Alphyn

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  • #0132
  • Medieval Medieval (culture)
  • Heraldic Heraldic (attribute)
  • Neutral Neutral (behaviour)

Alphyn is a wolf/ tiger-looking beast that is stockier than the normal tiger and has a knot in its tail with tufts of hair over parts of its body. Some have clawed feet while other Alphyns have clove feet like goats. Also the forearms are either that of a Dragon, eagle or a goat. The Alphyn is usually white in colour and has red claws with a red pointed tongue. Sometimes the Alphyn had Dragon scales on its chest and belly but other designs show its as a normal hairy wolf/ tiger chest and belly. The name Alphyn comes from the old Germanic word meaning ‘chaser’ or ‘wolf’. The Alhpyn was displayed on war banners as a sign of strength and fierceness. The first appearance of the Alphyn was seen on the badges and shields of Lord de Warr but how he came to know of it remains a mystery.

The Alphyn feature mainly in heraldic designs but has also been used as a chess piece to replace the Bishop figure. This was due to the fact that the Alphyn also symbolised judgement. William Caxton in Game of Playe of the Chesse (1474) stated

“The Alphyns ought to be made and formed in manere of Juges syttynge in a chayer wyth a book open to fore their eyen.”

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