Created By: Earnest on June 3, 2013 Last Edited By: Earnest on September 17, 2013
Troped

Crown of Horns (Bump for hats)

Sovereignty conveyed through stag's antlers.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope

This is a Costume Trope where someone with authority wears a crown or helmet made of (or made to resemble) an animal's horns. Typically the character is a royal, though warlords are fans of this fashion statement too, creating fearsome and garish horned helmets.

This is often an in-universe Invoked Trope, with characters trying to look similar to The Marvelous Deer, Horned Humanoid or even Beast Man. Just as often the horned animal in question is associated with authority or rulership by the wearer. As the page pic shows stags are often used, though bulls come a close second and basically any horned animal or mythical beast is fair game.

That said, demon styled horns are a pretty big clue that the wearer is evil. Often there's an aversion where the horns are used as a sign of cuckoldry, which is traditionally represented by "putting the horns" on a man, or even literally growing horns in some plays.

Compare Horny Vikings.

Not to be confused with a "crown of thorns."


Examples:

Literature
  • The Chronicles of Prydain novel The Book of Three. The chief villain is the Horned King, who wears a mask made out of a human skull with great antlers rising in cruel curves. He is a warlord who is Arawn's champion and the War Leader of Annuvin.
  • The Erlking, the wyldfae lord of goblins from The Dresden Files wears a helmet adorned with a massive brace of antlers.
  • In Lammas Night by Katherine Kurtz, the coven's male leader wears a horned crown for rituals, to symbolize the Horned God. Religious authority rather than secular/noble, but it might be close enough
  • In Tad Williams's Memory, Sorrow and Thorn trilogy, the king of the Sitha people used to wear a crown of witchwood in the distant past, which looked like stag's antlers. It also made Ineluki look really creepy in a drawing Simon found of him.

Live-Action TV
  • Game of Thrones provides the page picture of Renly Baratheon. His family's heraldic animal is a stag, and after the death of his brother the king in suspicious circumstances he declared himself the rightful king (ahead of his nephew and older brother). The antler crown follows that motif and was a valuable means to create an image of legitimacy.

Tabletop Games
  • The ... Crown of Horns in the Forgotten Realms setting. An artifact from the ancient magocracy of Netheril that was enchanted by then-god of death Myrkul, it consists of a silver circlet ringed by four bone horns. A thorough Artifact of Doom, as it holds what's left of Myrkul following his death in the Time of Troubles and tends to drive the wearer to evil (or insane in Laeral Silverhand's case).
  • Orcs and Orks in Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 respectively often wear the very large horns of various creatures, usually to show that they've killed something bigger and meaner than themselves.

Video Games
  • Malfurion Stormrage is the chief druid of the Night Elves in Warcraft III, and has a big pair of antlers coming out of his head. His brother, who is half-demon, has demonic horns.
  • The Jagged Crown in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim looks like it's made of dragon teeth.

Real Life
  • In ancient Mesopotamia, bull horns (sometimes more than 2) on a crown were a sign of divinity. So the "god"-kings wore them, at least according to relief sculptures of them. And the lamassu and gods wore them on their helms in visual artwork, as well.
  • In formal heraldry, the representation of the crowns belonging to Dukes and Kings carry abstract spikes which are thought to be the last survival of animal horns. (Each crown in heraldry has its own formal, rigidly defined, shape which clearly denotes the arms-holder's rank in the social order - ie, that for a baronet is fairly perfunctory, but that for a Duke is highly ornate). The horned helmets of ancient Celts and Vikings - which today are thought as only ever having had ceremonial rather than practical use - is also thought of as being a mark of the wearer's status, that only a warlord or high dignitary was entitled to wear horns.)
Also, check out use of horned head-dresses in North American Indian society - it's probably no accident that sitting Bull wore bison horns in his head-dress. Apache shamans wore ceremonial deer-horns, for instance.

Community Feedback Replies: 22
  • June 4, 2013
    Chabal2
    Often there's an aversion where the horns are used as a sign of cuckoldry. The TV presenter in Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory is introduced this way, posing in front of an unfortunately-placed trophy rack.

    • Malfurion Stormrage is the chief druid of the Night Elves in Warcraft III, and has a big pair of antlers coming out of his head. His brother, who is half-demon, has demonic horns.
    • Orcs and Orks in Warhammer and Warhammer 40 K respectively often wear the very large horns of various creatures, usually to show that they've killed something bigger and meaner than themselves.
  • June 4, 2013
    lexicon
    Why don't you list the guy in the picture as an example, or is he not from fiction? The description should have a link to The Marvelous Deer.
  • June 4, 2013
    StarSword
    Tabletop Games:
    • The ... Crown of Horns in the Forgotten Realms setting. An artifact from the ancient magocracy of Netheril that was enchanted by then-god of death Myrkul, it consists of a silver circlet ringed by four bone horns. A thorough Artifact Of Doom, as it holds what's left of Myrkul following his death in the Time of Troubles and tends to drive the wearer to evil (or insane in Laeral Silverhand's case).

    And fixed the namespace on the image link.
  • June 4, 2013
    ArcadesSabboth
    In ancient Mesopotamia, bull horns (sometimes more than 2) on a crown were a sign of divinity. So the "god"-kings wore them, at least according to relief sculptures of them. And the lamassu and gods wore them on their helms in visual artwork, as well.
  • June 4, 2013
    StarSword
    Made a link fix.
  • June 13, 2013
    Prfnoff
    The last part of the description should be rewritten with a link to Cuckold Horns. The existence of that trope may nullify the Willy Wonka "aversion".
  • June 13, 2013
    surgoshan
    Literature

    • In Tad Williams's Memory Sorrow And Thorn trilogy, the sitha king used to wear a crown of witchwood in the distant past, which looked like stag's antlers. It also made Ineluki look really creepy in a drawing Simon found of him.
  • June 14, 2013
    Antigone3
    In Lammas Night by Katherine Kurtz, the coven's male leader wears a horned crown for rituals, to symbolize the Horned God. Religious authority rather than secular/noble, but it might be close enough
  • June 14, 2013
    SharleeD
    • The Erlking from The Dresden Files wears a helmet adorned with a massive brace of antlers.
  • June 15, 2013
    Arivne
    Literature
    • The Chronicles Of Prydain novel The Book of Three. The chief villain is the Horned King, who wears a mask made out of a human skull with great antlers rising in cruel curves. He is a warlord who is Arawn's champion and the War Leader of Annuvin.
  • June 15, 2013
    1810072342
    This is getting indexed on the Just For Pun page, if nowhere else.
  • June 15, 2013
    StarSword
    ^What, as a pun on "crown of thorns"?
  • June 15, 2013
    AgProv
    It might be worth adding that in formal heraldry, the representation of the crowns belonging to Dukes and Kings carry abstract spikes which are thought to be the last survival of animal horns. (Each crown in heraldry has its own formal, rigidly defined, shape which clearly denotes the arms-holder's rank in the social order - ie, that for a baronet is fairly perfunctory, but that for a Duke is highly ornate). The horned helmets of ancient Celts and Vikings - which today are thought as only ever having had ceremonial rather than practical use - is also thought of as being a mark of the wearer's status, that only a warlord or high dignitary was entitled to wear horns.)

    (Also, check out use of horned head-dresses in North American Indian society - it's probably no accident that sitting Bull wore bison horns in his head-dress.) Apache shamans wore ceremonial deer-horns, for instance.
  • June 17, 2013
    Earnest
    ^^ I was actually going to put it in the Costume Tropes index, hadn't thought about the pun angle.
  • August 5, 2013
    Earnest
    Bump for hats. =)
  • August 6, 2013
    lexicon
    A lot of the examples don't say how this character is someone with authority. What authority does he have?
  • August 8, 2013
    aurora369
    There's a game mod for Skyrim, which, among other things, changes the crown of the Jarl of Falkreath to a horned one (deer is the heraldic animal of Falkreath).
  • August 13, 2013
    Earnest
    ^^ Really? Other than the Baratheon example (which I can expand on) they all seem to be pretty clearly people with royal ancestry or authority.

    (Though the Wonka example I'm thinking should probably go, on a second read.)
  • August 14, 2013
    MetaFour
    Not quite sure if this counts:

    Comicbook
    • Bone references this by naming a world-shaping macguffin The Crown of Horns. It's not a literal example because the object in question is actually a cave stalagmite formation that resembles a crown (and horns).
  • August 15, 2013
    lexicon
    Yes, the Baratheon example needs to be expanded on and the others are unclear. How is The TV presenter in Willy Wonka king-like? Is the Horned King an actual sovereign or just the chief villain who decided to call himself a king? What is "The Erlking"? When it says "the sitha king" does that mean that sitha is a place?

    I do like this concept and plan on giving it a hat when I can understand the examples better.
  • August 15, 2013
    Tiiba
    The Jagged Crown in Skyrim looks like it's made of dragon teeth.
  • August 29, 2013
    Chernoskill
    The folkloric "Wild Hunt" typically depicts a humanoid shrouded in robes, wearing antler's horns, accompanied by hunting dogs.

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=j59fcffdj8zgif77qudfwug5&trope=CrownOfHorns