A Heraldic Primer: Tinctures

Basic Tinctures

The heraldic palette consist of seven basic tinctures: white/silver, blue, red, yellow/gold, purple, black, and green. But these names are never used in heraldry. Instead, special heraldic names are used:

  • Argent(=white or silver)
  • Azure (=blue)
  • Gules (=red)
  • Or (=yellow or gold)
  • Purpure (=purple)
  • Sable (=black)
  • Vert (=green)
  • Colors and Metals

    The basic tinctures are classified according to whether they are colors (dark) or metals (light). Or and argent are metals. Azure, gules, purpure, sable, and vert are colors.


    There are several tinctures that are actually stylized patterns, classified as furs. These include:

  • Ermine argent with "tails" [originally from an ermine's hide]
  • Counter-ermine
    (sometimes called Ermines.)
    sable with "tails" argent
  • Erminois Or with "tails" sable
  • Pean sable with "tails" Or
  • Vair. interlocking "bells"
    [originally squirrel hides] alternately argent and azure)
  • Potent.interlocking "T's" alternately
    argent and azure
  • Miscellaneous Tinctures

    The following tinctures are seen uncommonly, especially in heraldry before 1600. These tinctures are not suitable for registration in SCA Heraldry. Their usage, however, is common enough in modern mundane heraldry to warrant mention here.