The four main devices (symbols) in the Copeland blazon are the bar, boar, trefoil and mullet. The three main tinctures (colors) are vert, or and gules .
The deep green colour that is so often observed in heraldry is more properly known as vert. According to Wade, the use of this colour signifies “Hope and Joy”, but may also represent, rather delightfully, “Loyalty in Love” 1. It has other names also, the French call it sinople, perhaps after a town in Asia Minor from where the best green die materials could be found 2. More fanciful heralds liked to associate it with the planet venus and the precious stone emerald 3. More strangely, there is some evidence that the term prasin was anciently used, being the Greek for the vegetable we call the Leek!
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” 4. 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 5. In drawings without colour it is usually represented by many small dots, or by the letter ‘O’ 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.
The bar is a thin, horizontal stripe across the centre of the shield 10, usually in groups of two or three (any more and there would be confusion with barry, a treatment of horizontal lines of alternating colours). Bars can be a distinctive and easily recognised device, early examples include those awarded by Henry III of England to the family MAUDYT Argent, two bars gules.
In the middle ages, the wild boar, a far more fearsome creature than its domesticated relative, the pig was a much more commonly seen animal than today. It was also known as a sanglier. 11 It can appear in many of the same poses that we see for the lion, but has its own (easily imagined!) position known as enraged! 12 We should not be surprised then that this “fierce combatant” is said to be associated with the warrior. 13
Natural objects abound in heraldry, and one category that gives especial delight are the many flowers and flowering plants that frequently occur 14. The trefoil may originally been a representation of a specific plant (perhaps shamrock) but it has been used as a symbol almost since the beginning of heraldry and over time has adopted a stylised aspect. 15. Guillim believes that it signifies “perpetuity…the just man shall never wither”. 16