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Line (heraldry)

The lines used to divide and vary fieldss and charges in heraldry are by default straight, but may have many different shapes. (Care must sometimes be taken to distinguish these shapes from actual charges, such as "a mount [or triple mount] in base," or, particularly in German heraldry, different kinds of embattled from castle walls.) The most common include the following:

Table of contents
1 Exotic line shapes
2 Reference
3 See also

Exotic line shapes

The heraldry of the Society of Creative Anachronism (SCA) includes a "per fess indented of five points," but specifying the number of points is unusual if not otherwise unheard-of.[1]

While the number of peaks in dancetty are three unless otherwise specified, the arms of Wagland show dancetty of two points[1] and the arms of Baz Manning show an (identical in appearance) "dancetty of two full points upwards"[1]. The arms of the Free State in South Africa show "a chief dancetty, the peaks terminating in merlons," and so might be called a combination of dancetty and embattled. It is difficult to know whether to characterise the "wall-like extremity with five merlons and four embrasures" in the arms of the Kurgan Oblast in Russia as a divided field or a charge.[1]

The arms of Schellenberg, in Liechtenstein, provide an example of embattled "with three battlements." The arms of the 2nd Baron Kirkwood, David Kirkwood, show two chevronels round embattled (the merlons are rounded rather than squares). The arms of Anders Daae show battled embattled.

James Parker cites the arms of Christopher Draisfield: "Gules, a chevron raguly of two bastons couped at the top argent."[1]

Some examples also exist of urdy, where the line is in the shapes of the upside-down and rightside-up "shields" of vair.

The arms of Ernest John Altobello show a chevronel with the upper edge grady (this is identical in appearance to indented) "and ensigned of a tower Argent".

The arms of the Royal Australian College of Dental Surgeons have a bordure emblazoned "dentate," although this appears to be quite similar to dovetailed.

The rare line bevilled modifies the bendlets in the arms of Barne.

The arms of Carmichael show a fess "wreathy," which may or may not be strictly speaking a line of partition, but it does modify the fess; the coat is not blazoned as a "wreath in fess". James Parker calls this "tortilly."[1]

The 20th century saw some innovations in lines of partition. Erablé, a series of alternating upside-down and rightside-up maple-leaves (though a typically Canadian line of partition, the College of Arms in London has used it in a few grants [1] and a Finnish line of partition, invented by Kaj Cajander, which the Canadian Heraldic Authority coined the term sapine to blazon, resembles spruce twigs (though the arms of Naas and Altmelon in Austria show a similar line)[1]). Other 20th-century examples of lines, or things akin to lines, include the 1990 grant to Albersdorf-Prebuch, also in Austria, in which the upper line of the fess takes the form of fruit, the bottom of vine-leaves. (It is debatable what the distinction is between such lines, and examples such as the Austrian arms of Bierbaum am Auersbach, in which three pears grow from a shakefork.)[1]

South Africa's Heraldic Authority has developed the line of partition serpentine, which is rather like wavy, but with only one "wave".[1] Similar is the German "im Schlangenschnitt" (snake-wise).

Chiefs, fesses and palar dividing lines are sometimes seen arched and double-arched, though there is some debate as to whether or not these are lines of partition.

Some mentions of a line "crested" or "wavy crested" exist (in the form of stylised "cresting" waves), and while one source[1] thinks it might be an SCA invention, SCA has actually rejected this line[1].

A shield horizontally and vertically divided into red (upper left and lower right) and silver with sawedged lines would be blazoned: Quarterly indented gules and argent.

Chevrons can be topped with a fleur-de-lys, and ordinaries with a non-straight border (particularly if they are dancetty or engrailed) can have the points topped with demi fleurs-de-lys. In some reference works flory-counter-flory is treated like a line of partition, even though strictly speaking it is not. (However, Modar Neznanich of the Society for Creative Anachronism's Barony of the Forgotten Sea has, in SCA's heraldry, Per pale flory-counterflory argent ermined purpure and purpure, to sinister a mullet of eight interlocking mascles argent, all within a bordure counterchanged.)

In Scotland lines of partition are often used to modify a bordure to difference the arms of a cadet from the chief of the house.


See also

Variations of ordinaries