The four main devices (symbols) in the Hamon blazon are the lion, chevron, spear and buglehorn. The three main tinctures (colors) are sable, argent and azure .
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.
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 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 8 9 10. 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 11 .The great authority on heraldic symbology, Wade, points out the high place that the lion holds in heraldry, “as the emblem of deathless courage” 12, a sentiment echoed equally today.
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 13, or additional cross-pieces used to strengthen the shield and painted a different colour.14. It has also acquired the meaning of “Protection… granted… to one who has achieved some notable enterprise” 15, possibly becuase of its resemblance to the roof truss of a house.
Given the martial nature of the origins of Heraldry, in the identification of knights and men-at-arms it can come as no surprise that mediaeval weaponry of all types are frequently to be found in a coat of arms 16. The spear or lance is a typical example, often borne (for obvious reasons) in allusion to the crucifixtion. 17 Sometimes only the head is shown, and on other occasions the tilting or tournament spear is specified, familiar to us from many a jousting scene in the movies. 18