The two main devices (symbols) in the Grammer blazon are the lion and billettee. The four main tinctures (colors) are argent, azure, gules and or.
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) 1. In a sketch or drawing it is represented by plain, unmarked paper 2.
The bright, strong blue color in Heraldry is known in English as azure, and similarly in other European languages – azul in Spanish, azurro in Italian and azur in French. The word has its roots in the Arabic word lazura, also the source of the name of the precious stone lapis lazuli 3. Despite this, those heralds who liked to associate colours with jewels chose instead to describe blue as Sapphire. According to Wade, the use of this colour symbolises “Loyalty and Truth” 4.
Gules, the heraldic colour red is very popular, sometimes said to represent “Military Fortitude and Magnanimity”5. It is usually abbreviated as gu and in the days before colour printing was shown in a system known as hatching by vertical lines 6. 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).7
The bright yellow colour frequently found in coats of arms is known to heralds as Or, or sometimes simply as Gold.8. 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 9. The yellow colour is often associated with the Sun, and the zodiacal sign of Leo.10.
The art of heraldry would be significantly poorer if we were without the lion in all its forms. Most general works on Heraldry devote at least one chapter solely to this magnificent creature and its multifarious depictions 11 12 13. Some of the earliest known examples of heraldry, dating right back to the knighting of Geoffrey of Anjou in 1127, where he is shown with six such beasts upon his shield 14 .The great authority on heraldic symbology, Wade, points out the high place that the lion holds in heraldry, “as the emblem of deathless courage” 15, a sentiment echoed equally today.
The billet is a simple rectangular shape like a brick or ingot, and in fact is sometimes shown with simply shading to imply rounded corners, quite a rare feature in the largely solid and geometric art of heraldry. Billetty then comes to mean “strewn with billets”, i.e. the field is covered with regularly spaced rectangles with large gaps between them 16. This kind of patterning is known as a treatment, and there are no fixed colours, any combination may be used.