From Lowe's Curiosities of Heraldry: “It does not seem to have occured to these allegorizing worthies that the tincture of a charge may be diametrically opposed to the signification assigned to the charge itself. For example, the coat ‘Vert, a bull's head or’ by the armilogical rules cited above, would signify, as to the tinctures, pleasure and joy, while as to the charge it would mean rage and fury. Again, ‘Purpure, a wolf argent’ would mean ‘a wrangler with a peacable disposition!!’”
I'm an Academic Herald. I'm not a "real" herald; I don't design and register people's coats of arms (though I can certainly suggest designs for those who might be interested). What I do is study, research, teach, and write about heraldry. (You can find some of my books about heraldry and a list of my articles and presentations about heraldry at "Our Website" below.) And I like to share what I have learned about heraldry, hence this blog. I hope that you'll find it informative, interesting at least occasionally, and worth your time to come back. Got a question? Comments? Feel free to ask or let me know. I'd love to hear from you. You can find my contact information in my Profile.
One of the real treasures contained in the Treasury at Basilica of St. Servatius is a gilded bust, dating to 1580, containing a relic of the Saint's skull.
As you can see, it is a beautiful piece of work. But, of course, the part that most attracted me was the enameled coats of arms encircling it between the bust of the saint and the casket the bust is mounted on.
The photo above is of the front of the reliquary, and has the arms, from left to right, of Liège, the early arms of the Holy Roman Empire (the eagle was single-headed until 1440, after which time it was double-headed), St. Servatius, and what I believe are an early form of the arms of the Province of Limburg. Certainly the second and third quarters, the upper right and lower left on the shield, match the arms of the Belgian Province of Limburg, and also match the first quarter and the inescutcheon of the modern arms of the Dutch Province of Limburg.
This photo is taken of the back, and has the arms, from left to right, of Bavaria, arms which I have not had the time to research properly to determine which entity it represents (Argent a cross sable. Do you have any idea how many plain crosses there are in European heraldry? Or even just how many black crosses on white shields there are? Lots!), another portion of the Province of Limburg (this shield appears in the second quarter of the modern arms of the Dutch Province of Limburg), and France.
These next two photos were taken from the dexter (the reliquary’s right side) and sinister (the reliquary’s left side), respectively.
Isn’t it a remarkable work? And what great heraldry, too!