Last modified: 2008-08-09 by ian macdonald
Keywords: municipalities |
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A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
We have 6,000 municipalities in Brazil, each with its flag (although normally
they fly only at the respective city hall). Each state is divided into a number
of smaller regions for administrative purposes, as "departments" or
"microregions." The main city of each smaller region is the sede [seat].
As a general rule, these cities happen to be those with much history and the others are
older districts that were emancipated. For example, the state of Rio de Janeiro, one of the smallest,
evolved from 5 municipalities in the 19th century to ten or so at the
beginning of the 20th century. This ten or so became the sedes of
microregions, which have since been subdivided into 90 municipalities!
Günter Zibell, 5 February 2001
The standard organic law by which Brazilian municipalities are chartered gives
each municipality the right to select its own symbols--a coat of arms,
flag, and hymn. This is normally done by law passed by the municipal chamber
and approved by the prefect (elected executive). There is no central authority
for these symbols and, as far as I can determine, no authoritative set of rules that
must be followed. Nevertheless, some professional heraldists have attempted with
some success to persuade a number of municipalities that there are in fact rules that
must (or should) be followed).
Joseph McMillan, 4 June 2002
Mural Crowns are sometimes assigned fanciful explanations (recalling that the
original settlement was fortified, for example), but in most cases are simply explained
as the accoutrement proper to arms of dominion. Some designers attempt to equate
the color and number of towers to Portuguese usage, which differentiates between
the crown used by the capital, other cities, towns (vilas), and villages (freguesias).
Brazilian law does not make these distinctions and many cities use arms
with crowns that do not follow these "rules."
Shields in Brazilian municipal coats of arms are usually described as either "Iberian"
or "Samnitic." Both are claimed to symbolize the Portuguese heritage of Brazil.
I suppose this [the Samnitic shield] is the one that was present on the
Portuguese national flag from 1706 to 1910. Portuguese heraldry calls it
precisely a "French shield." I wonder what is it called in French. "Samnitic?"
Well, that's a fancy name, all right!
António Martins, 6 March 1998
A common statement beginning the legal description of Brazilian municipal flags,
especially those designed by Arcinóe Antônio Peixoto de Faria or Lauro Ribeiro
Escobar, runs more or less as follows: "The style of the flag follows Portuguese
heraldic tradition, whose rules and canons we inherit, that municipal flags should
be divided into eighths, sixths, quarters, or thirds, having for their colors the
same colors as the field of the coat of arms, this coat of arms being applied on
a geometric figure on the flag, placed in the center or the hoist."
In fact, Portuguese municipal flags actually are solid or divided into
quarters or eighths (gyronny). Brazilian flags that claim to follow this
rule are usually not parted into different colors like Portuguese flags but rather consist of a solid field
with stripes overlaid on it, sometimes in cross or saltire, often in cross and saltire
(Union Jack-style), and in many cases horizontally. Thus a blue flag with three
narrow yellow horizontal stripes is said incorrectly to be divided "quarterly per fess."
On flags with stripes emanating from the area where the coat of
arms is placed (either on the center or in the hoist), the stripes are usually
said to symbolize the radiation of municipal power throughout the territory of the
municipality. The coat of arms represents the municipal government itself, while
the geometric figure on which it is placed represents the city that is the seat of
the municipality. This concept obviously results in many flags of remarkable
Joseph McMillan, 4 June 2002
Let me stress very clearly that there
is no such thing as a Portuguese heraldic tradition for municipal flags, as the
currently used were laid out in the late 1920s--a date irreparably too late for Brazilians to
follow them out of any "inheritance." Furthermore, let me utter an authoritative assertion:
traditional or not, Portuguese munucipal flag backgrounds are either plain, quartered or
gyronny of eight--all patterns seldom found in Brazilian municipal flags. Finally, the
wording used used in Portuguese laws describing municipal flags is almost always gironada or sometimes
gironada de oito partes (divided gyronny of eight parts), not oitavada as in Brazilian
António Martins-Tuválkin, 9 June 2002