The following was prepared from the classic heraldic reference Herbarz Polski (by Kasper Niesiecki, S. J., Lipsk [Leipzig] edition, 1839-1846), Volume 6, pp. 15-16, by Leonard J. Suligowski, 218A North Henry, Brooklyn, NY 11222-3608. For each coat of arms the blazon or verbal description of the arms below is first given in the authentic heraldic style, followed by a translation from the Polish description by Niesiecki. The right and left sides of a shield are identified from the standpoint of the bearer, i. e., the one holding the shield. His right would be your left and vice versa. The tinctures (colors) in heraldry are as follows: azure = blue; gules = red; sable = black; or = gold; argent = silver; vert = green. In heraldry all charges (pictures) on a shield are assumed to be facing dexter (right side) unless otherwise specified In Polish heraldry all animals or birds are assumed to be in their natural coloring unless otherwise specified.
Arms: Gules, two Coulter blades addorsed in pale points to chief, Argent. For a crest: Out of a crest coronet, three ostrich plumes proper.
There are supposed to be two plowshares standing side by side, with the points upward and the sharp ends of the blade facing each other, on a red shield. On the helmet there are three white ostrich feathers. Thus it was described by the author Bielski in his work, page 184; by Paprocki in Gniazdo cnoty [Nest of virtue], page 402 and in O herbach [Of clan shields], pg. 263; and by Okolski in his book, Vol. 2, page 39, and in Klejnoty [Crests], page 36.
None of these authors found anything certain about when and why this coat of arms was conferred. Parisius in his manuscript infers that it got the name from Larissa, a city in Thessaly, before the birth of Christ. At that time the Sarmatians called the Mesians invaded Italy from the town of Larissa in Thessaly, and captured many people as the spoils of war. Soon they were settled in Sarmatia, which had been little used previously because no one there knew how to farm the land, which turned out to be fertile. This seems to be somewhat corroborated by Ovid, book 3, Tristium Elegia 10, where he says of Sarmatia's lack of fertility at that time, "Aspiceres nudos, sine fronde, sine arbore campos etc. " [One sees fields bare of foliage or trees"]. This was the main reason for its fertility, and thus the plowshares appear in the coat of arms.
He also reports that the coat of arms was conferred at a time when the Sarmatians, irritated by the Romans' frequent raids, attacked Italy and captured several cities, leveling them, then plowing the land and sowing it with salt. The discoverers of this method received as an award a coat of arms with plowshares arranged as you see here. At least, that is the conjecture Parisius made regarding the origin of this coat of arms.
Paprocki cites two opinions regarding the origin of these arms. First, when Piast had been elevated to the throne, he honored his mothers' relatives with this shield; Tylkowski In dedicat. attests to this, but Okolski thinks otherwise. Secondly, when Jaromir, the true prince of Bohemia, was fleeing from his brother Wratyslaw, he came to Boleslaw the Brave, King of Poland. Wratyslaw, not content with having driven his brother from Bohemia, took his army and pursued his brother into Poland. As Boleslaw was leading an expedition against Wratyslaw, along the way he encountered a man who was carrying two plowshares to the blacksmith to be repaired. The King started talking to this man and learned that the man knew all the trails in the forest and promised to guide the King through it. The man proved to be instrumental in the King's victory, for he crept into the Bohemian camp before dawn. Finding the enemy asleep, he took away all their horses, after which Boleslaw attacked and easily conquered the horseless and still sleepy Bohemians. The King therefore allowed Laryssa, as the progenitor of this clan was supposedly named, to bear on his shield the plowshares he had been carrying.
Paprocki cites count Jankal Laryssa in his charters of 1264, as well as count Choschanus Larysza, cupbearer of Kalisz, in the same year. Paprocki also cites an anonymous source, reporting that under them, Jews received great privileges from this Duke.
Families with these Arms
Copyright © 2001 Leonard J. Suligowski. Used by permission. This article originally appeared in White Eagle (Fall/Winter 2001), the journal of the Polish Nobility Association Foundation.