I am helping a client (I use that term rather loosely, since I only work pro-bono) who would like a "wolfstag" as his crest. He defines this as "the head of a wolf with the antlers of a stag". He got the idea from the Wyomingite jackalope of legend.
While it is always fun to innovate something new into heraldry, I wouldn’t want his arms to come off as a joke. We wouldn’t want people think that his crest was a cartoon, of that his poor wolf had contracted some form of Shope papilloma virus. That said, there is a healthy tradition of fictional animals in heraldry, so a jackalope-style beast might not be such a bad thing.
May I ask the members here gathered for a consensus? Is the jackalope-inspired "wolfstag" a brilliant heraldic innovation, or should I steer him in another direction?
I have always preferred the Wabbitlion myself, but I have no objection to Jackalopes, Bunyips, Drop Bears, Dahus or Haggises
So why not a wolf with antlers.
I think it’s the style in which the creature is illustrated that would determine whether or not it felt cartoonish. I think you could get away with a wolf with antlers.
Behold, pollar bear eagles in Canada:
There’s a strong tradition of incorporating Native American or First Nation creatures of legend in Canadian heraldry. Stylistically, I find it very similar.
When thinking about a crest for myself, I considered adopting Pamola, which is a god/spirit which resides on top of Mt. Katahdin. Pamola is a winged moose.
Just no Man-Bear-Pig’s
Just to show how much fun the medieval imagination could have, something a good deal odder than a wolfstag, the snailstag.
‘Hours of Joanna the Mad’, Bruges 1486-1506 (BL, Add 18852, fol. 305v)
From the FB page of Discarding Inages (NSFW) http://discardingimages.tumblr.com/
If you can have a unicorn on your arms, why not a wolfstag?
Go for it!
Whether the casual observer sees it as creative or a cartoon joke will depend IMO on the quality of the enblazonment, so you might give this a bit more thought than usual in your refrigerator test. Not suggesting you have to hire someone of the caliber of Andrew Jamison or Marco Foppoli (though that would be nice!) but you might not want to go public with a particularly amateurish rendition, even though technically there’s no heraldic difference.
I’ve loved the jackalope since I first saw it (on postcards or stuffed, never in real life sadly) while crossing middle-America on the old Highway 66 every two years in the Fifties—so why not a wolfstag?
I’ve thought more about this since I last posted. I’m all for mythic beasts in heraldry, but it seems to me it should have some kind of basis. In other words, if there were some kind of legend that included such a beast and the legend or beast had a connection to the person in some way, that would be one thing. Let’s say you live in the woods in the Northwest and want a sasquatch, or you live in the Southwest and want a chupacabra, or you are of Olmec ancestry and want a were-jaguar, or you’re a sailor and want a mermaid, or if you were born on an Easter Sunday and want a bunny carrying basket of eggs.
But if the point is only to make a joke (wolfstag) based on another joke (jackalope), then in my mind you’re just being silly. Of course, if you feel that you’re a silly person then that also may be a reason to use a wolfstag (although I can think of sillier things). I obviously don’t know Steven’s client, but if he were mine I’d suggest he really think hard on whether a wolfstag is something that he feels represents who he is or his interests. And if he thinks of himself as a horn-dog, then by all means use a wolfstag.
The jackalope wins on two counts, it can be clearly blazoned and emblazoned, and it is simple. I’d say go for it!
I would suggest blazoning the beast as "a wolf of this colour antlered of that colour", or even as "an antlered wolf of this colour" if the antlers and wold are of the same tincture.
By creating something new and unheard of like a wolfstag, you run the risk of having the creature drawn up incorrectly as the term is not understood or widespread. It could be represented as a wolf with the hind quarters of a stag, as a stag with the hind quarters of a wolf or as an antlered wolf with the hind quarters of a stag. There is no need to invent a term, which will subsequently require a description of what that term actually means, when heraldry already provides a means to blazon and describe the thing from the start.