"][B][I]proud descendant of the McReynolds/MacRanalds of Ulster & Keppoch, Somerled & Robert the Bruce.[/SIZE]
    [SIZE="1"]"Ah, here comes the Bold Highlander. No @rse in his breeks but too proud to tug his forelock..." Rob Roy (1995)[/I][/B][/COLOR][/FONT][/SIZE]

  2. #2
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    If it were me, I would encourage him to use the clansman's badge out of respect to the customs of Scottish heraldry, and you don't need to flip it.

    T.
    Last edited by macwilkin; 13th June 10 at 03:47 AM.

  3. #3
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    The answer would be - no and no.

    Firstly the shield. It is designed to be seen from one direction only - from the front. The blazon (heraldic description) dictates what is on the shield, but there are some default positions. In the Royal arms for Scotland the lion faces the left because it is a lion rampant - that is the default position. If you flop the shield, what is then depicted is not what is in the blazon and is NOT the original shield. If the shield were to be depicted canted over to the right (to fit the bicep), but keeping the orientation of all the components the same - that would be OK.

    Secondly, the crest (the bit above the helm) A well designed crest is able to be seen in all directions, a full 360 degrees. (This was not always the case and there is some very bad heraldry out there, that would be impossible to make in real life.) On the face of it, you could flop the crest - BUT - it would be the wrong hand. The first image depicts the right hand; the second image depicts the left. The image would have to be redrawn to show the back of the hand, rather than the fingers and palm. If it was done like that (the right hand being rotated), there is no reason why it should not be done.

    With the proper amendment this could look very impressive.

    There is another question about using another man's arms. These are the arms of a person and his possession, not the clan.

    Regards

    Chas
    [FONT=arial]Regards[/FONT]
    [B][SIZE=2][FONT=Comic Sans MS][I]Chas [/I][/FONT][/SIZE][/B]

  4. #4
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    Todd beat me to what I was about to write. That coat of arms does not belong to your friend.

    As for the question of "flipping"--no, it would no longer be correct. It is a given that charges on the shield face to the dexter side, unless the blazon says otherwise. A galley/lymphad, then would be sailing from sinister to dexter...left to right.

  5. #5
    Join Date
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    For completeness, there are another few points that should be mentioned.

    'Flopping' the shield was very popular on Continental Europe to depict a marriage or alliance of some sort. One of the shields (usually the one on the left) would be turned to 'respect' the other. Rather like a picture of a loving couple looking deeply into each other's eyes. BUT. This idea never found favour with Heralds in either England or Scotland. Their opinion was then, and still is, that the 'turned' shield was totally different to the original and could in some instances be identical to someone else's shield.

    In this case, if the shield was flopped then it would no longer be the shield of Donald. It might be somebody else's or it might be nobody's, I really don't know, but the possibility is there.

    So, if it is not the shield of Donald, would your friend want the shield of some total stranger tattooed on his arm?

    Next point. This is a list of the Armigerous clans, that is to say, clans with no Chief or no known Chief. Where the Chiefly line has died out.

    Abercromby · Abernethy · Adair · Adam · Aikenhead · Ainslie · Aiton · Allardice · Anderson · Armstrong · Arnott · Auchinleck · Baillie · Baird · Balfour · Bannatyne · Baxter · Bell · Belshes · Bethune · Beveridge · Binning · Bissett · Blackadder · Blackstock · Blair · Blane · Blyth · Boswell · Brisbane · Buchanan · Butter · Byres · Cairns · Calder · Caldwell · Callender · Campbell of Breadalbane · Campbell of Cawdor · Carruthers · Cheyne · Chalmers · Clelland · Clephane · Cockburn · Congilton · Craig · Crawford · Crosbie · Cunningham · Dalmahoy · Dalrymple · Dalzell · Dennistoun · Don · Douglas · Duncan · Dunlop · Edmonstone · Fairlie · Falconer · Fenton · Fleming · Fletcher · Forrester · Fotheringham · Fullarton · Galbraith · Galloway · Garden · Gartshore · Ged · Gibsone · Gladstains · Glas · Glen · Glendinning · Gray · Gunn · Haliburton · Halkerston · Halket · Hepburn · Heron · Herries · Hogg · Hopkirk · Horsburgh · Houston · Hutton · Inglis · Innes · Kelly · Kinloch · Kinnaird · Kinnear · Kinninmont · Kirkcaldy · Kirkpatrick · Laing · Lammie · Langlands · Learmonth · Little · Logan · Logie · Lundin · Lyle · MacAulay · Macbrayne · MacDuff · MacEwen · MacFarlane · Macfie · Macgillivray · MacInnes · MacIver · Mackie · MacLellan · Macquarrie · Macqueen · Macrae · Masterton · Maule · Maxton · Maxwell · McCorquodale · McCulloch · McGhee · McKerrell · Meldrum · Melville · Mercer · Middleton · Moncur · Monteith · Monypenny · Mouat · Moubray · Mow · Muir · Murray of Atholl · Nairn · Nevoy · Newlands · Newton · Norvel · Ochterlony · Orrock · Paisley · Paterson · Pennycook · Pentland · Peter · Pitblado · Pitcairn · Pollock · Polwarth · Porterfield · Preston · Pringle · Purves · Rait · Ralston · Renton · Roberton · Rossie · Russel · Rutherford · Schaw · Seton · Skirving · Somerville · Spalding · Spottiswood · Stewart · Stewart of Appin · Strachan · Straiton · Strange · Sydserf · Symmers · Tailyour · Tait · Tennant · Troup · Turnbull · Tweedie · Udny · Vans · Walkinshaw · Wardlaw · Watson · Wauchope · Weir · Whitefoord · Whitelaw · Wishart · Wood · Young

    For many of these, there is an identifiable coat of arms, just no man to own them. Should someone wish to display any of these arms, there would not be anyone to complain.

    In one or two cases, the procedure has started to obtain a new Chief. The case closest to home is Clan Duncan. Our own Duncan of Sketraw is is going through the procedure to become the Chief of the Clan. The thing is, when this happens, he will use his own coat of arms, not the one from 700 years ago. So the original 700 year old arms will go unused.

    Last point. As Todd has pointed out, if a man wants to show his allegiance by getting a tattoo then the absolutely correct thing for him to do would be to use the Clansman's Badge in one colour. Then no one could take him to task.

    Regards

    Chas
    [FONT=arial]Regards[/FONT]
    [B][SIZE=2][FONT=Comic Sans MS][I]Chas [/I][/FONT][/SIZE][/B]

  6. #6
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    Hi, BH – Chas has given you some good advice, as has Cajunscot, but there is more to say on the matter.
    I agree that it would be wrong to display anyone else’s coat of arms — in or outside your house, on your vehicle, your clothing or your skin.
    It would be acceptable to show a clan crest in monocolour — in that format, it is an acknowledgement of the clan chief as your chief.
    However there is a place for flipping an armorial device, and the right shoulder is an appropriate place for it.
    In the South African Army, each unit has a coat of arms (shield only) which is impressed in plastic on a pair of shoulder tabs (tabs that hang down the sleeve, that is, not along the shoulder). In some instances, enamelled versions are worn.
    Note I said a pair of shoulder tabs: if any charge in the device faces to the dexter side (the right-hand side as seen from behind the shield, so the left as seen from in front), it must face forward on the shoulders.
    So where the charge faces the dexter, that shield is worn on the left shoulder. The shield with a charge facing the sinister (left as seen from behind) is placed on the right shoulder, so that the charge is still facing forward.
    In many unit arms there is no left/right differentiation.
    But nowadays many unit arms are also displayed on the shoulder with the national flag. Again there is a left and right to that. The flag flies from the hoist to the fly, and on the left shoulder the fly is on the left (or dexter) side. But on the badge made for the right shoulder, the fly is on the right side, because the fly is on the left (sinister).
    So the soldier who puts his shoulder tabs must make sure that the black and yellow part of the flag (the fly of the South African flag) faces the front, and the point of the green pall faces the rear.
    The same principle applies to any other device worn on the right shoulder, be it a flag, a shield of arms or a crest.
    If you wear the US flag on the right shoulder, the stars are on the front side, and the stripes are on the rear.
    If you wear it any other way, it is back to front.
    The crest that BH wants to use would need to be redrawn, because it would be necessary for the correct hand (the right hand) to be shown, but with the cross facing forward (the viewer would need to see the back of the grieve, or metal “glove”).
    When knights wore their arms on their surcoats, this principle applied there, too.
    Where a lion faces to the dexter, he must face to the dexter on both front and back. So he faces the right shoulder on the front of the surcoat, and he still faces the right shoulder on the back – that is, he has been flipped around to face the correct way.
    Regards,
    Mike
    The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life.
    [Proverbs 14:27]

  7. #7
    Join Date
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike_Oettle View Post
    When knights wore their arms on their surcoats, this principle applied there, too.
    Where a lion faces to the dexter, he must face to the dexter on both front and back. So he faces the right shoulder on the front of the surcoat, and he still faces the right shoulder on the back – that is, he has been flipped around to face the correct way.
    Regards,
    Mike
    Sorry Mike. I've got to disagree. This did not happen in UK usage.

    This is the tabard of a Pursuivant of the College of Heralds:



    Note that on both arm pieces the CoA faces the viewer correctly, that is to say in accordance with the blazon, not flipped. Note also in the lower right we can see what is the back of the tabard. Again the Arms are in accordance with the blazon and not flipped.

    It might have happened in Continental usage, but not in the UK and not sanctioned by either Garter or Lord Lyon.

    Regards

    Chas
    [FONT=arial]Regards[/FONT]
    [B][SIZE=2][FONT=Comic Sans MS][I]Chas [/I][/FONT][/SIZE][/B]

  8. #8
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    Okay, I'll wade in on this:

    Setting aside the obvious question of ownership, the only way the arms will heraldically/aesthetically work on your friend's right shoulder is if he:

    1) tips the shield to the viewers right, leaving the bow of the ship pointing upward;

    2) reverses the direction the helmet faces (it should face toward his front);

    3) redraws the crest showing the back of the armoured gauntlet (don't show thumb and fingers);

    4) places the motto in the scroll, as shown.

    As others have suggested he would be better off using just the badge of a clansman, in which case he would not reverse the direction the crest faces. This is because while a crest is intended to be seen in all three dimensions, a badge is only ever seen "flat"-- to change the attitude of the charge within the strap and buckle would require a separate grant describing the direction the charge would have to face--

    and as a badge, within a strap gules, buckled and frimbriated or, thereon the motto "Aim High" argent, a cannon aimed dexter proper, upon a wreath of the colours argent and gules--

    The idea that the badge of a clansman should only be rendered in monochrome really has to do with paper heraldry, where the use of coloured inks is often regarded as "vulgar". On letters patent the stap and buckle is usually depicted as "proper", ie: leather coloured (or sometimes derived from the livery colours of the armiger) with the edge of the strap and the "furniture" (buckle, etc.) yellow (gold), and the lettering in either gold or silver -- as in the above example.

    Now a chief may instruct his clansmen as to his pleasure in how he wishes his badge to be displayed, and the Lord Lyon my provide guidance in this matter in accordance with the expressed wishes of the Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs, but heraldry being both a legal science and an art, an especially colourful art at that, there is no reason that membership in a clan can not be celebrated in glorious technicolor!

    Indeed, one may purchase a "clan crest plaque" at any tartan shop with the clansman's badge depicted in full colour-- and these are fully approved by the Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs.
    Last edited by MacMillan of Rathdown; 13th June 10 at 11:01 AM.

  9. #9
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    Thank you gentlemen for the great advice, I greatly appreciate it & will pass it along to my friend.
    [SIZE="2"][FONT="Georgia"][COLOR="DarkGreen"][B][I]T. E. ("TERRY") HOLMES[/I][/B][/COLOR][/FONT][/SIZE]
    [SIZE="1"][FONT="Georgia"][COLOR="DarkGreen"][B][I]proud descendant of the McReynolds/MacRanalds of Ulster & Keppoch, Somerled & Robert the Bruce.[/SIZE]
    [SIZE="1"]"Ah, here comes the Bold Highlander. No @rse in his breeks but too proud to tug his forelock..." Rob Roy (1995)[/I][/B][/COLOR][/FONT][/SIZE]

  10. #10
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    MacMillan of Rathdown wrote: “The idea that the badge of a clansman should only be rendered in monochrome really has to do with paper heraldry, where the use of coloured inks is often regarded as ‘vulgar’.”
    Actually, my impression is not that it has to do with printing, but rather with the metal used for the bonnet badge.
    It is not generally regarded as proper to wear an enamelled crest-badge on the balmoral, glengarry or tam o’shanter.
    Of course, if one is dealing with one’s own crest, one can do whatever one wishes, but if you are wearing a clan chief’s crest it is regarded as laying claim to it if it is in colour.
    Paintings and other illustrations are another matter. One can even display the chief’s full armorial bearings, if one wishes – as long as the display does not suggest that the person displaying the arms is the owner.
    But I would say that wearing a tattoo is more akin to wearing a bonnet badge than to what you might display on the wall.
    Regards,
    Mike
    The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life.
    [Proverbs 14:27]

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