The following items are a direct translation from the classical genealogical and heraldic reference “Herbarz Polski” by Kasper Niesiecki, S.J., Lipsk (Leipzig) edition, 1839-1846.
Arms: Gules, an arrow in pale point to chief, the base double sarcelled and counter embowed, Argent. Out of a crest coronet a panache of peacock plumes proper, charged with the arms in fess.
The shield is red, upon which is a silver arrow pointing upward, and the bottom is divided and curved on both ends. Out of a helmeted crown is a display of peacock plumes, upon which can be seen lying on its side the device as pictured on the shield. This is how it was described by the Paprocki in his work Gniazdo cnoly [“Nest of virtue”] on pages 109 and 1172, and in 0 herbach [“Of Clan Shields”] on page 392. You will also find a mention in Okoiski’s work, volume 2, pg. 299, and in Klejnoty [“Crests”] on pg. 69.
All these authors agree with the author/historian Dlugosz, that this clan came to Poland from Moravia, and that author says of the families of this house that they were always providi etfacundi [“prudent and eloquent”]. The authors also agree with what Paprocki wrote, whose words I cite here. From ancient tales a story about the origin of this shield has been handed down by descendants of this house, that its progenitor, a certain knight of great renown in Moravia, would compete in archery with pagans in a foreign land, and they would vie with each other, trying each other with amazing knightly feats. One pagan, seeing that he had no luck against him by force, went to the monarch of that land, knowing his mercy. Since the pagan had always enjoyed good fortune in battle with every enemy, wanting to get the better of the knight as well, he tried to tweak his nose in front of the monarch. The knight took that as an insult, and seizing him by the lip, tore it off, along with his moustache and nose; he stuck it on an arrow and showed it to the king. The king, who despised the disfigured pagan, gave the knight the arrow piercing the moustache as a remembrance for all time of his superiority over the pagan, and named him Odrzywas [literally “tears off moustache”], which later was corrupted to Odrowaz.
That is how Paprocki tells it. Okolski, however, would have it that that the progenitor of this clan cut off both halves of the moustache, and the flesh with it, with the arrow. Bogdan Balbin in notes to Epitome rerum Bohemicarum [Summary of Bohemian Affairs], chapter 15, calls the arms of the Odrowaz family Sagitta circumfiexa [“bent arrow”], and adds that some of the earliest houses in Bohemia bore these arms, of whom Tobias was Bishop of Prague, during the times of Premysl Otakar II; but Balbin says that in those times when he was writing there was no family in Bohemia that used this clan shield – only in Moravia, the Tworkowskis and Siedlnickis (page 291).
There is some doubt as to when the Odrowaz family came to Poland. Paprocki, based on a charter of the Lysa Gora monastery issued in 966, mentions a Saul de Konskie, during the reign of Boleslaw the Bold. But he is mistaken, because the monastery of Lysa Gora was founded later than that, and Boleslaw the Bold had not yet ruled in Poland …. [Editor’s note: Boleslaw the Bold is thought to have been born in 967, and died in 1025].
Malachowski and Wieladek and others give the following families as using this shield: Abratowicz, Minoski, Przedwojewski, Wilkowski, Wissogerd, and Wyssegerd. [A translation from the Niesiecki Armorial, Vol. VII, pg. 23ff]
Translated by Leonard J. Suligowski; first appeared in the Spring/Summer 2001 issue of “White Eagle, The Journal of the Polish Nobility Association Foundation”.
Arms: gules, between an increscent and decrescent or, a sword erect argent, the hilt and pommel to chief of the second. Mantled of his liveries and out of a crest coronet, five ostrich plumes proper.
There should be two crescent moons of gold, back to back, each with one point at the top and the other at the bottom. Between them is a sword of silver with a broken tip, hilt upward, tip downward, all within a red field. Atop the helmet are five ostrich plumes.
Thus it is described by Bielski in his work on p. 253, and by Paprocki in Gniazdo cnoty, p. 301 and p. 1199, in 0 herbach on p. 283, by Okolski, vol. 2, p. 357, and in Klejnoty, p. 71. Petrasancta, chapter 59, says that many houses in Austria and Styria use two moons back to back, but without the sword.
According to the consensus of our writers, these arms’ origin date from the rule of King Boleslaw the Bold. For when the foe invaded Poland, a colonel named Ostoja was sent out to fight them with a small force; having received word from sentries of the approaching foe, he quietly stole up to the enemy camp and cut
down the guards so that none of them escaped either the sword or shackles. One of those captured, seeking mercy in his captivity, promised Ostoja under oath that he would help him win a greater victory. He was released and went straight back to his camp; saying nothing of the first guards’ defeat, he urged his commander to send them reinforcements, and in far greater numbers. Ostoja made certain that he surrounded them on all sides and none could escape his sword; that night, after had joined up with a second, nearer company, he attacked the enemy camp. They were all terrified, so that some fell under the sword, while others, fleeing from their pursuers to the nearby: woods, to save their lives, disappeared. For this deed Ostoja was granted these arms and provided a sizable estate, am even the captive who helped him to victory was granted the same arms and freedom. In his Ogrod Paprocki describes a different basis for the origins of these arms, and Okolski also mentions it; but it has so little verisimilitude that it is omitted here.
From these arms came later those called Przegonia; in addition many houses in Poland, due to the similarity in arms, refer sometimes to one, sometimes the other. Okolski says in Vol. 2, p. 230, that the Ciamart family in Siedmiogrod district [a region in Transylvania, now in Romania] uses arms similar to Ostoja in its seal, i. e., with two moons back to back, over which there is a cross arranged so that it doesn’t touch the moons; El2bieta, wife of Jeremia Mohilo, palatine of Wallachia, was of this family.
[Added by the 19th century editor, Bobrowicz: In addition to the families listed here, Kuropatnicki, Malachowski, and Wieladek and others give these families in Wo), nowskitheir armorials using:
Not all those listed here use the same form of the arms. The Pokroszynski’s have a sword arranged as in the Ostoja arms, but place the two moons one under the other, both with their tips downward, as if they were hanging from the sword; and on the helmet are three ostrich feathers. Orda has two stars, one above the other, instead of a sword between the moons. The Lniski arms are similar to Ostoja, but with no sword between the moons, only one star over them, and the moons are backed up to each other closer together; also on the helmet are two similar moons with a star, The Finks of Inflanty use the same arms.
The Zawadzki’s of Prussia do not have one moon on the left side, but only two stars next to the sword, one above the other.
Translated by Leonard J. Suligowski; first appeared in the August 1998 issue of “Rodziny, The Journal of the Polish Genealogical Society of America”.