The three main devices (symbols) in the Hulse blazon are the pile, buck’s head and sun. The two main tinctures (colors) are sable and argent.
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.
The pile was originally quite a simple shape, being a triangle reaching from the top of the shield down to a point near the lower centre 6. A clear example being that of CHANDOS awarded in 1337, Or a pile gules. There is some argument as to the origin, Wade suggests some similarity with the meaning of “pile” in construction (a foundation) and hence that the shape could be adopted by those who have demonstrated some ability in the building trade 7. An earlier writer, Guillim, perhaps more plausibly suggested that the shape echoes those of a pennant or triangular flag 8 The shape is quite distinctive however and became popular, leading to many embellishments to distinguish it from its close fellows, with multiple piles meeting at various points, starting from various edges and with additional decoration, leading to potentially quite complex descriptions!
The chief is an area across the top of the field 9. It appears in many different forms and can itself be charged with other charges and ordinaries, 10, 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.
The sun was long used as a potent symbol before the advent of heraldry and brought some of that existing meaning with it. In conventional heraldry it is normally borne in its splendour, that is with a face and a large number of alternating straight and wavy rays. 11 It can also be seen issuing from behind clouds, and in some cases a demi or half sun coming from the base, reflecting either the dawn, or perhaps as it appears in the arms of WESTWORTH, with the sunset. 12