Saturday, 14 September 2013

On Tinctures in Period - Part IV: Azure

In the fourth entry in the series on the description of Tinctures in period treatises comes Blue, known in Blazon as Azure.

Dame Juliana Berners - Boke of Saint Albans (1486)
Septimus lapis

A blue stone it is & it is cald asure in armys

The . vii . stone is calde a Saphyre a blew stone Asure hit is calde in armys . The vertue therof is . the gentilman that in his Cotearmure berith that stone : wyse and vertues in his werkyng in his kyngs batayll shall be . the wich is reserved to tronus crowne that was wyse and vertues in his kyngys batayll of hevyn whan they faught with Lucifer

John Bossewell - Workes of Armorie (1572)
Blue, termed Azure, is compared to Jupiter, and to the Saphire.
The Saphire, is a Gemme skye coloured or Blewe, like to the Skye in the most faire wether. Amongest all the kyndes of Gemmes, it is one of the noblest and most royall, and therefore mete to be morne onely upon Kynges and Princes fyngers. Nothing in the worlde doth more recreate or delight the eyes then the Smaradge, & Saphire doe. It is mervelous effectuous agaynste all venyme. Wherefore, yf thou put a Spider into a Bore, it beyng shutt, & upon the mouth thereof thou layest the true Saphire, and do kepe the Spider within the same but a very short type, the Spider beyng vanquished and overcome by the vertue thereof, dyeth sodenly. [...] The Saphire for his soveraignetie, is called of the Lapidarie, the Gemme of Gemmes. In olde tyme in was consecrated onely to Apollo.

John Ferne - The Blazon of Gentrie (1586)
Once more, Ferne provides a listing of all those things which Azure can be compared unto.
The 4. cullor is lighte blew, called Azur, and signifieth in

1 - Planets. - Jupiter.
2 - Precious stones. - Saphyre.
3 - Vertues. - Justice and loyalty.
4 - Celestiall signes. - Taurus and Libra.
5 - Months. - Aprill and September.
6 - Days of the week. - Thurseday.
7 - Ages of Man. - Puerillitye or childishe yeers, (from 7. til 14. yeeres.)
8 - Flowres. - Blew Lilly.
9 - Elements. - Ayer.
10- Sesons of the yeer - Spring time.
11 - Complexions. - Sanguine
12 - Numbers. - 4. 9.
13 - Mettailes. - Copper.
Yet again, a tincture is compared to the Sanguine humour, the name of the attempted murrey coloured stain.

In the angelic system given later in the book, Azure is given to Thrones, and the virtue Wise & vertuous in working.

Edmund Bolton - The Elements of Armories (1610)

In the ordering of tinctures given by Upton, Azure ranks third, below the metals, while in the orders of Leigh and Scohier, it ranks fourth, below Gules. On his own 'throne of colours', he places it fifth, standing on the third tier of the throne together with Gules.

John Guillim - Display of Heraldrie (1611)
In Guillim's estimation, blue is a colour mostly composed of red with some white, where modern colour theory would consider that to be the combination to create a light red or even pink.
Blew is a Colour which consisteth of much Red, and of little White, and doth represent the colour of the Skie in a cleere Sunne-shining day. This in Blazon is termed Azure.
In his table of the names used for the tinctures and their order, Guillim gives Azure the fourth place, as Azure. Saphire. Iupiter.

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