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TABOUR: A small drum formerly used to accompany oneself on a pipe or fife. See Musical pipes.

TAILS: The tail of a deer is called a single; that of a boar is called a wreath; that of a fox is called the brush and that of the hare is called the scut. In Heraldry, you find the tail of a lion or of a beaver most prevalent, and to show the tail only was representative of an amulet of good fortune, believed to endow the bearer with the traits, and characteristics of the animal.

TALBOT: Said to be an ancestor of the Bloodhound, the ancient Talbot (a name of Norman origin) is depicted white or sometimes golden brown. It is a hound that existed in medieval Europe, having long pendent ears and noted for his quick scent and his eager pursuit of game. It is said that the Talbot thrived on the hunt rather than the kill. By the 1600's, this strain of hound had died out as a breed. A forerunner of the modern fox and staghounds, they apparently had most remarkable powers of scent and were betoken on one of courage and forecast, vigilance and loyal fidelity. Used primarily for tracking and hunting, it is said however, the British had Talbots run alongside coaches on the ancient highways; this might explain why so many pubs bore its name. In Medieval times, 'Talbot' appeared to be common name for any hound; in a quotation from about 1449, the king referred to John Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury as 'Talbott, oure good dogge', perhaps as a play on his name, or perhaps an allusion to the family coat of arms.

TASSEL: It was a tassel that was commanded by God to be worn on the borders of all Jewish garments. It became not only an emblem of Christianity but, one of authority, repute and majesty.

TAPER-CANDLESTICK: Has a spike, or, as it is technically termed, a picket, upon which the taper is placed; a symbol of the Church, which should be a light in the world. A symbol of any light-giving agency. The light which "symbolizes the knowledge of God is not the sun or any natural light, but an artificial light supplied with a specially prepared oil; for the knowledge of God is in truth not natural nor common to all men, but furnished over and above nature."

TARGET (targe): The Scottish "targe" was a small circular shield, used by highlanders as a defence against both arrows and hand weapons. It was light and manoeuvrable, often concealing a left-hand held dirk (dagger. It was leather-covered wood with metal mounts, a central spike and leather arm straps; a symbol of a defender and the martial man; a Scottish emblem.

TEA PLANT (or leaves): Tea was considered to have an aura of the gods and was used as a combination of medicine and elixir. In China, in the eighth century, it entered the realm of poetry as one of the polite amusements. It is said that earliest samples of tea reached England somewhere between 1652 and 1654 when King Charles II ended his exile in Holland, and re-established the English Monarchy. When used as emblems the tea plant or leaf, denote wisdom, resolution and strength.

TEAL: A small dabbling duck, the ancient Teal were known for their swiftness and were popular as game birds. Representative of the hunt, the Teal fowl also signified earnestness and quickness of action. See Duck

TEAZEL: The head or seed-vessel of a species of thistle; bearing a large flower head covered with stiff, prickly, hooked bracts. This flower head, when dried, is used for raising a nap on woollen cloth and is a symbol of the weaver trade. To the faithful they were known in some regions as 'Our Lady's Little Brushes', calling to mind Mary's motherly care for the Infant Saviour.

TENCH: A food and sport fish of the carp family, the Tench is a stout, small-scaled fish with a barbell at each corner of its mouth and a thick, slimy skin. The ancients believed that the Tench was able to cure injured fishes and was often applied to human wounds; a symbol of forgiveness, regimen and sovereign remedy.

TENT ROYAL: This is the Royal war tent, which is more ornamental than a sperver and should have a split pennon flowing towards the sinister. The device was bestowed upon one as a laurel and achievement of war; a noble insignia. See also Pavilion.

TERN: Also known as the graceful gull, the Tern are harbingers of Spring and the hopes of a bountiful harvest, and have been used to represent one who is always optimistic.

THATCH-RAKE: An instrument used in thatching. In Europe thatched homes evolved during medieval times. Thatching is the use of straw or grasses as a roofing material. In 1300 the great Norman castle at Pevensey (Sussex) bought up 6 acres of rushes, to roof the hall and chambers; the marquee of a thatcher.

THISTLE: The Order of the Thistle represents the highest honour in Scotland, and it is second only in precedence to the Order of the Garter. It was to reward Scottish peers who supported the king's political and religious aims. The date of the foundation of the Order is not known, although legend has it that it was founded in 809 when King Achaius made an alliance with the Emperor Charlemagne. It is possible that the Order may have been founded by James III (1488-1513), who was responsible for changes in royal symbolism in Scotland, including the adoption of the thistle as the royal plant badge; symbol of independence, strength, protection and healing.

THORN TREE: Believed to be the plant from which Christ's crown of thorns was made from. See Thorn.

THORN (crown of): The origin and character of the thorns, both tradition and existing remains suggest that they must have come from the bush botanically known as Zizyphus spina Christi, more popularly, the jujube-tree. This reaches the height of fifteen or twenty feet and is found growing in abundance by the wayside around Jerusalem. The crooked branches of this shrub are armed with thorns growing in pairs, a straight spine and a curved one commonly occurring together at each point. The thorn tree and the crown of thorns are symbolic of Christ and of martyrdom.

THRESTLE (perch): Usually signifies a hawk's perch, consisting of two cylindrical pieces of wood joined in the form of the letter T. It was the symbol of a falconer or hawker.

THROSTLE (Thrush): Known as the concert singer because it has a wide range of songs. Lovers of music have been known to use the Throstle as a representative symbol.

THRUSH: A songbird symbolic of solitude and poetry. The poet identified with the Thrush by the semantic double meaning of the verb 'to sing', which literally means to utter sounds and to write poems as well; a symbol of concord.

THUNDERBOLT: Twisted bar, normally with rays of lightning behind it. If shown winged as in the margin it is the symbol of Zeus, supreme god of Greek mythology. In ancient mythologies, (Norse, Roman, Greek, Egyptian, etc.) the lighting bolt would be hurled by male sky gods to punish, water, or fertilize the earth or its creatures. It is a symbol of power, defiance of danger, and fortitude.

THYRSUS: A pole carried by Bacchus/Dionysus (the twice-born, the god of the vine), and by Satyrs, Maenades, and others who engaged in Bacchic festivities and rites, and was sometimes terminated by the apple of the pine, or fir-cone.

TIARA: The triple crown of the popes, known as a tiara, dates from the 14th century and is surmounted by a globe and a cross (an orb). It is a symbol of sovereign power, also honour, and especially the reward of martyrdom.

TIGER: The Tiger often took the place of the lion as King of Beasts in Eastern mythology. It's symbolic of royalty, power, and fearlessness, and was known to be dangerous if aroused. In China the Tiger is Lord of the 'land animals' and is an emblem of authority and power. The Chinese have long held the Tiger in high esteem and regard; in folklore, they called it "Hu-Fu" or 'tiger seal' and is considered undisputedly the king of all animals and one of the few important celestial beings after the dragon and phoenix. It is the emblem of some military officers, typifying war, might and courage. Evidence dating from the Warring States of China shows that the token used by emperors and generals for military manoeuvres was structured in the form of a Tiger. In Japan, although it is a mythical animal only, it is said to live a thousand years and was adopted as an emblem of the warrior class. In India, Durga rides a tiger, and Siva is often shown wearing a tiger skin. Bacchus (Roman god of wine) had his cart drawn by tigers, and tigers drawn by artists crouching at the feet of Bacchus, are documented well. Since antiquity, the fearless tiger has played a significant role in royalty and the military, and for centuries was the emblem of authority and power.


TINES (tynes): A prong or point of an antler. The symbolism is that, that relates to the animal bearing the antlers. It is however said that the more tynes, the more power, strength and wisdom.

TITYRUS: Guillim calls this a “bigenerous beast, of unkindly generation, engendered between a goat and a ram”. It has the body and head of a goat with horns of the latter plus horns of the ram. Sometimes referred to as a Musimon, this medieval beast is a symbol of one in authority and influence who leads with fortitude and vigor. The Symbolism of the goat and ram would also be appropriate.

TOBACCO PLANT (and leaf): So named from Tabaco, a province of Yucatan, in Spanish America, where it was first found by the Spaniards. To the early Europeans, tobacco was first seen as a "cure-all" medicine and used to treat all kinds of disease. It was (ironically) a symbol of healing and purification.

TOMB-STONE: Derived from the Greek tymbos [burial ground]. Denotes constancy, inspiration, bereavement; mortality.

TON (or tun): Large cask for holding liquids, especially wine, ale, or beer. See Barrel.

TORCE (torse, wreath): A wreath of twisted skeins of silks of two alternating tinctures, usually a metal and a colour, depicted supporting a crest, often upon a helmet but occasionally borne separately. The wreath is also an ancient head ornament of the Saracens and Turks and may represent a notable expedition involving these tribes.

TORCH (flambeau, fire-brand): A light to be carried in the hand, consisting usually of twisted flax or the like soaked with tallow, ignited at the upper end. It is a symbol of the source of illumination, enlightenment, and guidance; often referred to as the torch of learning.

TORN: An ancient name for a spinning wheel. It is said the spinning wheel was probably invented in India, though its origins are obscure. It reached Europe via the Middle East in the European Middle Ages. The Saxon, or Saxony wheel, introduced in Europe at the beginning of the 16th century, incorporated a bobbin on which the yarn was wound continuously; the distaff on which the raw fibre was held became a stationary vertical rod, and the wheel was actuated by a foot treadle, thus freeing both of the operator's hands. Another of the many weavers symbols often found in heraldry. Other than being an emblem representative of the trade, the spinning wheel has no heraldic symbolism that the author could find.

TORTEAU: A red roundel. See Roundles.

TORTOISE (turtle): Once prized as a major source of meat for sailors in the 17th and 18th centuries, the Tortoise is a symbol of longevity, patience and practicality; strength and time. It is also one of independence because it takes its home with it and is well protected. The name Tortoise (Lat. testuoo) is given to the ancient Roman protective shelter formed by soldiers with shields overlapping above their heads when attacking a fort. As the feminine power of the waters the Tortoise was an emblem of Aphrodite/Venus; also of Hermes/Mercury in Greco-Roman myth; sacred to 'pan' among the Arcadians and killing it was prohibited. Also, because of its hard shell, it was representative of one who was invulnerable to attack.

TOUCAN: This beautiful and colorful rainforest bird has been associated with evil spirits, and said to be the incarnation of a demon; the father of a new child must not eat Toucan flesh as it might bewitch the new-born child and cause it to fade away…so the myth goes. The Spanish weren't too sure what to think of the bird, but they did give it its name. Sacred to the Incas and revered by the Maya, the Toucan was a mystic symbol and a tribal totem; the medicine men considered it an incarnation to fly to the spirit world.

TOWER: A castle tower. The emblem of grandeur and society. See Castle.

TREFOIL: A three-leaved figure usually slipped at the base and symbolic of perpetuity.

TRESSURE, TRESSURE FLORY COUNTER-FLORY: Preservation or protection. The tressure fleury counter-fleury was adopted by a Scottish King to commemorate that close alliance which existed between France and Scotland for so many ages.

TRESTLE: A stool of three legs. Can be shown in different ways. See Stool.

TRIANGLE: The triangle was a symbol for God. In Christian symbolism it stands for the Holy Trinity. It is also a symbol for power and, as such, related to danger. However, according to the law of the polarity of meanings of the elementary graphs, it also means success, prosperity, and safety. The Hittites used it to mean well, good, or healthy.

TRIDENT: The staff of Poseidon (in Greece) and the staff of Neptune (in the Roman Empire) are referred to as tridents. Poseidon was the younger brother of Zeus and master of the seas, rivers, and earthquakes in Greek mythology. The symbol was representative of seniority and supremacy by sea. In the Euphrates-Tigris region and along the eastern Mediterranean coast the trident has since time immemorial been a symbol of thunder and lightning. In Christian art the trident is an attribute of lesser devils and the Evil One, the staff of the Devil.

TRILLIUM FLOWER: Trillium literally means "three parted lily, and it was Linnaeus (the naturalist) who created this fitting name to describe the tripleness of this forest wild flower. The State wild flower of the Ohio and the Provincial flower of Ontario (Canada), the Trillium can reach heights of 18 inches. With age they can turn to pink. Popular folklore says that if a Trillium is picked off a mountain, it will cause rain. The white trillium is a symbol of beauty, purity, healing and is often associated with the Trinity, a Christian doctrine, stating that God exists as three persons, or in the Greek hypostases, but is one being. The root was used by native North American Indians and the early settlers, for medicinal purposes. The Trillium is referred to by some as the Wake-Robin, likely because its an early spring bloomer, and by others as the Western lily, the latter resulting in the adoption of some of the symbolism associated with the European lily

TRIMOUNT: A stylized hillock of three mounds in base; was probably rendered in the earliest coats of arms as a natural mountain having three summits; popular in Italian Heraldry. See Mount and Mound.

TROWEL: A tool used to work mortar and symbolic of the stone masons trade. This emblem serves as a reminder that we should always endeavour to build and improve ourselves; it is also a symbol of unity and peace; an ancient symbol, of the Freemasons and also of the church.

TRUMPET: Throughout Europe trumpeters had become a powerful, organized body of musicians employed directly by the king as a symbol of his own importance and also to entertain the court. The tradition of an elite trumpet corps stretches back to the middle Ages. A Symbol of Majesty, Preparedness and Recognition.

TURKEY: See Turkey-Cock.

TURKEYCOCK: The Turkey was tamed by the American Indian cultures in Mexico and taken from Mexico to Europe by Spanish conquistadors early in the 16th century. By 1524, the Turkey is known to have reached England and, by 1558, it was becoming popular at banquets in England and throughout Europe. It is a symbol of festivity, hospitality and resourcefulness. If only the feathers are borne, it is a symbol of pride and of distinction.

TURNIP: The ancient Celts made candle lanterns out of hollowed out turnips, in the days when few households did not have enough glass-sided metal lamps to provide one for each of the family members to carry. Older children and young adults carried these lanterns (fastened to wooden staves) out into the night to light the path from the local graveyards to the dwellings, so that the departed souls did not lose their way in the darkness; symbol of remembrance.

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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 Gold’s own sources. The Heraldry Symbolism Library is provided as a free resource tool for Heraldry enthusiasts. Reproduction in any form is prohibited.