In the past, a family crest was printed onto a flag and used to identify individual groups or clans in battle. Over time, these crests became status symbols for many of the wealthiest families in the world. But reading a family crest properly can be an intense and arduous process.
Here are three things that you need to know about reading a family crest in order to make the process a little easier as you examine family crest plaques in the future.
1. Start with the background color.
Many family crests are contained within the boundaries of a shape resembling a shield. This shield is filled in with a background color, which could tell the observer a lot about the family to which the crest belonged.
Some colors were off-limits to anyone without royal blood, while other colors were reserved for families who had dedicated their life to religious service. When reading a family crest, you should always start with the background color of the shield.
2. Examine how the shield is divided.
Since most family crests contain more than one element, the area within the shield must be divided into smaller sections in order to allow for the distinct separation of these elements. The ways in which a shield can be divided are varied, but no two family crests are divided in exactly the same way.
By examining how the shield is divided, you can easily differentiate between two family crests that feature very similar design elements.
3. Look at the elements included in the family crest.
The final thing that you should look at when reading a family crest is the actual design elements incorporated into the crest itself.
Many crests feature a banner containing a motto that governs the family. Certain animals (like the stag, the lion, or the boar) were used to portray elements of grace, strength, or cunning. When you take the time to carefully examine the design elements that are incorporated into a family crest, you can tell a lot about the type of family to whom the crests belongs.
Being able to read a family crest will not only allow you to examine historical crests, but it could help you design a crest for your own family. Remember to start with the background color, look at the division of the shield, and examine the design elements to successfully read any family crest in the future.
Or if you are interested in designing your own family crest or having your crest displayed in your home, contact plaque companies like Heraldry & Crests.