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Tyger (heraldry)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A tyger, from The Complete Guide to Heraldry

Tyger, also known as heraldic tiger or tygre, is an imaginary beast used as a charge in heraldry.

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To distinguish it from the naturally existing tiger, which also occurs in heraldry, the latter is usually blazoned as a "Bengal tiger".[1]


The tyger's body is like that of the real tiger, but lacks stripes. It has the tufted tail of a lion and a thick mane along the neck like a horse. It has large jaws and a pointed or even horned snout, and its head bears little resemblance to that of any real animal except, distantly, the wolf's.[1] A tyger proper was in medieval times said to be speckled, later red.[citation needed]


As real tigers were unknown to early British heraldists, depictions of this creature were drawn from artists' ideas of this creature that they knew only through secondhand accounts. Consequently, although it originated as an attempt to depict a real creature, the heraldic tyger eventually became highly distinct from the original animal.[1] When real tigers became better known to Europeans, notably through the colonization of India, they began to be depicted in heraldry alongside the traditional heraldic tyger.


It is supposed to have its home in Hyrcania in Persia and its swiftness is supposed to have given its name to "tygris", the Persian word for "arrow", and to the swift River Tigris.

If pursued by a tyger, it was supposed to be possible to get away from it by leaving a mirror, which would perplex the tyger, or entrance it in admiration of its own beauty.[2] As a result, tygers are sometimes depicted looking in a mirror.[3]

See also


  1. ^ a b c Fox-Davies, Arthur (1909). A Complete Guide to Heraldry. London: T.C. and E.C. Jack. pp. 191–192.
  2. ^ Franklyn, Julian (1961). Shield & Crest: An account of the art and science of heraldry. London: MacGibbon & Kee. p. 145.
  3. ^ Friar, Stephen, ed. (1987). A New Dictionary of Heraldry. London: Alphabooks/A&C Black. p. 103. ISBN 0906670446.
This page was last edited on 23 January 2024, at 23:04
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