The three main devices (symbols) in the Carle blazon are the pomegranate, duck and chevron. The four main tinctures (colors) are azure, or, gules and argent.
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” 1. 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 2.
The bright yellow colour frequently found in coats of arms is known to heralds as Or, or sometimes simply as Gold.3. 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 4. The yellow colour is often associated with the Sun, and the zodiacal sign of Leo.5.
Gules, the heraldic colour red is very popular, sometimes said to represent “Military Fortitude and Magnanimity”6. It is usually abbreviated as gu and in the days before colour printing was shown in a system known as hatching by vertical lines 7. 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).8
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) 9. In a sketch or drawing it is represented by plain, unmarked paper 10.
Many items found in the natural world occur in coats of arms, including many plants that people of the middle ages would be familiar with. Several varities of bush and small plants frequently found in the hedgerows beside fields can be observed 11, in addition to the famous thistle of Scotland 12. The pomegranate is a an example of such a plant, instantly recognisable to those in the mediaeval period and still a proud symbol today.
We can consider the goose and duck together here as the former is quite rare, the latter appear in several forms, but both share the same meaning. Guillim, the 17th century author points out that such birds can swim, fly and run and thus their use may symbolise those who “have many ways of eluding their enemies”. 13 Other names for the ducks especially mayh have been used because of some assocation with the family name, the smew may fall into this category. 14
The chevron is one the major shapes used upon a shield, known as ordinaries. The inverted ‘V’ of the chevron is perhaps thought to have originated to represent a military scarf folded on the shield 15, or additional cross-pieces used to strengthen the shield and painted a different colour.16. It has also acquired the meaning of “Protection… granted… to one who has achieved some notable enterprise” 17, possibly becuase of its resemblance to the roof truss of a house.