Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Creature Feature: Heraldic Antelope

Antelope sounds pretty mundane, right? You're probably wondering what it's doing in a collection of imaginary creatures. See, there's the real antelope, and then there's the heraldic antelope--an entirely different proposition. In heraldry, an antelope has the body and feet of a deer, the head of a heraldic tyger (more on that later), a long flexible tail, tufted hair on its back, tusks like a boar, and a pair of serrated horns like saw blades. According to medieval accounts, the antelope was a vicious and cruel creature, who used its sharp horns to cut down trees. It has a lot of features in common with both unicorns and tygers, but symbolically it was a warning against being a bad person like the antelope was a bad animal. They're often used as supporters for full coats of arms.

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