The Art of Darkness

Design Your Middle-Earth Heraldic Device

June 19th, 2014 by Cobwebs

Herald of LuthienAs someone whose relationship with Tolkien tends to be on the casual side* it’s easy to forget just how rich and detailed his mythology and history actually are. Then I discover that not only did Tolkien create heraldic devices for many of his characters, he even laid out the rules (formulated by “the Elves”) for designing new ones.

The Council of Elrond discusses how to design a woman’s device, with the main points being:

  • It must be circular
  • The background is generally black
  • It usually contains a flower which has special significance to the bearer
  • There can be a mark which identifies the bearer’s family (such as a detail from the family coat of arms)
  • The number of points touching the edge of the field relates to the bearer’s rank

The Tolkiens√§llskapet Forodrim site has a detailed article on Middle-Earth emblems and heraldry; the rules for men don’t seem to be quite as cut-and-dried as for women, other than that it should be lozenge-shaped and you need to pay attention to the number of points touching the edge. There are additional examples at the Tolkien Gateway wiki, and you can also look at sites devoted to “real” heraldry for ideas on color choices, placement of charges, and so on.

If you can draw or have access to a computer graphics program, this would be an interesting way to create your own unique “brand.” Once you have a design you like, it could be used as a pattern for all sorts of craft projects: Quilts, wall hangings, cross-stitch, personalized stationery, painted fabric, and lots more. (And, obviously, if you’re into LOTR cosplay, embroider the design on a cloak or paint it on your shield.)

Couple of bonus links from the Council of Elrond site: Planning the Middle-earth Wedding and Gardens of Middle-earth, which has a bunch of theme garden ideas (including one representing Mordor).

*Saruman and Sauron should have had less-similar names. The Two Towers could have been replaced with a pamphlet saying, “They rode and rode and rode and rode….” The Silmarillion is a loooooong way across. That sort of casual.

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