The three main devices (symbols) in the Halyburton blazon are the mascle, bend and lozenge. The two main tinctures (colors) are or and azure.
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” 1. 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 2. In drawings without colour it is usually represented by many small dots, or by the letter ‘O’ 3.
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” 4. 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 5.
The mascle is a close relative of the lozenge or diamond shape, but with the centre cut away revealing the background underneath. 6. Guillim, writing in the 17th century reckoned the mascle to represent the mesh of a net, being the biblical symbol for “persuasion, whereby men are induced to virtue and verity”. 7
The bend is a distinctive part of the shield, frequently occuring and clearly visible from a distance – it is a broad band running from top left to bottom right 8. Indeed, so important is the bend that it was the subject of one of the earliest cases before the English Court of Chivalry; the famous case of 1390, Scrope vs Grosvenor had to decide which family were the rightful owners of Azure, a bend or (A blue shield, with yellow bend). 9. The bend is held in high honour and may signify “defence or protection” and often borne by those of high military rank 10.
For easy recognition of the items on a coat of arms, and hence the quick identification of the owner, bold simple shapes are best. Hence, simple geometric shapes are often used for this purpose 11xz`, and the lozenge Is a typical example of this, and can appear in any of the main heraldic tinctures. It can appear on its own, voided (with the background visible through the middle), and can also be conjoined, whereby adjacent lozenges touch point-to-point. 12 Guillim groups the lozenge with all square shapes as being symbolic of “verity, probity, constancy and equity”. 13