The two main devices (symbols) in the Atloe blazon are the cross and per pale indented. The three main tinctures (colors) are sable, argent and or .
Sable, the deep black so often found in Heraldry is believed to named from an animal of the marten family know in the middle ages as a Sabellinœ and noted for its very black fur 1. In engravings, when colors cannot be shown it is represented as closely spaced horizontal and vertical lines, and appropriately is thus the darkest form of hatching, as this method is known 2. Although it may seem a sombre tone, and does indeed sometimes denote grief, it is more commonly said to represent Constancy 3.
Argent is the heraldic metal Silver and is usually shown as very pure white. It is also known more poetically as pearl, moon (or luna) 4. In a sketch or drawing it is represented by plain, unmarked paper 5.
Or is the heraldic metal Gold, often shown as a bold, bright yellow colour. It is said to show “Generosity and elevation of the mind” 6. Later heralds, of a more poetic nature liked to refer to it as Topaz, after the gemstone, and, for obvious reasons associated it with the Sun 7. In drawings without colour it is usually represented by many small dots, or by the letter ‘O’ 8.
No other symbol appearing in heraldry is subject to as much variation as the cross 9. Mediaeval Europe was a deeply religious and Christian and many of the nobility wanted to show their devotion by adopting the symbol of the cross as part of the arms. In its basic form, the cross is created from two broad bands of colour at right angles covering the whole extent of the shield. It has been subject to all manner of embellishment, and the interested reader is referred to the references, especially Parker’s Heraldic dictionary for many examples of these. 10 11 12 Suffice it to say that any armiger would be proud to have such an important device as part of their arms.
The background of the shield can be divided into two potrtions in a variety of ways, and each portion treated differently. In the heraldry of continental Europe there is a tendency to use these areas to combine two different designs, but in British and Scottish heraldry the preference is to treat the divided field as a single decorative element with other features placed as normal. Whatever tradition is followed, one of the most common divisions is per pale, a simple separation along a vertical line. An line drawn indented, i.e. in a saw-tooth pattern might be taken for dancettee, but in this case the individual “teeth” are much smaller. An early author, Guilllim seeks to associate this decoration with fire 13, and one can see the resemblance to flames. The visual effect is quite striking, an good example being the arms of DUNHAM (Lincolnshire), which are Azure, a chief indented or.