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Thread: Compartment?

  1. #1
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    Compartment?

    What is the meaning, if any, of the compartment in heraldry? I have read that it is rare to have a coat of arms that has a compartment but no supporters. Does anyone know of any surnames that have a coat of arms with a compartment but no supporters? Thanks.

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    I'm very new in this area and have begun what I think to be my next hobby/obsession. I will defer to others more knowledgable of course. I believe a compartment is a mount. It is a device upon which the shield may rest.
    [I][B]Ad fontes[/B][/I]

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    I had never heard the term before, so, as ever when in such a strait, I turn to Fox-Davies, who has this to say:

    A compartment is anything depicted below the shield as a foothold or resting-place for the supporters, or indeed for the shield itself. Sometimes it is a fixed part of the blazon and a constituent part of the heritable heraldic bearings. At other times it is a matter of mere artistic fancy, and no fixed rules exist to regulate or control nor even to check the imagination of the heraldic artist.

    He goes on rather at some length. For those who are curious, see Chapter XXVI of A Complete Guide to Heraldry, A. C. Fox-Davies, 2007, Skyhorse Publishing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. MacDougall View Post
    I had never heard the term before, so, as ever when in such a strait, I turn to Fox-Davies, who has this to say:

    A compartment is anything depicted below the shield as a foothold or resting-place for the supporters, or indeed for the shield itself. Sometimes it is a fixed part of the blazon and a constituent part of the heritable heraldic bearings. At other times it is a matter of mere artistic fancy, and no fixed rules exist to regulate or control nor even to check the imagination of the heraldic artist.

    He goes on rather at some length. For those who are curious, see Chapter XXVI of A Complete Guide to Heraldry, A. C. Fox-Davies, 2007, Skyhorse Publishing.
    That really says it all.

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    As for supporters, I would want to understand who uses them, what they communicate and what may be the restrictions to their usage.
    [I][B]Ad fontes[/B][/I]

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    found a couple diagrams for examples. This has sparked my interest in learning more about meanings and restrictions as well.
    http://www.oshel.com/images/diagram.gif
    http://www.heritage.nsw.gov.au/state...s_diagram1.jpg

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    In heraldry, a "compartment" is a design placed under the shield, usually rocks, a grassy mount, or some sort of other landscape upon which the supporters are depicted as standing. Care must be taken to distinguish true compartments from items upon which supporters are merely resting one or more feet, or, sometimes, mere heraldic badges or pure decoration under the shield, and, conversely, care must also be taken in very unusual cases such as the coat of arms of Belize, in which what may be taken to be a crest, the mahogany tree rising above the shield, is really part of the compartment. It is sometimes said to represent the land held by the bearer. As an official part of the blazon it is a comparatively late feature of heraldry, often derived from the need to have different supporters for different families or entities, although sometimes the compartment is treated in the blazon separately from the supporters.

    The decorative flourish which was often placed by heraldic artists under the feet, hooves or paws of supporters, chiefly in the 19th century, was disparagingly known by some as the "gas bracket," although this term never had any official currency; the only case in which something similar was ever actually mentioned in the blazon was the "arabesque" vert on which the whale supporters of Zaanstad, Noord Holland, the Netherlands, balance.

    Usually when arms are augmented by supporters, a compartment will be added too. In rare cases, a compartment might be granted as an augmentation. [B]A compartment without supporters is possible but practically unknown, with the exception of the Coat of Arms of South Australia : the shield has the Piping Shrike within a golden disc (officially said to represent the rising sun) on a blue background; the Piping Shrike is the unofficial bird emblem of South Australia and also appears on the State Badge; the crest is the Sturt's desert pea, the floral emblem of South Australia, on top of a wreath of the State colours; the coat of arms has no supporters and the compartment, or base, is a grassland with symbols of agriculture and industry, and a motto with the name "South Australia".

    A compartment is usually some kind of landscape (in the case of Scottish chiefs it is generally a "mount vert" - grassy mount covered with the clan's flower) or seascape, and these can be quite elaborate, particularly in more recent Canadian grants, such as the compartment of the University of Northern British Columbia, in which the female kermodei bear and woodland caribou buck stand on a forest, mountain peaks and ears of wheat, all rising out of the conventionalised heraldic representation of water, which is itself charged with an orca as designed by Ron Sebastian. (Compartments can have a specific piece of geography; Kenya's compartment is Mount Kenya and the compartment of ArbelŠez, Cundinamarca, Colombia is a globe.) However, there are some unusual compartments. The compartment of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada is a quadrangle. The arms of the former Cumberland County Council have a wall as a compartment, while the Canadian Academy of Engineering has a bridge spanning water. The chief of Clan Donnachaidh has a man in chains as a compartment, while that of Dundas of that Ilk is "a salamander in flames of fire".
    The arms of Gisborne, New Zealand contain another unique compartment. The compartment is a unique departure in Heraldry, being totally in a Maori expression. It represents the Maori people as the original inhabitants of New Zealand and the 'base' on which the area's achievement' is built. The Koruru head, in Maori Carving, is the "keeper of the House" and is placed at the apex of the entrance gable of every Meeting House. The Takitimu and Horouta canoes, according to Maori legend were those which landed on the East Coast at the time of the great migration and from which landed the ancestors of the present tribes in residence.
    Andrew Philip
    NE TARDE PAS

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    Supporters

    Quote Originally Posted by Detroitpete View Post
    As for supporters, I would want to understand who uses them, what they communicate and what may be the restrictions to their usage.
    This varies from one heraldic jurisdiction to another-- the rules in Great Britain being different than, say, Hungary. In the UK supporters are generally limited to hereditary peers and former peers, those who are knights grand cross in any of the sovereign's orders of chivalry, most Scottish chiefs, some feudal barons, and those not in the above categories who can prove an ancient use of supporters. The practice in Ireland and Scotland has been, in the past, to allow supporters to those who have been granted same in a foreign jurisdiction-- Gayre of Gayre and Nigg, comes to mind. Although a Scottish chief, Gayre's supporters were by Royal Grant of the King of Italy, and were duly entered in the registers as such.

    In Britain supporters are an augmentation of the arms, and only descend to the inheritor of the undifferenced arms. In the instance of knights grand cross (and life peers) the supporters are granted for the lifetime of the individual and do not transmit to any heraldic heir. In continental usage supporters may, in some instances, transmit to all heraldic heirs-- there is no "universal" rule (like gravity) that applies everywhere.

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    In the Society for Creative Anachronism, supporters are allowed anyone with an Award of Arms, but are not registered with the College of Heralds, unlike the device itself.

  10. #10
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    I was looking at designing my own arms and registering them at the American College of Heraldry. I tried to e-mail them the question from my original post but I get a 404 error from their website. I know that they won't register supporters unless it is an organization. They are vague on compartments.

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