Montag, 4. August 2014

What does the Eymann crest show?

This is the Eymann family's heraldic shield / crest (not to be mistaken as a sign of nobility, probably dates from around 1880). In the late 19th century, the romantic age and the nationalistic movement led even peasant and citizen families to creating their own coat of arms. This development is mirrored in the Eymann heraldry, as there was no visualization of the name before.

The shield is a graphic representation of the name "Ey-mann". "Ey" denotes in a certain German dialect, Bernese Swiss German, a meadow by a river that is frequently flooded (today's German would read "Au". In English language, the "is-" in isle or island has the same linguistic root). Until today, those meadows who lie directly at the river banks and which are flooded during high water seasons are denoted as "Ey" in swiss maps. Which is what you see in the crest. If you happened to possess this meadow as a farmer, then you became in 1530, when lastnames where introduced, the "Ey-man" to distinguish your family from the other families in your village. The shield shows the river as a blue ribbon flowing through the middle, and three so-called heraldic roses which stand for the meadows or any vegetation.

The blue stripe (called a “chevron”) is a stylized symbol for a river, which flows through a bend. The roses are heraldic, meaning that they are not really roses, but also stylized symbols for any plants, e.g. grass. So what you see in the crest is a bird's eye view of a river, flowing through meadows. Which explains the name in a visual way.

This kind of crest, which is constructed out of several heraldic modules, is very difficult to date. It is no clear when it was invented and what the reason for its existence is. The Eymann family have been poor farmers for most of the centuries, and a crest was mainly used by noble families (where it was necessary to mark their possessions even for the illiterate).

For a general introduction on heraldry and the usual elements, please read

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