Or (heraldry)

Last updated
Or
 
ClassMetal
Non-heraldic equivalent Gold (yellow)
Monochromatic designations
Hatching pattern 
Tricking abbr.o., or.
Poetic designations
Heavenly body Sun, ☉
Jewel Topaz
VirtueFaith [1] or obedience and gentility [2]

In heraldry, or [3] ( /ɔːr/ ; French for "gold") is the tincture of gold and, together with argent (silver), belongs to the class of light tinctures called "metals", or light colours. In engravings and line drawings, it is hatched using a field of evenly spaced dots. It is very frequently depicted as yellow, though gold leaf was used in many illuminated manuscripts and more extravagant rolls of arms.

Heraldry profession, study, or art of creating, granting, and blazoning arms and ruling on questions of rank or protocol

Heraldry is a broad term, encompassing the design, display, and study of armorial bearings, as well as related disciplines, such as vexillology, together with the study of ceremony, rank, and pedigree. Armory, the best-known branch of heraldry, concerns the design and transmission of the heraldic achievement. The achievement, or armorial bearings usually includes a coat of arms on an shield, helmet, and crest, together with any accompanying devices, such as supporters, badges, heraldic banners, and mottoes.

Gold Chemical element with atomic number 79

Gold is a chemical element with symbol Au and atomic number 79, making it one of the higher atomic number elements that occur naturally. In its purest form, it is a bright, slightly reddish yellow, dense, soft, malleable, and ductile metal. Chemically, gold is a transition metal and a group 11 element. It is one of the least reactive chemical elements and is solid under standard conditions. Gold often occurs in free elemental (native) form, as nuggets or grains, in rocks, in veins, and in alluvial deposits. It occurs in a solid solution series with the native element silver and also naturally alloyed with copper and palladium. Less commonly, it occurs in minerals as gold compounds, often with tellurium.

Tincture (heraldry) colour used to emblazon a coat of arms in heraldy

Tinctures constitute the limited palette of colours and patterns used in heraldry. The need to define, depict, and correctly blazon the various tinctures is one of the most important aspects of heraldic art and design.

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The word "gold" is occasionally used in place of "or" in blazon, sometimes to prevent repetition of the word "or" in a blazon, or because this substitution was in fashion when the blazon was first written down, or when it is preferred by the officer of arms. [4] The use of "gold" for "or" (and "silver" for "argent") was a short-lived fashion amongst certain heraldic writers in the mid-20th century who attempted to "demystify" and popularise the subject of heraldry.

Blazon art of describing heraldic arms in proper terms

In heraldry and heraldic vexillology, a blazon is a formal description of a coat of arms, flag or similar emblem, from which the reader can reconstruct the appropriate image. The verb to blazon means to create such a description. The visual depiction of a coat of arms or flag has traditionally had considerable latitude in design, but a verbal blazon specifies the essentially distinctive elements. A coat of arms or flag is therefore primarily defined not by a picture but rather by the wording of its blazon. Blazon also refers to the specialized language in which a blazon is written, and, as a verb, to the act of writing such a description. This language has its own vocabulary, grammar and syntax, which becomes essential for comprehension when blazoning a complex coat of arms.

Officer of arms state officer for heraldic, armorial or ceremonial duties

An officer of arms is a person appointed by a sovereign or state with authority to perform one or more of the following functions:

"Or" is sometimes spelled with a capital letter (e.g. "Gules, a fess Or") so as not to confuse it with the conjunction "or". [5] However, this incorrect heraldic usage is not met with in standard reference works such as Bernard Burke's General Armory, 1884 and Debrett's Peerage. Fox-Davies advocated leaving all tinctures uncapitalized. A correctly stated blazon should eliminate any possible confusion between the tincture or and the conjunction "or" (which is rare in blazons in any case), certainly for the reader with a basic competence in heraldry.

In grammar, a conjunction is a part of speech that connects words, phrases, or clauses that are called the conjuncts of the conjunctions. The term discourse marker is mostly used for conjunctions joining sentences. This definition may overlap with that of other parts of speech, so what constitutes a "conjunction" must be defined for each language. In English a given word may have several senses, being either a preposition or a conjunction depending on the syntax of the sentence. In general, a conjunction is an invariable (noninflected) grammatical particle and it may or may not stand between the items conjoined.

Bernard Burke British officer of arms and genealogist

Sir John Bernard Burke, was a British genealogist and Ulster King of Arms, who helped publish Burke's Peerage.

Debretts British publisher

Debrett's is a professional coaching company, publisher and authority on etiquette and behaviour, founded in 1769 with the publication of the first edition of The New Peerage. The title is named after John Debrett.

Sometimes, the different tinctures are said to be connected with special meanings or virtues, and represent certain elements and precious stones. Even if this is an idea mostly disregarded by serious heraldists throughout the centuries, [6] it may be of anecdotal interest to see what they are, since the information is often sought. Many sources give different meanings, but or is usually said to represent the following:

Topaz Silicate mineral

Topaz is a silicate mineral of aluminium and fluorine with the chemical formula Al2SiO4(F, OH)2. Topaz crystallizes in the orthorhombic system, and its crystals are mostly prismatic terminated by pyramidal and other faces. It is one of the hardest naturally occurring minerals (Mohs hardness of 8) and is the hardest of any silicate mineral. This hardness combined with its usual transparency and variety of colors means that it has acquired wide use in jewellery as a cut gemstone as well as for intaglios and other gemstone carvings.

Sun Star at the centre of the Solar System

The Sun is the star at the center of the Solar System. It is a nearly perfect sphere of hot plasma, with internal convective motion that generates a magnetic field via a dynamo process. It is by far the most important source of energy for life on Earth. Its diameter is about 1.39 million kilometers, or 109 times that of Earth, and its mass is about 330,000 times that of Earth. It accounts for about 99.86% of the total mass of the Solar System. Roughly three quarters of the Sun's mass consists of hydrogen (~73%); the rest is mostly helium (~25%), with much smaller quantities of heavier elements, including oxygen, carbon, neon, and iron.

Aurskog-Høland Municipality in Akershus, Norway

Aurskog-Høland is a municipality in Akershus county, Norway. It is part of the Romerike traditional region. The administrative centre of the municipality is the village of Bjørkelangen.

Chantemerle-les-Blés Commune in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, France

Chantemerle-les-Blés is a commune in the Drôme department in southeastern France.

Puy-de-Dôme Department of France

Puy-de-Dôme is a department in the centre of France named after the famous dormant volcano, the Puy de Dôme. Inhabitants were called Puydedomois until December 2005. With effect from Spring 2006, in response to a letter writing campaign, the name used for the inhabitants was changed by the Puy-de-Dôme General Council to Puydômois, and this is the name that has since then been used in all official documents and publications.

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Related Research Articles

In heraldry, argent is the tincture of silver, and belongs to the class of light tinctures called "metals". It is very frequently depicted as white and usually considered interchangeable with it. In engravings and line drawings, regions to be tinctured argent are either left blank, or indicated with the abbreviation ar.

In heraldry, purpure is a tincture, equivalent to the colour "purple", and is one of the five main or most usually used colours. It may be portrayed in engravings by a series of parallel lines at a 45-degree angle running from upper right to lower left from the point of view of an observer, or else indicated by the abbreviation purp.

In heraldry, tenné is a "stain", or non-standard tincture, of orange, light brown or orange-tawny colour.

Division of the field section of the field on an escutcheon

In heraldry, the field (background) of a shield can be divided into more than one area, or subdivision, of different tinctures, usually following the lines of one of the ordinaries and carrying its name. Shields may be divided this way for differencing or for purposes of marshalling, or simply for style. The lines that divide a shield may not always be straight, and there is a system of terminology for describing patterned lines, which is also shared with the heraldic ordinaries. French heraldry takes a different approach in many cases from the one described in this article.

Variation of the field heraldic term

In heraldry, variations of the field are any of a number of ways that a field may be covered with a pattern, rather than a flat tincture or a simple division of the field.

Abatement (heraldry) modification of a cotat of arms

An abatement is a modification of a coat of arms, representing a less-than honorable augmentation, imposed by an heraldic authority or by royal decree for misconduct. The practice of inverting the entire escutcheon of an armiger found guilty of high treason has been attested since the Middle Ages and is generally accepted as reliable, and medieval heraldic sources cite at least one instance of removing an honourable charge from a coat of arms by royal decree as an abatement of honour. Other abatements of honour implied by the addition of dishonourable stains and charges, appearing in late 16th-century texts, have never been reliably attested in actual practice. Additionally, as many heraldic writers note, the use of arms is not compulsory, so armigers are more likely to relinquish a dishonored coat of arms than to advertise their dishonor.

Fess heraldry

In heraldry, a fess or fesse is a charge on a coat of arms that takes the form of a band running horizontally across the centre of the shield. Writers disagree in how much of the shield's surface is to be covered by a fess or other ordinary, ranging from one-fifth to one-third. The Oxford Guide to Heraldry states that earlier writers including Leigh, Holme, and Guillim favour one-third, while later writers such as Edmondson favour one-fifth "on the grounds that a bend, pale, or chevron occupying one-third of the field makes the coat look clumsy and disagreeable." A fess is likely to be shown narrower if it is uncharged, that is, if it does not have other charges placed on it, and/or if it is to be shown with charges above and below it; and shown wider if charged. The fess or bar, termed fasce in French heraldry, should not be confused with fasces.

Charge (heraldry) heraldic motif; an ordinary, common charge or symbol

In heraldry, a charge is any emblem or device occupying the field of an escutcheon (shield). This may be a geometric design or a symbolic representation of a person, animal, plant, object or other device. In French blazon, the ordinaries are called pièces while other charges are called meubles.

Rule of tincture rule of color composition

The most basic rule of heraldic design is the rule of tincture: metal should not be put on metal, nor colour on colour. This means that Or and argent may not be placed on each other; nor may any of the colours be placed on another colour. Heraldic furs as well as "proper" are exceptions to the rule of tincture.

In heraldry, azure is the tincture with the colour blue, and belongs to the class of tinctures called "colours". In engraving, it is sometimes depicted as a region of horizontal lines or else is marked with either az. or b. as an abbreviation. The term azure derives from the name of the deep blue stone now called lapis lazuli. The word was adopted into Old French by the 12th century, after which the word passed into use in the blazon of coats of arms.

In classical heraldry, vert is the tincture equivalent to the colour "green". It is one of the five dark tinctures (colours). The word vert is simply the French for "green". It is used in English in the sense of a heraldic tincture since the early 16th century. In Modern French, vert is not used as a heraldic term. Instead, the French heraldic term for green tincture is sinople. This has been the case since c. the 16th century. In medieval French heraldry, vert also meant "green" while sinople was a shade of red. Vert is portrayed by the conventions of heraldic "hatching" by lines at a 45-degree angle from upper left to lower right, or indicated by the abbreviation vt. when a coat of arms is tricked.

Ermine (heraldry) "fur", or varied tincture, in heraldry

Ermine in heraldry is a "fur", a type of tincture, consisting of a white background with a pattern of black shapes representing the winter coat of the stoat. The linings of medieval coronation cloaks and some other garments, usually reserved for use by high-ranking peers and royalty, were made by sewing many ermine furs together to produce a luxurious white fur with patterns of hanging black-tipped tails. Due largely to the association of the ermine fur with the linings of coronation cloaks, crowns and peerage caps, the heraldic tincture of ermine was usually reserved to similar applications in heraldry.

Lion (heraldry) element in heraldry

The lion is a common charge in heraldry. It traditionally symbolises courage, nobility, royalty, strength, stateliness and valour, because historically it has been regarded as the "king of beasts". Lion refers also to a Judeo-Christian symbolism. The Lion of Judah stands in the coat of arms of Jerusalem. Similar looking lion can be found e.g. in the coat of arms of the Swedish royal House of Bjelbo, from there in turn derived into the coat of arms of Finland, formerly belonging to Sweden, and many others examples for similar historical reasons.

Leopard (heraldry) heraldic animal

The leopard in heraldry is traditionally depicted the same as a lion, but in a walking position with its head turned to full face, thus it is also known as a lion passant guardant in some texts, though leopards more naturally depicted make some appearances in modern heraldry. The Oxford Guide to Heraldry makes little mention of leopards but glosses leopard as a "term used in medieval heraldry for lion passant guardant. Now used for the natural beast." Another name for this beast is the ounce.

Sir John Ferne was an English writer on heraldry, a genealogist, an eminent common lawyer and MP.

Helmet (heraldry) heraldic device

In heraldic achievements, the helmet or helm is situated above the shield and bears the torse and crest. The style of helmet displayed varies according to rank and social status, and these styles developed over time, in step with the development of actual military helmets. In some traditions, especially German and Nordic heraldry, two or three helmets may be used in a single achievement of arms, each representing a fief to which the bearer has a right. For this reason, the helmets and crests in German and Nordic arms are considered to be essential to the coat of arms and are never separated from it.

Roundel (heraldry) heraldry term for a circular charge

A roundel is a circular charge in heraldry. Roundels are among the oldest charges used in coats of arms, dating from the start of the age of heraldry in Europe, circa 1200–1215. Roundels are typically a solid colour but may be charged with an item or be any of the furs used in heraldry. Roundels are similar to the annulet, which some heralds would refer to as a false roundel.

References

  1. See the table in Woodcock & Robinson (1988), p. 54, compiled from G. Leigh's Accedence of Armory (1562) and Sir John Ferne's The Glory of Generositie (1586).
  2. Woodcock & Robinson (1988), p. 54, attributed to Johannes de Bado Aureo.
  3. Here treated as non-standard English (foreign or technical term), therefore italicized.
  4. Woodcock, Thomas; Robinson, John Martin (1988). The Oxford Guide to Heraldry. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 54. ISBN   0-19-211658-4.
  5. See Blazon: Capitalization
  6. Woodcock, Thomas; Robinson, John Martin (1988). The Oxford Guide to Heraldry. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 53. ISBN   0-19-211658-4.
  7. See the table in Woodcock & Robinson (1988), p. 54, compiled from G. Leigh's Accedence of Armory (1562) and Sir John Ferne's The Glory of Generositie (1586).
  8. Woodcock & Robinson (1988), p. 54, attributed to Johannes de Bado Aureo.

Further reading