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Dictionary of Vexillology: C (Cottice - Cowed)

Last modified: 2022-08-27 by rob raeside
Keywords: vexillological terms |
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A heraldic term for a narrow band, stripe or bendlet (or two or more) on either side of a charge, but separated from it by a narrow strip (or strips) of field - usually only applied to a bend, but sometimes also to fess, pale, and chevron.
See also ‘cotticed 1)’ below).

[example] [example]

1) On flags, a term that may be used to describe the addition of one or more narrow stripes or bands to an existing charge (such as a stripe or cross) but which is separated from that charge by a strip of field - but see note below.
2) The alternative heraldic terms used when one (or two or more) narrow band(s), stripe(s) or bendlet(s) appear on either side of a charge, but separated from it by a narrow strip of field – cotised or cotized – see ‘cottice(s)’ plus notes b) and c) below.

Svitavy Okres, Czechia Naval ensign - Ukraine Koblenzer Rowing Club, Germany
Flag of Bělá u Jevíčka, Czechia (fotw); Naval Ensign of Ukraine (fotw); Flag of Koblenzer Rowing Club, Germany (fotw)

a) With regard to 1), where the field is not shown between the charge and the cottice (as illustrated below) it should be described as double or triple fimbriated as appropriate (see also ‘fimbriation 1)’).
b) Regarding 2), these terms are usually only applied to a bend, but sometimes also to a fess, pale or chevron, and in addition
c) have a rather more restricted/complex use than has been briefly described above, it is therefore suggested that a suitable glossary or dictionary of heraldry should be consulted for further details.

War ensign of Germany 1938-45
War Ensign of Germany 1938 – 1945 (fotw)

The alternative heraldic terms used to describe two or more narrow bands or stripes on either side of a charge as for cost - usually only applied to a bend but also sometimes to other charges (see cost/cottice).


The heraldic term used when an animal is depicted as lying down, with its head generally facing towards the dexter - sejant.

couchant example couchant example couchant example 
Flag of Polzela, Slovenia (fotw); Flag of Uherský Brod, Czechia (fotw); Flag of Rødøy, Norway (fotw)

The heraldic prefix used when two charges on a shield, banner of arms or flag are turned in contrary directions as in “fleuri-counterfleuri” (see ‘double-tressure fleury counter fleury’), or when two tinctures are reversed either side of a line or lines drawn through a coat of arms see ‘counterchanged’ (also ‘counterchanged cross’ and ‘counter-compony’).

An abbreviation of the heraldic term compony counter-compony used when an ordinary or border is composed of two rows of squares (or occasionally rectangles) in alternating tinctures – see ‘counter-’ above and ‘compony’ (also ‘checky 1)’, ‘checky 2)’, ‘counterchanged’ below, ‘ordinary’ and ‘tincture’).

Niemcza, Poland Calfreisen, Switzerland Calfreisen, Switzerland
Flag of Niemcza, Poland (fotw); Arms and Flag of Calfreisen, Switzerland (Wikipedia & fotw)

(adj) A heraldic term used to describe two colours alternating either side of a line or lines drawn through a flag or coat of arms or charge – counter-changed or parti-coloured (see also ‘charge’, ‘coat of arms 2)’ ‘counter-’, ’counterchanged cross’, ‘counter-compony’ above and ‘faceted’).

[Greenland] [counterchanged] [Tas-Sliema, Malta]
Flag of Greenland (fotw); Flag of Trey, Switzerland (fotw); Flag of Tas-Sliema, Malta (fotw)

In heraldry see ‘cross counterchanged’.

dominican cross
Putative Banner of the Dominicans (fotw)

See ‘civic arms 2)’.

[county arms] [county arms]
Arms of the County of Kent, UK (fotw); Arms of the County of Somerset, UK (fotw)

See ‘sub-national flag’ (also ‘civic flag 2)’.

[Wayne county flag] [Essex county flag]
Flag of Wayne County, Michigan, US (fotw); Flag of the /county of Essex, UK (fotw)

The alternative French heraldic terms for the base of a shield, banner of arms or a flag that is composed of semi-circular mounds, and is intended to represent (usually) three (but up to six) hills – a coupeau of two, three, four, five or six, mount of coupeau, doublemount or threemount - see ‘compartment’ (also ‘mount’).

coupeau coupeau coupeau
Flag of Kachkanar, Russia (fotw); Flag of Ludbreg, Croatia (fotw); Flag of Sigdal, Norway (fotw)

See ‘coupeau’ above.

coupeau of three coupeau of three coupeau of three
Flag of Oberrohrdorf, Switzerland (fotw); Flag of Villarbeney, Switzerland (fotw); Flag of Courtételle, Switzerland (fotw)

1) The heraldic terms used when a charge is cut off in a straight line as is often the case with the heads and limbs of animals but see 2) below (also 'erased').
2) Heraldic terms that are also used when an ordinary or charge does not extend to the edges of a shield or banner of arms, for example a cross-couped or cross coupée.

Northern Ireland Andwil, Switzerland IFRCRC
Unofficial Flag of Northern Ireland (fotw); Flag of Andwil, Switzerland (fotw); Flag of the ICRC (fotw)

Alternative heraldic terms used to describe an animal running at full speed – current or cursant.

courant example courant example courant example
Flag and Arms of Pinelo, Portugal (fotw); Flag of Požega-Slavonia, Croatia (fotw)

That flag (normally, but not exclusively, the national flag of the country being visited) flown from a prominent position on a merchant vessel as a matter of courtesy when visiting a foreign port – a complimentary flag (see also ‘yardarm’).

1) The term used when a canton, charge or emblem obscures the entire width of a stripe or stripes on a multi-striped flag, and in the case of a canton usually (but not invariably) at the hoist – encroaching upon (see also ‘canton 2)’, ‘multi-stripe’ and ‘overall 1)’ and ‘partially covering’). 
2) A term that is also used when an emblem or charge occupies the entire width within a stripe (see also ‘stripe(s)’ and ‘width 2)’). 

Goiás, Brazil Togo Teror, Canaries
Flag of Goiás, Brazil (fotw); National Flag of Togo (fotw); Flag of Teror, Spain (fotw)

An example of 1) would be a square or rectangular canton covering the first three stripes, as illustrated above, also:
b) Under these circumstances the term is never used alone but always with the number of stripes being covered.

The heraldic terms used when an animal is shown with its tail between the hind legs – couard – but see the note below (also ‘double queued’ and ‘queued’).

[coward] [coward] [coward]
Flag and Arms of Paršovice, Czechia (fotw); Flag of Leuk, Switzerland (fotw)

Please note that in English heraldry the display of an animal (particularly a lion) with its tail between its legs can be a symbol of cowardice or dishonour – see ‘abatements’.

Lion coward/couard denoting cowardice or dishonour (Wikipedia)

An alternative heraldic tern to queued - see ‘queued’.

Flag of Schleiden, Germany (fotw)

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