One of the first questions new Heralds and Artists ask me is, why does every animal look off to the left? Why is this direction the default position?
The answer comes from Heraldry’s Original Purpose: to distinguish a noble and their followers from everyone else on the battlefield. Heraldry is literally the oldest form of Identifying Friend or Foe, and Heraldic Displays were created for shields on the battlefield.
This Viking Shieldmaiden displays my registered heraldry, Azure, a winged ounce within an orle argent. The shield is on her left arm, with the axe in her right hand. The fierce
Ounce Lioness looks like it is ready to jump off of the shield and attack!
I joined the Society as a fencer because I wanted to learn to fence just like Tamora Pierce‘s Lady Knight Alanna the Lioness. As a fencer, I fought with my right hand.
About six months into the Society, I discovered I preferred Heavy List combat to Fencing. As I studied Heavy, I realized I am a much stronger fighter with my left hand than my right. So I re-strapped my shield to be worn on my right arm.
As you can see, a left-looking Lioness is not fierce when wielded in the opposite hand. The Lioness looks like she is going to fart in your general direction.
Here is my repainted left-handed shield, with my Lioness facing to Sinister and fiercely threatening my opponents. Yes, the Sinister Lioness looks right. The default position, called Dexter, features a feline looking left.
The Heralds don’t care if your beasts face Dexter or Sinister. If a device is in conflict, making the beast face Sinister gives one Distinct Change of difference.