The four main devices (symbols) in the Delahay blazon are the sun, martlet, pile wavy and estoile. The three main tinctures (colors) are sable, gules and argent .
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 bold red colour on a heraldic shield is known as gules. It has a long history within heraldry, it is known that one of those who besieged the scottish castle of Carlaverock in 1300 was the French knight Euremions de la Brette who had as his arms a simple red shield.4. The word gules is thought to come from the Arabic gule, or “red rose” 5. Later writers associated it with the precious stone ruby and the metal iron 6, perhaps because of the red glow of iron in the heat of the blacksmith’s forge.
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) 7. In a sketch or drawing it is represented by plain, unmarked paper 8.
The sun was long used as a potent symbol before the advent of heraldry and brought some of that existing meaning with it. In conventional heraldry it is normally borne in its splendour, that is with a face and a large number of alternating straight and wavy rays. 9 It can also be seen issuing from behind clouds, and in some cases a demi or half sun coming from the base, reflecting either the dawn, or perhaps as it appears in the arms of WESTWORTH, with the sunset. 10
The martlett is by far the most common bird to appear in British Heraldry, perhaps only equalled by the eagle, however it is not a species ever to be found in an ornithologists handbook! The word itself is though to have come from the French word merlette, the female blackbird and itself a similar type of charge used in French Heraldry. 11. Over time the image has become quite stylised, without visible legs or distinctive feathers. Wade suggests that this representation arises from “the appearance of the bird of paradise to ancient travellers” 12. Other bird species may be named in coats of arms (cornish chough is a frequent example) but in actual execution their appearance is often indistinguishable from the martlet.
The pile was originally quite a simple shape, being a triangle reaching from the top of the shield down to a point near the lower centre 13. It can also be given a decorative egde style, and Wavy works well in this respect. It is, for obvious reasons, associated with both water and the sea 14. Indeed, a roundel with alternating bars of azure and argent (blue and white) is known by the shorthand term fountain, representing water at the bottom of a well 15. Other colours have also been used and the result can be very pleasing to the eye.