By Mario de Valdes y Cocom
SIGILLUM SECRETUM (Secret Seal) On the image of the Blackamoor in European Heraldry
(a preliminary proposal for an iconographical study)
by Mario de Valdes y Cocom
Considering the deep roots of Christianity in the cultural experience of the African American community, it is only natural that even in the most cursory of discussions on Black history, the hope always is raised of discovering Christ as a man of colour. Moreover, in this global village of television and transatlantic travel, the standard Euro-centric portrayal of Christ is both anomalous and anachronistic, particularly in these racially sensitized times. It might therefore prove a great source of spiritual strength and psychological affirmation for those of us of African descent if a relatively unknown and forgotten medieval European tradition regarding the image of the black was reconstructed for all to see and share. What I am referring to are the coat of arms of the blackamoor which proliferated in both the private and civic European escutcheons (coat of arms) throughout the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries. Read this fascinating history here.