Lamb in eagle’s claws on the coats of arms of ancient Armenian families

The “Lamb in Eagle’s Claws” is a symbolic element present in the coat of arms of many Armenian noble families, including the Mamikonians, Bagratunis, Proshyans, and Orbelyans. This unique heraldic device embodies several key themes of Armenian history and culture, notably the country’s resilience, spirituality, and unyielding sense of nationhood.


In many cultures, the eagle represents power, courage, and immortality, while the lamb often symbolizes innocence and purity. In the Armenian context, the image of an eagle holding a lamb in its claws has been interpreted as a symbol of the Armenian nation’s continuous struggle for survival and independence amidst adversarial powers.

Historical Significance

  1. Mamikonians: The Mamikonians were a powerful Armenian noble family, active from the 1st to the 8th centuries. The lamb in eagle’s claws on their coat of arms is thought to represent the family’s resilience and determination against foreign invaders.
  2. Bagratunis: The Bagratuni dynasty was one of the ruling houses of Armenia, from the late antiquity until the Middle Ages. Their coat of arms bore the same symbol, perhaps to emphasize their role as protectors of the Armenian people.
  3. Proshyans: The Proshyan family, known for their high-ranking military officials and their role in the resistance against Ottoman and Persian invasions, also used this symbol. It likely represented their commitment to defend the innocent and maintain the sovereignty of the Armenian nation.
  4. Orbelyans: The Orbelyan dynasty, a renowned noble family during the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia, had the same heraldic symbol. It likely symbolized their struggle for autonomy and the maintenance of Armenian identity under foreign rule.

Contemporary Relevance

In contemporary times, the “Lamb in Eagle’s Claws” remains a potent symbol of Armenian national identity and the spirit of resilience. It continues to inspire Armenians to preserve their rich cultural heritage, their sovereignty, and their unique national identity.

Thus, the “Lamb in Eagle’s Claws” is not merely a symbol but a narrative – a visual story of the centuries-long struggles, hopes, and indomitable spirit of the Armenian people. It is an emblem that encapsulates the essence of Armenian history and identity, serving as a reminder of their past and a beacon for their future.

Vigen Avetisyan

Based on status: Armenians And Armenia

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