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The terms "blason", "blasonner", "blasonneur" were used in 16th century French literature by poets who, following Clement Marot in 1536, practised a genre of poems that praised a woman by singling out different parts of her body and finding appropriate metaphors to compare them with. It is still being used with that meaning in literature and especially in poetry.

The blason was first described and defined by Thomas Sébillet as a "perpetual praise or continuous vituperation of its subject." (« une perpétuelle louange ou continu vitupère de ce qu'on s'est proposé blasonner ») (Art poétique français, 1548)

In the 16th century, there were seven editions of the blasons anatomiques between 1536 and 1572, the first editions were appended to the French translation of Leone Battista Alberti's Hecatomphile, after 1543, they were published independently, along with the contreblasons.

The genre reunites the eulogy for praise, and the satire (called contreblason) for vilification of a being or an object. Most commonly, the object of the poem is the female body, or a part thereof, which has led many 21st century critics to consider the blason the first instance of fetishism in literature. The figurative "dismemberment" have led others to condemn the blason as antifeminist.

The genre was revived in the twentieth century, when it was taken up by Paul Éluard (« Blason des fleurs et des fruits »), Georges Brassens (« Le Blason ») and André Breton (« Clair de terre »).



Blason originally comes from a heraldic term in French heraldry and means either the codified description of a coat of arms or the coat of arms itself.

In the English language

One famous example of such a poem outside of France, is William Shakespeare's Sonnet 130.

Blasons and counterblasons also occur in Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queen. The counter-blason is used to describe Duessa. She is not objectified, but instead all of her flaws are highlighted.

A further example of the counterblason is Sir Philip Sidney's counter-blason of the bucolic Mopsa in the Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia.

Blason populaire


Blason populaire is a phrase in which one culture or ethnic group increases its own self-esteem by belittling others eg. Samuel Johnson's description that "The noblest prospect which a Scotsman ever sees, is the high road that leads him to England!" The term originated from Alfred Canel's travelogue Blason Populaire de la Normandie (1859), in which people from Normandy boasted about themselves while sneering at other regions.

Petite anthologie du blason et du contre-blason

Petite anthologie du blason et du contre-blason [1]


See also

blazon, Blason and contreblason du couillon, French poetry, 16th century literature

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Blason" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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