The four main devices (symbols) in the Barkley blazon are the cinquefoil, chequy, billet and bend. The three main tinctures (colors) are sable, azure 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.
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” 4. 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 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.
Natural objects abound in heraldry, and one category that gives especial delight are the many flowers and flowering plants that frequently occur 9. The cinquefoil is also of this type, being drawn, at least a little, realistically and often to very pleasing effect. It is shown as five-petalled flower, each petal quite rounded but with a distinct tip. It is sometimes pierced with a hole in the centre and usually appears on its own, without any leaves. 10 It has no fixed colour but can appear in any of the available heraldic tinctures.
Chequy (a word with a surprising number of different spellings!) is what is known as a treatment, a repeating pattern usually used to fill the whole background of the shield with a series of alternately coloured squares 11. These squares are usually quite small (there should be at least 20 in total), giving the appearance of a chess board, but any combination of colours may be used. It can also be used as a patterning on some of the larger ordinaries, such as the pale and fess, in which case there are three rows of squares. Wade, an authority on heraldic meaning groups chequy with all those heraldic features that are composed of squares and believes that they represent “Constancy”, but also quotes another author Morgan, who says that they can also be associated with “wisdom…verity, probity…and equity”, and offers in evidence the existence of the common English saying that an honest man is a ”Square Dealer” 12.
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 13xz`, and the billet is a typical example of this, and can appear in any of the main heraldic tinctures. In form it is a simple rectangle though sometimes has a slightly rounded or ragged appearance to reflect one possible origin as a block of wood cut by an axe. 14. Wade groups the billet with the other square charges as symbols of “honesty and constancy”. 15