Heraldry in Westarctica
Heraldry in Westarctica is the application of the traditions of personal arms in the culture of Westarctica, to include its titles, orders, and other honorifics.
Origins and Early History
Westarctican heraldry has existed in one form or another almost as long as the nation itself. In the early days, the influences of the art pulled almost entirely from British heraldry, as that is the system the Westarctican Peerage most closely resembles. There was no explicit requirement to follow these traditions, and individuals were free to incorporate aspects of other heraldic traditions into their arms. Aside from the use of orcas as supporters in the Lesser Coat of Arms, there was really nothing that established Westarctica as a unique heraldic tradition.
During these early years, Grand Duke Travis appointed the first Ellsworth King of Arms, Michael Richards. While the role of Chief Herald typically includes design and registration of the personal or official arms of citizens, Richards actually created very few coats of arms as part of his official duties. His primary responsibilities were the creation of the letters patent for Peerage titles. In late 2018, Richards assisted Jordan Farmer with finalizing the design of the regalia for the Illustrious Antarctic Order of the Orca (commonly referred to as the Order of the Orca). During his tenure as Ellsworth King of Arms, Richards was made a Knight Commander in the Order of the Snowflake. In 2019, Richards began having more and more difficulty keeping up with the role and was dismissed from the role in the latter part of that year.
Efforts to Build Unique Culture of Heraldry
With the dismissal of the first Ellsworth King of Arms, Grand Duke Travis reassigned the creation of letters patent to Baron Kirby of Bastanchury as part of his responsibilities as the Minister of Commerce. This change allowed the Grand Duke to focus on finding a replacement who could work primarily on creating arms for Government agencies and members of the Peerage.
The second King of Arms named was Baron Daniel of Abele, who currently serves in the role. Some of the earliest work done by Baron Daniel was to begin working with Peers and members of Government to establish uniquely Westarctican heraldic traditions. Additionally, preparations began for the creation of a Westarctican College of Arms, which would serve as the heraldic authority for the nation. This eventual establishment will oversee the creation and registration of arms. In addition, it will serve as an online repository that catalogs the growing heraldic culture and helps to chronicle the unique Westarctican traditions as they evolve.
One of the first changes made to Westarctican heraldry was to change the color of the felt on crown devices for members of the peerage from red to blue. As the entire crown was taken from British heraldry, the change to blue differentiated it and created devices that were uniquely Westarctican. Shortly thereafter, Heraldic devices for two of Westarctica's Orders were approved for use on personal arms. Members of the Order of the Orca would be eligible to add an encircling device around the escutcheon or lozenge of their arms, while members of the Noble Order of Westarctica would be permitted to add blue sashes to their supporters.
Guidelines for Westarctican Heraldry
As Westarctican tradition is forming, there are very few firm rules outside of the fact that the Sovereign or their designated representative must approve all arms prior to registry. Instead there are a set of general guidelines that are often observed, but may possess glaring exceptions. For example:
- Entitlement to arms is given to all members of the Peerage, as well as members of Westarctican orders. While any Westarctican without such an entitlement may request arms, or the registration of independently created arms, the approval of such requests will be made on a case-by-case basis. This may require amendments to components prior to approval. Anyone submitting arms (or components of arms) who is not entitled to them may be denied registry.
- The "Rule of Tincture" is a guideline codified by some registries, and dates back centuries. This observance suggests that colors should not be placed upon colors, metals not upon other metals, etc. This guidance is not considered binding in the Westarctican tradition, and there are examples of arms that both observe and disregard it. It is commonly regarded that observance of the Rule of Tincture leads to more aesthetically appealing coats of arms.
- The use of helms is largely up to personal preference. While the unwritten English rules of which helms are appropriate for which persons is frequently observed, there are no specific rules governing the use or style in Westarctican arms.
- Supporters are a commonly used element. Only those named to the Peerage ranks Prince(ess), Duke/Duchess, Count(ess), or Marquis(e) are entitled to have them. Likewise, Dames/Knights of the Orca and Westarctica are entitled to them, as an achievement, regardless of rank. There other positions that may be entitled to the use of supporters. The roles and guidelines governing which are up to the Sovereign
- Crests are the objects placed on top of the helm. The Rule of Tincture has never applied to them or to supporters. Sometimes the crest relates thematically to other parts of the coat of arms and sometimes it does not.
- Mantling is a flourishing optional, but commonly used touch that extends from any helm on the arms and is not codified into the emblazonment, with only incredibly rare exceptions. Traditional mantling will utilize the most prominent metal and color found in the arms proper (escutcheon/lozenge), but cases of the two most common colors have been observed.
Unique Elements of Westarctican Heraldry
While in its infancy, there have been a number of elements identified or created for use in Westarctican heraldry. These include:
Specific Devices and Achievements
These have been developed for use by individuals who meet specific criteria. There are fairly specific guidelines for the design and display of these elements.
- Arms Device for Knights and Dames of the Orca: awarded to members of the Illustrious Antarctic Order of the Orca.
- Sashes for Supporters of Order of Westarctica Members: awarded to members of the Noble Order of Westarctica.
- Westarctican Coronets: used to distinguish members of the Peerage of Westarctica. As the Westarctican system was modeled largely off of the English one, that nation's coronets have had the felt recolored blue.
These components may be used by any Westarctican who has been granted arms, or is assuming them. There is much more freedom with the design and display of these elements. Listed are some of the components and meanings unique to Westarctican heraldry. Elements from other heraldic customs are welcomed and frequently utilized in Westarctican arms, as well.
- Adelie penguin - Inquisitive, spirited, or quick to action.
- Brown skua - Seizing opportunity, or ambition.
- Chinstrap penguin - Public speaking, concerned with the greater good, or an LGBT+ identity.
- Iceberg - (on the shield/lozenge) Steadfastness, or patience. (as the compartment) Service to the Grand Duchy, or dedication to Westarctican ideals.
- King or Emperor penguin - Family, constitution, or dedication.
- Kraken - Military combat service.
- Krill - Of modest origins.
- Masted ship - (on the shield/lozenge) Seafarer, exploration. (when used on the crest) Denotes naval service.
- Midge – Adaptability.
- Orca - Ferocity when provoked, or community.
- Pelican – (on the shield/lozenge) Familial relation to House McHenry. (when used on the crest) Used to symbolize dedication to the throne, or status as a monarchist.
- Penguin (non-descript) - (on the shield/lozenge) Westarctica in general, or ties to cold climates. (It should be noted that, while not forbidden, using a non-descript penguin as a supporter is considered inappropriate in the Westarctican custom.)
- Sea lion - Courage, or amicability.
- Snow petrel – A family first ideology, or having been to the South Pole.
- Snowflake - (on the shield/lozenge) Love of the cold, membership as part of the "Old Guard," or dedication to Westarctican ideals. (as the crest) Having visited Westarctica proper.
- Whale (Blue or Humpback) - Conservational pursuits.
- Whale (non-descript)- (on the shield/lozenge) Gentle disposition, or love of the sea. (It should be noted that, while not forbidden, using a non-descript whale as a supporter is considered inappropriate in the Westarctican custom.)