Lady Dominique Von Weißenthurn
What is heraldry?
Heraldry is the use of brightly colored, bold images to identify oneself. Heraldry was initially developed in the form of images painted on the shield and other battle accoutrements for identification in armored combat. It came to be used for genealogical purposes once a system of recording these images (in the form of drawings or emblazons and in the form of descriptive texts called blazons) on paper was developed. Since heraldry was first developed as images painted on the shield, often repeated in the crest (a 3-dimensional object, often carved from wood, mounted atop the helmet) and reflected in the colors of the surcoat, heraldry on paper has always retained these forms, namely the main image being drawn on a shield shape (or escutcheon, from the Latin word scutum, "shield"), and surmounted by the colored mantling, helmet and crest.
In British heraldry, from the Victorian era onwards it became acceptable – even fashionable – to display one's helmet and crest – or the crest alone – without the shield, giving rise to the misleading term "family crest". In fact, arms are only narrowly heritable in British heraldry and only through a complex system of cadency. In German and Scandinavian heraldry, many coats of arms have multiple helmets (each with its own crest) associated with a single shield, and the helmets are always considered inseparable from the shield. In the SCA, however, only the shield of arms is registered, and other heraldic elements (such as supporters, motto, helmet, crest, etc.) are not used.