Monday, October 5, 2009

Real Heraldry ...

... in Las Vegas? Out in the desert of southern Nevada? Really? Well, yes, but they actually copied it from Italy, so it’s not like it’s native heraldry.

Outside of Caesar’s Palace on the Las Vegas Strip (which consists of Las Vegas Boulevard South going south from where Sahara Avenue crosses it out past the city limits) they have, among other things, a working scaled-down (but still large) replica of the Trevi Fountain in Rome, Italy. Near that replica is another fountain, pictured here, also copied from the real one in Rome, with those really great dolphins (urinant, if we’re going to use the heraldic term for their posture) holding up that big escallop shell with their tails, atop which (the shell) is a triton pouring water out of a whelk shell. It’s a very exuberant composition all in all.

Nestled into the space between two of the dolphins’ bodies is an achievement of arms. Specifically, it’s the arms of Pope Urban VIII (born Maffeo Barberini), whose arms were Azure three bees or. Here, the arms are carved with the crossed keys of St. Peter issuing from behind the shield, each key encircled by a dolphin’s tail, and the shield itself surmounted by the papal tiara. You can see them better in the detail of the fountain here.

Who’d have thought that you would, or could, find a papal achievement of arms in the middle of the American southwest? I swear, I think it becomes truer every time I say it: "Heraldry is everywhere!"

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