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An heraldic alphyn

An alphyn (from the Germanic word for "chaser" or "wolf") is a rare heraldic creature. It is much like an heraldic tiger, but is stockier and has tufts of hair covering its body. It also has a thick mane and a long thin tongue. Another notable characteristic is its knotted tail, reminiscent of Celtic design. The tail, shown as a lion's, may relate it to the griffin. Sometimes its forefeet are depicted like an eagle's claws, also comparable it to the griffin, other times they are cloven, as in a goat. Occasionally all four feet are shown like the claws of a lion. In English heraldry, the alphyn was used as a heraldic badge of the Lords de la Warr and in addition to appearing on the guidon held by the knight in the Milleflour Tapestry in Somerset.

In England's first printed book, William Caxton's Game and Playe of the Chesse (First Edition, 1474) the chessmen now known as bishops are described instead as Alphyns, representing judges: "The Alphyns ought to be made and formed in manere of Juges syttynge in a chayer wyth a book open to fore their eyen"

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