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A Study on Ordinaries in Medieval European Heraldry

  • Journal of Humanities
  • 2018, (70), pp.65-87
  • DOI : 10.31310/HUM.070.03
  • Publisher : Institute for Humanities
  • Research Area : Humanities > Other Humanities
  • Received : July 16, 2018
  • Accepted : August 2, 2018
  • Published : August 31, 2018

Yun-Sun Kim 1

1성균관대학교 하이브리드미래문화연구소

Accredited

ABSTRACT

The coat of arms is closely related to feudalism in Western medieval society, especially knightly cultures. It is not only the mark of the knights in the battlefield but also the symbol of recognition and authority in the medieval society. As the status of the knights is dismantled, the coat of arms has expanded into the life of the commoners. It symbolizes the identity of individuals and the communities, rather than exposing the aspects of social discrimination. Since the 19th century, the coat of arms has been studied in the two categories such as ordinary and general. Ordinary heraldries are composed of lines and facets, and the general ones comprise of the humans and the natural objects. Due to their spatial restrictions of being used for shields, however, heraldries have followed the strict rules to deliver compressive meanings, thus creating ordinaries and general heraldries. Studies on these heraldries have become meaningful when the representation of medieval cultures flourishes in the field of the cultural industry today. In this context, this paper attempts to study the geometric shapes represented in medieval European heraldry. Geometric shapes which have been explained within the rules of heraldry are not expanded into general research on figures only. It is not easy to trace and analyze the meanings of figures. In this paper, I have reviewed the basic meanings and symbols on figures in order to help contribute to decoding the ordinaries of medieval European heraldry. For this purpose, I have studied the origin and the development of heraldry, the classification of heraldry, the relationship between the line segment and color, and the characteristics and the meanings of the ordinaries.

Citation status

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This paper was written with support from the National Research Foundation of Korea.