Bend (heraldry)

Bend (heraldry)

In heraldry, a bend is a coloured band running from the upper right corner of the shield to the lower left (from the point of view of a person bearing the shield). Writers differ in how much of the field they say it covers, ranging from one-fifth (if shown between other charges) up to one-third (if charged itself). Although the theory that the bend may occupy one-third of the field is sometimes said to exclude the possibility of two or three bends being specified to be shown together on a shield, there are contrary examples.

A bend can be modified by most of the lines of partition — like the engrailed bend in the coat of Cleethorpes Borough Council, England, and the wavy bend in the coat of Picard, Canada.

A bend sinister is a bend which runs in the other direction to a bend. As the shield would have been carried with the design facing outwards from the bearer, the bend sinister would slant in the same direction a sash worn diagonally on the left shoulder; sinister coming from the Latin and meaning left — to be seen in the coat of Lincolnshire County Council, England, and The Corporation of the Township of McNab/Braeside, Canada. In French heraldry, the bend sinister is traditionally used as a cadency indicating bastardy.[citation needed]

The diminutives (the names of narrower versions) of the bend are (in descending order)

One-half as wide as a bend, as in the coat of Vincent Leonard Knight, and in the coat of Manchester City Council, England.
One-fourth the width of a bend; it appears only in pairs, usually one on either side of a bend, in which case the bend is said to be cotised as in the coats of John Stewart Archibald LeForte, and Hyndburn Borough Council, England; also called a cost as in the coat of Abernethie of Auchincloich (Or, a lion rampant gules surmounted of a cost sable, all within a bordure engrailed azure — first and fourth quarters) (Public Register volume 1, page 69); and also called a riband or ribbon (also one-fourth), as in the coat of Douglas of Douglas (Or, a lion rampant gules surmounted by a ribbon in bend sable — 2nd quarter for Abernethy) (Public Register volume 1, pages143, 231).

Note, these width ratios are approximate and should be taken with large pinches of salt.

A bendlet couped is also known as a baton,[1] as in the coat of Elliot of Stobs (Public Register volume 1, page 144).

The diminutive of the bend sinister (in England) is sometimes called a scarp or scarf, as in the coat of Russ Wayne Copping.

The phrase in bend refers to the appearance of several items on the shield being lined up in the direction of a bend, as in the coat of Gilbert Rioux. But it is also used when something is slanted in the direction of a bend, as in the coat of Surrey County Council, England.

A charge bendwise or bendways is slanted like a bend, as in the Canadian coat of Barry Lereng Wilmont. When a charge is placed on a bend, by default it is shown bendways, as in the coat of Wilmslow Urban District Council, England.

A shield party per bend (or simply per bend) is divided into two parts by a single line which runs in the direction of a bend, as in the coat of Michael George Levy. Applies not only to the fields of shields but also to charges.

Arms of the first house of Burgundy: Bendy or and azure, a bordure gules

Bendy is a variation of the field consisting (usually) of an even number of parts,[1] most often six; as in the coat of the duchy of Burgundy.

Analogous terms are derived from the bend sinister: per bend sinister, bendwise sinister, bendy sinister.




In current sovereign flags

Further reading


  1. ^ a b c Boutell, Charles (1914). Fox-Davies, A.C.. ed. Handbook to English Heraldry, The (11th Edition ed.). London: Reeves & Turner. pp. 58–59. 

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