The two main devices (symbols) in the Dunston blazon are the buck’s head and comb. The three main tinctures (colors) are gules, or and sable .
Gules, the heraldic colour red is very popular, sometimes said to represent “Military Fortitude and Magnanimity”1. It is usually abbreviated as gu and in the days before colour printing was shown in a system known as hatching by vertical lines 2. 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).3
The bright yellow colour frequently found in coats of arms is known to heralds as Or, or sometimes simply as Gold.4. 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 5. The yellow colour is often associated with the Sun, and the zodiacal sign of Leo.6.
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 7. 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 8. Although it may seem a sombre tone, and does indeed sometimes denote grief, it is more commonly said to represent Constancy 9.
The chief is an area across the top of the field 10. It appears in many different forms and can itself be charged with other charges and ordinaries, 11, being treated almost as if it were a completely separate area. In its simplest form it can be clearly identified. Early examples include the award by Henry III of England to the knight Robert de MORTEYN BRETON of Ermine, a chief gules.
It is important that a coat of arms be easily recognised and so everyday objects were frequently used as clearly identifiable charges – tools 12 being a common and important example of these, of which the comb is typical. Some of these tools are rather obscure to modern eyes, who of us nowadays would recognise a hemp-break 13, let alone know what to use it for! Nevertheless, for mediaeval peasant it was a clearly identifiable symbol.