The four main devices (symbols) in the Dexter blazon are the chevron, canton, parroquet and cross moline. The three main tinctures (colors) are vert, argent and azure .
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!
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) 4. In a sketch or drawing it is represented by plain, unmarked paper 5.
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” 6. 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 7.
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 8, or additional cross-pieces used to strengthen the shield and painted a different colour.9. It has also acquired the meaning of “Protection… granted… to one who has achieved some notable enterprise” 10, possibly becuase of its resemblance to the roof truss of a house.
“The canton stands very high among honourable bearings”, according to Wade, a noted symbologist 11. The canton is a square shape, normally occupying the dexter chief of the shield. An early example is SUTTON, Bishop of Lincoln in the 13th century, who bore “argent a canton sable”. It occupies less space than a quarter and hence is sometimes added to an existing shield to difference branches of the same family, or, when a charge is added to it, to indicate some honour has been recieved 12. Wade remarks, that, in common with all square features can be associated with the virtue of“constancy”.
The parrot is a fairly recent usage, but the ancient form of popinjay was more common 13. Commonly coloured vert (green) with beak and legs gules (red) it is usually depicted with a high degree of realism. 14