ARMORIAL GOLD HERALDRY SYMBOLISM LIBRARY
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GAD-FLY (gad-bee, horse fly): A fly that so stings the cattle as to make them gad or run madly about; it makes a humming noise when flying and has a sting both great and stiff. May denote one who should never be underestimated because of the size of his army or his physical stature.
GALLEY (Lymphad): An ancient ship usually with with one mast; a feudal ensign; notable expedition by sea, by which, perhaps, the first bearers had become famous. Galleys fought in the wars of ancient Phoenicia, Greece, Carthage and Rome until the 4th century. Ancient peoples used sail-equipped galleys for both war and commerce. See Ship for more details.
GALTRAP: See Caltrap.
GAMB (Jambe): The foreleg of a lion, bear or other beast, from the knee joint; if couped or erased near the middle joint, it is called paw. Ancient symbolism signified that the bearer needed only a show a glimpse of his strength to the enemy, for this enemy to surmise the wholeness of his ferocity.
GANNET: See "Goose"; known as the Solan Goose the Gannet is one of the largest sea birds, and is known for its dives into the sea from great heights. The Gannet is well equipped by nature for these spectacular plunges; unlike most birds, it has binocular vision - that is, its eyes are positioned such that it can see forward with both. The Gannet is a symbol of the Prophet.
GARB: This heraldic term is derived from the French “gerbe”, meaning a sheaf of any kind of grain (usually wheat). It represented that the harvest of one's hopes had been secured. Also a symbol of hospitality and prosperity. Wheat is the quintessential nutritional plant. In ancient cultures it was believed to contain the mystery of life and death and thus it became a sacred plant. In Christianity, the heads of wheat symbolized the Eucharistic Bread of Life.
GILLY-FLOWER (July-flower): The Gilly-Flower was originally a lily and was bright crimson in colour; an emblem of chastity, innocence, and purity.
GAUNTLET: A glove of mail (iron). The custom in the Middle Ages, when one knight challenged another, was for the challenger to throw his gauntlet on the ground, and if the challenge was accepted the person to whom it was thrown picked it up. Signifies one who is armed for the performance of martial enterprise.
GLOVE: Falconer's or Hawking-glove. When the quarry is bolted the hawk flies fast in pursuit and seizes its prey with its talons, overpowering it through sheer strength of grip. If it misses, it is trained to return to the falconer's glove for a piece of meat. Usually borne on a shield by a bearer who was indeed a Falconer or one who successfully completed an enterprise involving a Falcon.
GOAT: The Goat-Gods Pan and Dionysius in Greek Mythology represent the forest and unbridled nature; lust in the case of Pan, and drinking and fertility in the case of Dionysius. The Goat is said to signify one who wins through politics and wit rather than war and confrontation. The Goat was a popular symbol in Christian art for the damned. This symbolism was based upon Christ's depiction of Himself at the Last Judgment as a shepherd dividing his sheep from the Goats. The constellation known as Capricornus is one of the oldest of the astrological interpretations. Saturn rules it and its symbol is the Goat. Deities associated with Goats include Aphrodite (Greek goddess of love, beauty and fertility, and the protectress of sailors) who rode Goats, Artemis (the virgin goddess of the hunt) to whom Goats were sacrificed, and Agni the Vedic (Hindu) fire-god who rides a Goat. The baby Zeus was hidden in a cave and suckled by a female Goat named Amalthea. The Goat is said to be the emblem of the martial man and is an icon representing perseverance and vitality.
GOLDEN-FLEECE: A ram stuffed and suspended by a collar round his middle. See Fleece.
GOLDFINCH: The brightly coloured canary-like bird is used as a civic emblem by several countries. It is said that the Goldfinch, in medieval times, was the symbol of protection against the plague. It has been used a talisman to ward off evil.
GOLPES: A purple roundel. Signifies a wound in battle. See Roundles.
GOOSE (greylag, wild goose, gander): A symbol of resourcefulness; an Egyptian symbol of vanity; an ancient military symbol of imminent victory. The Celts regarded the Goose as a symbol of parenthood, productive power and vigilance. Symbol of the Greek goddess Hera, goddess of women and marriage. The goose was the sacred animal and symbol of the Egyptian god, Amen, and symbol of Saint Martin of Tours.
GORGED: Collared around the neck; symbolic of high dignity.
GRACKLE: Is usually looked down on by birders because it doesn't sing and its colour is uninteresting; the Crackles are very aggressive and noisy birds who, because they colonize in such large numbers, tend to take over most situations. They are symbols of control and dominations.
GRAPES (Vines): An ancient symbol of hospitality, fertility and youthfulness. Dionysus, the Greek god of fertility, wine, and ecstasy, was popular throughout much of the ancient world. In Rome he was known as Bacchus. Grapes are fruits of the earth and give of themselves in order that we might celebrate. This symbol which Jesus used for His Blood, speaks to us of giving and of sacrifice in order that we might enjoy the benefits of His love.
GRASSHOPPER (locust): Denotes nobility and wisdom; paintings of the Christ child holding a grasshopper are symbolic of the conversion of the Gentiles; the locust, on the other hand, was the symbol of a destroyer or great warrior.
GREAT AUK: Its extermination began with a slaughter for food and bait by local inhabitants, and continued for the bird's fat and feathers. As the flightless sea birds became scarce, they were collected for a well-paid trade in skins and eggs. The last known living pair and one egg were taken in Iceland in 1844. The Great Auk is a symbol of destruction and of man's arrogance, and has been used as an emblem of conservation, and in fact, it is used by many wildlife organizations.
GREBE: Known for it spectacular courtship dance, the Grebe has been symbols of Dance, the Arts and Poetry.
GREYHOUNDS: Are one of the oldest breeds of dogs, and appear in art and literature throughout history. The breed was developed nearly 5,000 years ago in Egypt. Known in England before the 9th century, the Greyhound was bred and raised by the aristocracy. For 700 years it was illegal under English law for a commoner to own a Greyhound. It was used to hunt small game, especially hares. In ancient Egypt the Greyhound were not only companions, but they were revered and almost worshipped; they were cherished so much that a birth of one was second in importance only to the birth of a human boy. When a pet Greyhound died the entire family mourned by shaving their heads, fasting and crying. When Greyhounds died, they were buried, mummified, and placed in the tomb of their owner. Often the tombs were decorated with figures of favourite Greyhounds. Greek mythological figures were often portrayed with Greyhounds and Hecate, goddess of wealth, is often shown with a Greyhound. The same is true for Pollux, protector of the hunt. The ancient Romans also had an appreciation of the Greyhound; their Gods and Goddesses, were shown with Greyhounds. The Middle Ages were a time of famine, and the Greyhound almost became extinct. The clergymen saved them from starvation and bred them for noblemen. The Greyhound is said to denote majesty, courage, vigilance, swiftness and loyalty, and they were emblematic of nobility.
GRIFFIN: This chimerical creature has the head, wings, and talons of an eagle with the body of a lion, and is said expressed the ideal combination of swiftness, strength and intelligence. Historically the Griffin has been emblematic of valour, vigilance and death defying bravery. Guillim, an often-quoted heraldic writer says this about the Griffin, "sets forth the property of a valorous soldier whose magnanimity is such that he will dare all dangers, and even death itself, rather than become captive." This creature is as old as the time of the Phoenicians, was sacred to the sun, and kept guard over hidden treasures. It is symbolic of watchfulness, courage, perseverance, and rapidity of execution. In legend, the creature was a symbol of superbia (arrogant pride), because Alexander the Great was said to have tried to fly on the backs of Griffins to the edge of the sky. During the Middle Ages, Christian nobles searched for Griffin's eggs or "grypeseye" which they mounted and used for cups, believing they brought health to any beverage.
GROSBEAK: Said to be a healer of the family, a peacekeeper.
GUILLEMOT: A diving sea bird allied to the auks and puffins, sometimes known as the sea pigeon; it comes ashore only to breed. It was a symbol of hope to the ancient mariner.
GUTTÉE: Drops, varying in colour, according to what is intended to be represented. See Drops.
GYRON: Two straight lines from the dexter fess and chief points, meeting in an acute angle in the fess point; a symbol of unity; the joining of forces to defeat an otherwise stronger enemy or cause. Gyron - from the Spanish 'Gyron', a triangular piece of cloth sewed into a garment. The usual number of pieces is eight, but there may be six, ten, or twelve or sixteen. Denotes Unity.
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Heraldry Symbolism Library by Armorial Gold Heraldry Services is provided as a free resource tool for Heraldry enthusiasts. The Heraldry Symbolism Library and the information contained therein, has been researched through original manuscripts and Armorial Golds own sources. The Heraldry Symbolism Library is provided as a free resource tool for Heraldry enthusiasts. Reproduction in any form is prohibited.