By David B. Appleton
Published Online (2008)
Introduction: The scope of this presentation concerns the heraldry the Muslims in the late Middle Ages – that is to say, it concerns the heraldry of the Ayyubid and Mamluk dynasties of Egypt and Syria from roughly the late 12th Century A.D. through the very early 16th Century. It will be limited to clearly delineated heraldic charges. That is to say, “heraldry” consisting of script or calligraphy, names, titles, praise, pious sayings (“There is no victor but God”) or appeals to Allah for blessings on the armiger will not be considered beyond a brief mention here.
The terminology used will be adapted from standard Norman-English heraldic blazon wherever possible. Muslim emblazons generally consisted of the ard (field, or “ground”) divided into three shatfas or shatabs (what might be described as “tierced per fess”), but since in so many of the colored emblazons still extant the chief and base portions are the same tincture, with the central one of a contrasting tincture, it will be a little more comprehensible to blazon them as having a “fess”, even in those cases where the “fess” is the same tincture as the chief or base portion of the field, resulting in a complete lack of contrast.