[ANSTHRLD] Japanese armory

tmcd@panix.com tmcd at panix.com
Mon Jul 21 11:23:44 PDT 2003

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"Stefen and Rhonda Hays" <housedragonstar at earthlink.net> wrote:
> So how about Japanese armory?
> Gules, an eido chaos sable.
> Red field, six horizontal bars, bars 1, 3, 4 and 5 are really two small
> bars side by side, 2 and 6 are one long bar.

Leaving aside the color-on-color for a bit, RfS VII.7.b:

    b.  Reconstruction Requirement - Elements must be reconstructible
        in a recognizable form from a competent blazon.

        Any element used in Society armory must be describable in
        standard heraldic terms so that a competent heraldic artist
        can reproduce the armory solely from the blazon.  Elements
        that cannot be described in such a way that the depiction of
        the armory will remain consistent may not be used, even if
        they are identifiable design motifs that were used before
        1600. ...

In particular, from Da'ud 2.2 precedents,

    [A Japanese stream] The primary charge is not blazonable in
    standard heraldic terminology, as required by RfS VII.7.b. ("Any
    element used in Society armory must be describable in standard
    heraldic terms").  The closest anyone could come here was
    barrulets bevilled arrondy, and even that does not truly describe
    the nature of the charges or their partial conjoining. (Da'ud ibn
    Auda, LoAR September 1995, pp. 24-25)

The best blazon I can come up with is
    Gules, between two bars couped six billets fesswise in fess two
    two and two, in chief two billets fesswise in fess sable.

There's the common saying "Difficulty in blazon is usually evidence of
non-period style".  This resembles no European armorial style that
I've seen.  But we've allowed other improbable but blazonable
arrangements before, so I don't think that this fact alone would be
cause for return.

But the question is "blazonable arrangement".  I would have to see an
emblazon, but I suspect that the emblazon is not likely to be
reproduced from that blazon, so I suspect that it would be returnable
for that alone.  But that depends very much on the emblazon.

As for color-on-color:

> I know that some German armory has the gules on sable thing (though
> I seem to recall someone telling me that it wasn't really sable,
> just badly tarnished silver).

It is generally considered today that really sable on really gules is
not uncommon in Germanic heraldry, though you can probably find plenty
of examples of things where they originally used silver leaf or some
such and it indeed tarnished.

In the SCA, the rule isn't just for German and period compatibility
has to be proven anew with each submission that breaks such a rule.
The actual rule is RfS VIII.6,

    6.  Documented Exceptions - An armorial design element that is
        adequately documented as a period practice *may* be deemed
        acceptable even if it violates other sections of Part VIII
        (Compatible Armorial Style).

        Such design elements will be accepted only on a case-by-case
        basis and only in armory comparable in style and complexity to
        the documented period examples.  The strength of the case for
        such an exception increases in proportion to: the similarity
        of the documented examples to the submitted armory; and the
        number of independent period examples offered as evidence.

      a.  General Exceptions - In most cases the documentation for a
          proposed exceptional armorial design element should be drawn
          from several European heraldic jurisdictions.

          The strength of the case for such an exception increases in
          proportion to the geographical and chronological breadth of
          the supporting period evidence.

      b.  Regional Style - Alternatively, a proposed exceptional
          armorial design element may be documented as characteristic
          of a specific regional armorial style.

          In such cases the submitted armory *may* be registered
          provided that *all* of the following conditions are met.
          (1) The submitter explicitly requests an exception to the
          other sections of Part VIII (Compatible Armorial Style) on
          the grounds that the submitted armory exemplifies a specific
          regional style.  (2) Documentation is adduced to show that
          exceptional design element was not uncommon in the regional
          style in question.  (3) Documentation is adduced to show
          that *all* elements of the submitted armory can be found in
          the regional style in question.
You'd have to show a fair number of cases, then, of similar armory,
which would probably mean arrangements of long bars and short broken
bars or such.  Without such documentation, it would also be returned
for color-on-color.  If the documentation adduced were purely
Japanese, I suspect that the College of Arms would have a bit of
philosophical trouble, even though we've registered Japanese names
without comment for years -- that is, there would be less benefit of
the doubt than if the documentation were, say, Swedish in origin.

So I see one almost certain and one somewhat solid cause for return.

I would point out to such a submitter that the SCA is focused on
Western European culture and that designs have to be blazonable in and
conforming with Western European heraldry.  HOWEVER, I think it's
quite possible to design something that's notably Japanese but also
works in Western European terms too, but I'm no expert on kamon so I
can't offer much help.  I'd ask what tinctures they prefer and if they
had any idea of charges.  I'd then come to the SCA Heralds' list and
scream for help.

Daniel de Lincolia
Tim McDaniel, tmcd at panix.com; tmcd at us.ibm.com is my work address

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