Last modified: 2013-05-15 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 similar design.
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
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 municipal 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 descriptions.
António Martins-Tuválkin, 9 June 2002