The four main devices (symbols) in the Avery blazon are the bezant, annulet, lion’s head and chevron. The three main tinctures (colors) are sable, or and gules .
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.
The bright yellow colour frequently found in coats of arms is known to heralds as Or, or sometimes simply as Gold.4. 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 5. The yellow colour is often associated with the Sun, and the zodiacal sign of Leo.6.
Red in heraldry is given the name Gules, sometimes said to be the “martyr’s colour”7. The colour is also associated with Mars, the red planet, and the zodiacal sign Aries 8. Later heralds of a more poetical nature would sometimes refer to the colour as ruby, after the precious stone.9.
For easy recognition of the items on a coat of arms, and hence the quick identification of the owner, bold simple shapes are best. Hence, simple geometric shapes are often used for this purpose 10xz`, and the bezant Is a typical example of this, and in British Heraldry always takes the tincture or. It shares the same root as the name Byzantium, being associated with the gold coin of that city and indeed, in some heraldic traditions is represented as a coin-like disk in perspective. Wade suggests that the use of this device refers to ” one who had been found worthy of trust and treasure.” 11
For easy recognition of the items on a coat of arms, and hence the quick identification of the owner, bold simple shapes are best. Hence, simple geometric shapes are often used for this purpose 12xz`, and the annulet is a good example, being a circular ring of any colour. They also appear interlaced or one within the other, both of which are very pleasing additions. Wade believes that these were one of the symbols of ancient pilgrims. 13
There can be no animal more clearly associated with Heraldry than the lion, majestic King of the Beasts.14 The head of the lion also appears alone on many coats of arms, but its use in this form is largely to enable a clear difference from similar arms that use the complete animal, and its significance should be taken to be the same as the lion entire, being a symbol of “deathless courage”. 15