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Although a shield may consist of a single charge upon a single color field, often the field is partitioned (i.e., divided) into two or more colors. A partitioned shield is blazoned as parted per the partition type (illustrated below). The colors of the sections are blazoned immediately after, starting with the upper and/or leftmost color. For example, a shield which was divided horizontally into an green upper section and a gold lower section would be:

parted per fess vert and or.

These partitions have a basic relationship with ordinaries, a type of charge often found in heraldry. A horizontal division of a field is parted per fess, while a horizontal band of blue on a background of silver is azure a fess argent.

A third variation of these basic divisions of the field are the diminutives of partitions. These divisions are smaller versions of the ordinary repeated many times. This type of partition is properly blazoned by including the number of pieces, as is done for the examples below.

A final aspect of partitions which should be mentioned in the combination of partitions. This is when a shield has been divided are in the basic partitions, and then one of those sections has been further subdivided.

A variation of this type of partition is the counterchange. This is the term used to blazon a shield wherein the colors have been inversed across a partition line. For example, a shield which was red on the left half and silver on the right, charged at the center with a five pointed star which was silver on the left half and red on the right, would be blazoned:

gules a mullet argent counterchanged per pale.

All divisions of the field can be made with simple (i.e., strait) lines or with a variety of non-straight lines, which include but are not limited to: engrailed, invecked, embattled, indented, dancetté, wavy, nebuly, raguly, potenté, dovetailed, flory counter-flory, and rayonné (see illustration below).

Basic Partitions

per fess

per pale

per cross or quarterly
per chevron


per bend

per bend sinister

per saltire

per pall

per pall, reversed

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Diminutives of Partitions

of eight
argent and sable

barry nebuly
of six
argent and gules

of six
azure and argent

of eight
argent and gules

chevronelly of six
gules and argent

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Combinations of Partitions

per fess, the upper half per pale azure and gules, the lower half argent per pale, the dexter half argent, the sinister half per fess gules and azure per bend, the dexter half argent, the sinister per bend sinister gules and azure
argent, a pale vert counterchanged per fess

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Variations of Partion Lines




dancetté or dancetty









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Page content last modified
02 October 2000