Arms in South Africa

Heraldry in Africa
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Arthur Radburn
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Re: Arms in South Africa

Postby Arthur Radburn » 12 Sep 2012, 21:43

Ryan Shuflin wrote:do the traditional African rulers use arms of dominion

No. They have not ruled their territories since the 19th century, so their dominion is more of a magisterial nature over their traditional communities. There is no indigenous heraldic tradition, in any case, though many if not all of the communities have animal totems, e.g. the Bafokeng totem is a crocodile.

The King of the Zulus, who is perhaps the most prominent traditional ruler, has a coat of arms which was designed by the Bureau in 1975, but none of the others do. He also flies a royal standard featuring his arms - there's a pic and some discussion here : http://www.crwflags.com/fotw/flags/za-kn.html#gz
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Jonathan Webster
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Re: Arms in South Africa

Postby Jonathan Webster » 13 Sep 2012, 10:27

Does South African heraldry recognise/use bleu celeste as a colour like in English heraldry ?

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Re: Arms in South Africa

Postby Arthur Radburn » 13 Sep 2012, 10:35

Jonathan Webster wrote:Does South African heraldry recognise/use bleu celeste as a colour like in English heraldry ?

Yes, but it's not widely used. It appears in a number of air force unit coats of arms, and in a personal coat of arms which was gazetted a couple of years ago. Whether the armiger is South African, I don't know.
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Re: Arms in South Africa

Postby Jonathan Webster » 16 Sep 2012, 19:38

As regards matriculations, can arms be matriculated in the name of minor cadets of the original armiger, or must the said cadets do so when they reach adulthood?

Also; does the inheritance of arms descend to all children of the original armiger, whether legitimate, illegitimate, or adopted; or are there certain rules about who inherits the arms, or does the original armiger decide this themselves when they register their arms?

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Re: Arms in South Africa

Postby Arthur Radburn » 17 Sep 2012, 10:04

Jonathan Webster wrote:As regards matriculations, can arms be matriculated in the name of minor cadets of the original armiger, or must the said cadets do so when they reach adulthood?

Matriculation is much more flexible than in Scotland. It's entirely voluntary, and the Heraldry Act doesn't stipulate any age threshold. A few of the published records give the child's date of birth, from which we can see that arms have indeed been matriculated for minor children (one of them in the year of his birth, i.e. when he can have been only a few months old).

Also; does the inheritance of arms descend to all children of the original armiger, whether legitimate, illegitimate, or adopted; or are there certain rules about who inherits the arms, or does the original armiger decide this themselves when they register their arms?

I don't know what the position is regarding illegitimate children, but generally arms descend to all children, including those who have been legally adopted. If they are matriculated at the Bureau, the younger children's arms must be differenced.

Section 7 of the Heraldry Act provides for the following :
    * the armiger may arrange for his arms to be re-registered, after his death, "in the name of any of his descendants, or in the name of any other person who bears the same family name";
    * a descendant, including an adopted child bearing the same family name, may apply for re-registration of the arms in his/her name.

I suppose that the phrases "any of his descendants" or "any other person who bears the same family name" could be interpreted to include an illegitimate child.
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Jonathan Webster
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Re: Arms in South Africa

Postby Jonathan Webster » 12 Feb 2013, 21:15

Arthur Radburn wrote:
Jonathan Webster wrote:Is Orange distinct from Tenne as a tincture in South African heraldry?

I don't think so. At one time the Bureau used both words, apparently interchangeably, but since the 1980s it has favoured 'Orange'.

Also; do the current national arms have an official blazon and are they registered with the Bureau of Heraldry? (I am aware the Bureau was bypassed as regards creating them.)

Yes and yes. The arms of the Republic and the provinces qualify for automatic registration, without any further process.

A registration notice for the national arms was published in the Government Gazette at the time. It includes a blazon which the Bureau apparently had to formulate from the artwork which was presented to it as a fait accompli.

Interestingly, the arms are not listed on the database on the National Archives website. As the database lists only arms for which registration certificates have been issued, I suspect that the Bureau did not issue one in this case.

This had happened in the early 1970s, when the Bureau was excluded from the process of designing the arms of some of the African homelands within the Republic. The arms were registered, but the Bureau showed its displeasure by withholding certificates.


Interestingly enough, according to the the database; the Arms originally granted in 1910 by the College of Arms were registered with the Bureau after South Africa had become a Republic.

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Re: Arms in South Africa

Postby Arthur Radburn » 13 Feb 2013, 08:34

Jonathan Webster wrote:Interestingly enough, according to the the database; the Arms originally granted in 1910 by the College of Arms were registered with the Bureau after South Africa had become a Republic.

Yes, they were, but the Bureau wouldn't have had an issue with them, as it did with the 2000 arms, and so no reason to withhold a certificate.

In 1961, the government had asked the Bureau's predecessor, the Heraldry Section of the Department of Education, Arts & Sciences, if the arms needed any alteration because of the change from monarchy to republic. The Heraldry Section had reported that the arms were quite acceptable, as they contained no royal elements.
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Re: Arms in South Africa

Postby Jonathan Webster » 13 Feb 2013, 17:08

Arthur Radburn wrote:
Jonathan Webster wrote:Interestingly enough, according to the the database; the Arms originally granted in 1910 by the College of Arms were registered with the Bureau after South Africa had become a Republic.

Yes, they were, but the Bureau wouldn't have had an issue with them, as it did with the 2000 arms, and so no reason to withhold a certificate.

In 1961, the government had asked the Bureau's predecessor, the Heraldry Section of the Department of Education, Arts & Sciences, if the arms needed any alteration because of the change from monarchy to republic. The Heraldry Section had reported that the arms were quite acceptable, as they contained no royal elements.


I knew the Bureau was bypassed as regards creating the 2000 Arms, but I didn't know they objected to them. What were the reasons?

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Re: Arms in South Africa

Postby Arthur Radburn » 13 Feb 2013, 18:20

Jonathan Webster wrote:I knew the Bureau was bypassed as regards creating the 2000 Arms, but I didn't know they objected to them. What were the reasons?


I don't believe the Bureau and the Heraldry Council ever made a formal statement on the matter but, to judge from discussions on rec.heraldry and comments elsewhere at the time, it appears that they were unhappy that, after spending a lot of time preparing designs for the cabinet to consider, the cabinet rejected all their proposals and went to a commercial design studio instead. They may also not have thought that the device adopted was particularly good heraldry. The State Herald is reported to have told a meeting in February 2000 that if the cabinet adopted arms that, in his opinion, were "not befitting the dignity of the country" he would consider stepping down. He did indeed resign on early pension the day after the new arms were adopted, but agreed to continue on a contract basis until a successor was found.
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Jonathan Webster
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Re: Arms in South Africa

Postby Jonathan Webster » 14 Feb 2013, 22:47

I can appreciate that. Personally, whilst I don't dislike the actual Arms in the 2000 version (although they're not fantastic by any stretch of the imagination), I think the 'stylised' external ornaments rather ruin the overall design and, dare I say it, will date terribly quickly I fear.


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