Heraldry >> Tinctures
The Six tinctures of heraldry
main rules of blazon relate to the use of tincture. This generic term covers
both metals - Or (gold/yellow) and
Argent (silver/white) - and colors -
(red), Azure (blue),
(black) and Vert (green). The first five can be
found everywhere and are very common on the arms of all periods and all regions.
The sixth, Vert, is less common, for reasons that have never been fully
explained. There is also a seventh tincture, found even less frequently: Purpure
(purple) not really regarded as a real heraldic tincture.
These heraldic tinctures are absolute, conceptual. almost immaterial: the
tones do not matter. For instance Gules can be vermilion, cerise, carmine,
garnet red, etc.; what counts is the idea of red and not the material and
chromatic representation of that tincture. The same applies to Azure, Sable and
Vert, and even to Or and Argent, which can be rendered by yellow and white (as
is commonly the case) or by gold and silver. For instance, on the arm of the
King of France, Azure semy of Fleurs-de-lis Or, the Azure can be sky blue or
ultramarine and the fleurs-de-lis lemon yellow, orange yellow or gold, it really
does not matter. The artist is free to translate Azure and Or as he sees fit,
depending on the material he is working on, the techniques he is using and his
own aesthetic sense. In the course of time the same arms can therefore be
represented in very different tones.