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Step into the world of Lions & Tigers – not on playing fields but on shields
Get to know more about Malta's heraldry with Heritage Malta’s latest Masterclass.

GuideMeMalta

Have you ever wondered why a lion on a coat of arms may be shown standing on all fours at times, and with only one paw firmly on the ground at others, or why some shields are angled and others oval-shaped?

Whether you place yourself amongst the curious folk who ask these questions or amongst those who never even guessed that these nitty-gritty details could ever mean something, you are in for a treat.

Heritage Malta is inviting you to explore the spectacular world of colour, symbols, and fantastical beasts of heraldry in Malta in a virtual Masterclass, which will be streamed live on the coming 4th of May.

heraldry

Maltese heraldry: a history lesson

Although humble in size, the Maltese Islands are a fountain of heraldic material. With the creation of the first coats of arms for the local Santa Sofia family way back at the end of the 13th century, coats of arms have, throughout the centuries, become entwined with Maltese culture.

As the idiom goes, the devil is in the detail. And indeed, you may be surprised that each element in the fascinating array of local coats of arms has a wealth of stories eagerly waiting to be unravelled.

heraldry

Interesting stories surrounding Maltese heraldry

Some of these stories verge on the plainly legendary, such as the Barbaro family’s narrative as to why their coat of arms contains a red annulet. A member of that family, the Venetian Marco Barbaro is said to have cut off a moor’s arm during a battle and used the stump to imprint a white sheet with a battle flag and rally his troops.

Thus, although some charges - the symbols and images displayed on the shield which is the main part of a coat of arms - may sometimes be used to display broad values or concepts such as those of nobility, strength, or courage, in other cases, the charges have a specific significance to the individual or family concerned.

Such is the case with the couple of squares seen on the arms of the Marquises of Għajn Qajjed. These seemingly unimportant shapes, in fact, represent the deep affiliation of one of this noble family’s ancestors with freemasonry during Grandmaster De Rohan’s rule.

HM

Andrea Sacco Baldacchino

Another such example is the coat of arms of the local noble family Ciantar Paleologo, which descends from the Paleologo family of ancient Byzantium. This family’s arms use distinctively Byzantine charges, including the double-headed eagle, highlighting the family’s Imperial past. Interestingly, a very well-known descendant of this ancient family was no other than the former Prime Minister of Malta, Ġorġ Borg Olivier.

Learn more about these intriguing aspects of Maltese society and its rich heraldic history in a unique masterclass. Malta's Chief Herald himself, Dr. Charles Gauci, will be leading this online live stream. The masterclass is approximately 45 minutes long and in English.

2nd May 2021



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