The four main devices (symbols) in the Laton blazon are the cross moline, lozenge, cinquefoil and greyhound. The three main tinctures (colors) are or, gules and sable .
The bright yellow colour frequently found in coats of arms is known to heralds as Or, or sometimes simply as Gold.1. 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 2. The yellow colour is often associated with the Sun, and the zodiacal sign of Leo.3.
Gules, the heraldic colour red is very popular, sometimes said to represent “Military Fortitude and Magnanimity”4. It is usually abbreviated as gu and in the days before colour printing was shown in a system known as hatching by vertical lines 5. 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).6
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 7. 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 8. Although it may seem a sombre tone, and does indeed sometimes denote grief, it is more commonly said to represent Constancy 9.
No other symbol appearing in heraldry is subject to as much variation as the cross 10. Mediaeval Europe was a deeply religious and Christian and many of the nobility wanted to show their devotion by adopting the symbol of the cross as part of the arms. Since no two arms could be identical there arose many variants of the cross, typically involving patterning along the edges 11, or fanciful, decorative endings to the arms of the cross 12. The cross moline is typical of these whereby each arm of the cross expands and curves outwards, reminscent of the fer-de-moline from which it gets its name. These cross variations are probably largely for decorative effect, and to differentiate the arms from similar ones and hence their significance is that of the Christian cross itself.
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 13xz`, 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. 14 Guillim groups the lozenge with all square shapes as being symbolic of “verity, probity, constancy and equity”. 15
Natural objects abound in heraldry, and one category that gives especial delight are the many flowers and flowering plants that frequently occur 16. The cinquefoil is also of this type, being drawn, at least a little, realistically and often to very pleasing effect. It is shown as five-petalled flower, each petal quite rounded but with a distinct tip. It is sometimes pierced with a hole in the centre and usually appears on its own, without any leaves. 17 It has no fixed colour but can appear in any of the available heraldic tinctures.