Compony Cross

The cross is such a simple shape, and yet it lends itself to innumerable different formats and design

Compony, Trononné and Dismembered Cross

Componee Cross

Trononnee Cross

Checked Cross

On another page, we introduce the Mosaic Cross, which is composed of apparently random individual shapes, brought together to form a cross.

In heraldry, when a cross is composed of a single row of alternating coloured squares, the usual adjective is Compony (Fr: Componée) or Gobony (Fr: Gobonée).

Other terms used for a sectional cross include Tronçonne (various spellings: Tronçonnée, Trononnee, Trononné), Dismembered, Disjointed or Disjoined Cross.

A cross covered with a pattern, such as a Paisely, could be referred to as a Damasked Cross. And when it is made up like a chequered board, it has the obvious name of Chequy (Fr: Echiquetée).

Like most markings in heraldry, these patterns have no special Christian significance. Indeed, care should be taken with all crosses not to assume some prescribed meaning, when no such meaning exists.

Equipole without background

Equipole with background

The Equipolé pattern (also called Quarter-pierced) shown on the left, for example, with its central bright section, may be interpreted as a Glory Cross, as shown on the right.

Alternatively, it could be viewed for what it is; namely a chequered pattern of nine squares – four black and five white.

Our eyes can so easily trick us. A favourite optical illusion, and by far one of the simplest, is shown below. (The effectiveness of this depends on your PC screen settings.) The central bar appears to be lighter on the left and darker on the right. But if you cover the surrounding background, you'll see the central bar is the same shade on both the left and the right.

Optical illusion

It is worth remembering, when trying to understand what a cross or some other symbols actually 'means', the answer lies within ourselves. A cross may have some interesting attributes, and it may well have some prescribed meaning, illustrated in religious and heraldic books, or websites such as this.

If someone believes a particular cross has some mystical power, it is the value that person has placed on it. Even Christians, for whom the cross is the main identifying symbol, have different interpretations for different styles of cross.

Having said that, most Christians agree on the simple, real, and true meaning of the Cross.

The Paisely pattern is named after the Scottish town that wove the pattern to international fame, just as Damascus had earlier woven damask fabrics.


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