Tincture (heraldry)

Tinctures constitute the limited palette of colours and patterns used in heraldry. The use of these tinctures dates back to the formative period of European heraldry, in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, but the range of tinctures and the manner of depicting and describing them has evolved over time, as new variations and practices have developed. The need to define, depict, and correctly blazon the various tinctures is therefore one of the most important aspects of heraldic art and design.


The colours and patterns of the heraldic palette are divided into three groups, usually known as metals, colours, and furs. In its original sense, tincture refers only to the group conventionally referred to as "colours".[1] But as the word "colour" seems inapplicable to the heraldic furs, and no other term clearly encompasses all three classes, the word "tincture" has come to be used in this broader sense, while "colour" has acquired the more restricted sense originally given to "tincture".[2] Thus, when consulting various heraldic authorities, care must be taken to determine which meaning each term is given.

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