The two main devices (symbols) in the Ketyn blazon are the saltire and leaf. The three main tinctures (colors) are gules, vert and argent .
The bold red colour on a heraldic shield is known as gules. It has a long history within heraldry, it is known that one of those who besieged the scottish castle of Carlaverock in 1300 was the French knight Euremions de la Brette who had as his arms a simple red shield.1The Siege of Carlaverock, N. Harris, Nichols & Son, London, 1828, P180. The word gules is thought to come from the Arabic gule, or “red rose” 2Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 313. Later writers associated it with the precious stone ruby and the metal iron 3Understanding Signs & Symbols – Heraldry, S. Oliver & G. Croton, Quantum, London, 2013, P53, perhaps because of the red glow of iron in the heat of the blacksmith’s forge.
The deep green colour that is so often observed in heraldry is more properly known as vert. According to Wade, the use of this colour signifies “Hope and Joy”, but may also represent, rather delightfully, “Loyalty in Love” 4The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P36. It has other names also, the French call it sinople, perhaps after a town in Asia Minor from where the best green die materials could be found 5A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Vert. More fanciful heralds liked to associate it with the planet venus and the precious stone emerald 6Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 27. More strangely, there is some evidence that the term prasin was anciently used, being the Greek for the vegetable we call the Leek!
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) 7Understanding Signs & Symbols – Heraldry, S. Oliver & G. Croton, Quantum, London, 2013, P53. In a sketch or drawing it is represented by plain, unmarked paper 8A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1847, P11.
The saltire is one the major ordinaries, large charges that occupy the whole of the field 9A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Saltire. Arguably one of the best uses of this device is that of the St. Andrews Cross, a white saltire on a blue background found on the Scottish flag. The saltire is obviously closely related to the Cross, and Wade in his work on Heraldic Symbology suggests additionally that it alludes to “Resolution”, whilst Guillim, an even more ancient writer, somewhat fancifully argues that it is awarded to those who have succesfully scaled the walls of towns! 10A Display of Heraldry, J. Guillim, Blome, London, 1679, P63
Amongst the natural objects depicted on a coat of arms, trees feature frequently, either in whole or as individual branches and leaves. 11A Complete Guide to Heraldry, A.C. Fox-Davies, Bonanza (re-print of 1909 Edition), New York, 1978, P94, 262, 407. Sometimes the species or the part of tree was chosen as an allusion to the name of the bearer, as in Argent three tree stumps (also known as stocks) sable” for Blackstock 12A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1847, P309 Trees of course had long been venerated and its use in a coat of arms may have represented some association with the god Thor 13The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P112