The two main devices (symbols) in the Armstrong blazon are the arm in armour and paly. The three main tinctures (colors) are azure, or and gules .
Azure is the heraldic colour blue, usually quite a deep, dark shade of the colour (there is a lighter blue that sometimes occurs, known as celestial azure). If colour printing is not available then it can be represented by closely spaced horizontal lines in a scheme known as “hatching” 1Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 26. The word is thought to originate from the Arabic lazura and it represents the colour of the eastern sky. It is also said to be the colour associated by the Catholic Church with the Virgin Mary and hence of particular significance 2The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P150.
The bright yellow colour frequently found in coats of arms is known to heralds as Or, or sometimes simply as Gold.3Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 27. Along with, argent, or silver it forms the two “metals” of heraldry – one of the guidelines of heraldic design is that silver objects should not be placed upon gold fields and vice versa 4A Complete Guide to Heraldry, A.C. Fox-Davies, Bonanza (re-print of 1909 Edition), New York, 1978, P85. The yellow colour is often associated with the Sun, and the zodiacal sign of Leo.5Understanding Signs & Symbols – Heraldry, S. Oliver & G. Croton, Quantum, London, 2013, P53.
Gules, the heraldic colour red is very popular, sometimes said to represent “Military Fortitude and Magnanimity”6The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P36. It is usually abbreviated as gu and in the days before colour printing was shown in a system known as hatching by vertical lines 7Understanding Signs & Symbols – Heraldry, S. Oliver & G. Croton, Quantum, London, 2013, P52. Although it may look like a French word it is normally pronounced with a hard “g” and may be derived either from the Latin gula (throat) or Arabic gule (rose).8A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1847, P154
The Arm appears frequently in the crest of a coat of arms, often armoured and described in some detail as to its appearance and attitude. 9A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:arm It can also appear on the shield itself as a charge. The arm itself is said to signify a “laboorious and industrious person” 10The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P92, whilst the arm in armour may denote “one fitted for performance of high enterprise” 11A Display of Heraldry, J. Guillim, Blome, London, 1679, P184
Play is what is known as a treatment, a regular patterning, usually over the whole background of the shield. The word comes from the pale, the major vertical stripe that appears on some shields, paly is obvious its little cousin, consisting of, typically, 6 or more vertical stripes, alternately coloured 12A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Paly. The stripes can be any combination of the heraldic tinctures, an early example is that of GURNEY, being simply paly of six, or and argent. Paly can be combined with other effects, such as decorative edges on each stripe, or overlaid with other treatments such as bendy, and these can be very effective and pleasing to the eye 13A Complete Guide to Heraldry, A.C. Fox-Davies, Bonanza (re-print of 1909 Edition), New York, 1978, P121.