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Blazons & Genealogy Notes

First notation: 1764 ennoblement W polu zielonym niedźwiedź kroczący czarny.

Origin, Meaning, Family History and Niedzwiedz Czarny Coat of Arms and Family Crest

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Niedzwiedz Czarny Coat of Arms Meaning

The main device (symbol) in the Niedzwiedz Czarny blazon is the bear. The two main tinctures (colors) are sable and ver.

Sable, the deep black so often found in Heraldry is believed to named from an animal of the marten family know in the middle ages as a Sabellinœ and noted for its very black fur 1. In engravings, when colors cannot be shown it is represented as closely spaced horizontal and vertical lines, and appropriately is thus the darkest form of hatching, as this method is known 2. Although it may seem a sombre tone, and does indeed sometimes denote grief, it is more commonly said to represent Constancy 3.

Special patterns, of a distinctive shape are frequently used in heraldry and are know as furs, representing the cured skins of animals 4. Although they were originally derived from real creatures the actual patterns have become highly stylised into simple geometric shapes, bell-like in the case of vair. 5. vair is a particularly interesting example that resonates today – the “glass” slippers worn by Cinderella are actually a mis-translation of “vair” (i.e. fur) slippers, the very same vair that appears in heraldry! 6

The bear is more common in the arms of continental Europe than in British arms (possibly due to the lack of bears native to that country!), although the county of Warwickshire famously includes a bear in its arms. 7 Wade tells us that the bear is the “emblem of ferocity and the protection of kindred”. 8

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References

  • 1 A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Sable
  • 2 Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 26
  • 3 The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P35
  • 4 Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 28
  • 5 Understanding Signs & Symbols – Heraldry, S. Oliver & G. Croton, Quantum, London, 2013, P46-49
  • 6 A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Vair
  • 7 A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Bear
  • 8 The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P63