Does your family have an age-old coat of arms?
Would you like to create a contemporary one and have some fun with your family tree?
When MyHeritage.com acquired OSN, we also acquired their popular Family Crest Builder.
It's easy to start creating your family's coat of arms. Go to your MyHeritage family site, click Family Tree, and click Family Crest in the tabs. The new tab is only visible if you have already added people to your tree.
Even if your family isn't descended from a European noble family with a prestigious coat of arms dating to the Middle Ages, you can now design your own and even use it as a background for your tree.
See (below left) some of the Crest Builder elements. At right, see the elements of a traditional coat of arms.
Coats of arms, family crests? What are they? What do those symbols, colors and elements mean?
A traditional coat of arms may include the following elements:
Scroll: A banner or ribbon on which the surname is written.
Crest: A crest is the topmost element of the design.
Helmet: Worn by knights during battles.
Mantle: Placed over the knights' helmet; the colors were important.
Crown: Kept the mantle in place. Some show a wreath instead.
Coat of Arms: The shield with small design elements called charges.
Motto: Some families have a family motto.
Begin by thinking about your family, occupations, special interests, and even colors that might have special meaning to you.
Think about various symbols indicating professions. What's in your background? Are there doctors, farmers, shipbuilders, teachers, writers?
First, choose a shield shape with numerous layout possibilities, including a single field or two or more sections.
Select colors (left) for the internal fields - if you click on the bottom square in the color list you can choose from more colors and shades.
In the Middle Ages, a distinct terminology was developed for describing coats of arms, allowing these historic visual designs to be accurately described and reproduced.
Colors (with their heraldic name) have important meanings in heraldry:
Gold (Or): Generosity; elevation of the mind
Silver or White (argent): Peace, sincerity
Red (gules): Warrior or martyr; Military strength and magnanimity
Blue (azure): Truth, loyalty
Green (vert): Hope, joy, and loyalty in love
Black (sable): Constancy or grief
Purple (purpure): Royal majesty, sovereignty, and justice
Orange (tawny or tenne): Worthy ambition
Maroon (sanguine or murray): Patient in battle, yet victorious
Sometimes drops of color are used within the fields for additional meanings: strong>Yellow = gold, Blue = tears, Green=oil, White = water, Black = pitch or tar, Red = blood.
"Charges" are symbols used in these designs. They include images of people, diverse trade tools, weapons, wild animals, mythological monsters, celestial icons, flowers, trees, castles, towers, food, household items, birds, fish, ships and more. These elements stood for the occupation, hopes, ambitions of the person for whom the complete design was created.
The Crest Builder also features various symbols (charges) to bracket your shield (such as dragons or lions), smaller or "charges" to place within the shield's sections, banners or "scrolls" for your surname to place under the crest and more.
I found an authentic crest for TALAYA, one of our variant spellings. It is a tower of gold on silver rocks ... not bad!
For more information on heraldry, including meanings of colors and symbols, check out these resources:
Fleur-de-lis Designs: Extensive information on the meanings of elements used in creating coats of arms or family crests.
Heraldic Express: Explains the parts of a family crest or coat of arms.
Sephardim.com: Coats of arms for many Sephardic families.
Have fun with this new feature! Let us know what you've done with it.
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