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Rio Grande do Sul (Brazil)

Last modified: 2014-08-14 by ian macdonald
Keywords: rio grande do sul | coat of arms | farrapos | farroupilha | gaucho | triband: diagonal (green-red-yellow) |
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[Flag of Rio Grande do Sul (Brazil)] 7:10 image by Joseph McMillan

Adopted 1891; reinstated 1947

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Flag of the State of Rio Grande do Sul

The original flag of Rio Grande do Sul was adopted at the proclamation of the independent Rio Grande Republic on 11 September 1836, according to a design created in 1835. This flag was reestablished as the symbol of the state in 1889. In 1891 the shield was added. On 5 January 1966 it was regularized.
Jaume Ollé, 2 July 1996

According to law no. 5213 of 5 January 1966, "the flag of the state … is composed of three panels: green, red, and yellow, the green and yellow constituting right triangles and the red a quadrilateral ascending between the two triangles. On the center of the flag is the state coat of arms." Well-known interpretations of the colors include Mansueto Bernardi's (green for countryside, gold for soil, red for pride), and Augusto Porto Alegre's (green for spring, golden yellow for the wealth of the soil, red for enthusiasm).
Sources: and
Joseph McMillan, 10 July 2002

The flag of Rio Grande do Sul in its current form originally appeared during the republican campaign in the second half of the 19th century. Young anti-monarchist politicians in Rio Grande do Sul, led by Júlio de Castilhos, looked to the province's past, particularly to the time of the Farroupilha Revolt, for appropriate republican symbols.

In addition to the green, red, and yellow diagonal tricolor flag, the Farrapos also used another symbol that is incorporated into the present state flag, the lenço farroupilha. Lenço is the Portuguese word for a handkerchief, in this case the silk scarf or bandana that is characteristic of the costume of the gaúchos (cowboys, now also the designation of natives of Rio Grande do Sul) of the River Plate region of Argentina, Uruguay, and southern Brazil. Scarves of various colors had been used as items of political identification in Uruguay and Argentina. Early in their struggle, the Farrapo rebels adopted as their insignia a loose red silk scarf with two ends draped over the shoulders and knotted in the front to form the shape of a cross. This scarf was only unofficial, however, and the Farroupilha leadership, as the government of a proclaimed independent state, decided it needed to equip its forces with a more official scarf as a type of uniform. The idea seems to have been suggested by Major Bernardo Pires, chief of police of the Farrapo capital of Piratini, who ordered the first scarves from a producer in the United States through a trader in Montevideo on 10 May 1842. The first scarves were issued to Farrapo troops beginning in December 1843. They had printed on them the republic's revised arms (the basis for the present state coat of arms), inscriptions of slogans and the names of Farrapo victories, crossed Farrapo tricolor flags, and related scenes.

During the pro-republic agitation of the 1880s, Júlio de Castilhos and his colleagues revived the use of the Farroupilha scarf, mounting it on the center of an oblong version of the Farroupilha tricolor as a political symbol. By 1889, this had evolved into a new flag, with the coat of arms from the scarf printed on a white oval on the center of the flag. This flag was officially adopted as the flag of the State of Rio Grande do Sul in the first state constitution in 1891. With minor changes in the details of the coat of arms, it remains the state flag today. It was abolished by President Vargas in 1937 but reinstated in its previous form in the 1947 state constitution.
Joseph McMillan, 12 September 2002

Coat of Arms of Rio Grande do Sul

[Coat of Arms of Rio Grande do Sul (Brazil)]  image by Joseph McMillan

Law No. 5213 of 5 January 1966 provides that:

"The arms of the State shall be those from Rio-Grandense republican history, which consist of:
"On an oval shield, silver, a quadrilateral charged with a gold saber, supporting on its point a red Phrygian cap, between branches of tobacco and yerva-mate crossing each other across the hilt of the saber; [all on] a green lozenge with two gold five-pointed stars in the upper and lower angles; flanked by two gold columns, each with an antique cannonball [on its top]; all on a green field [ground in base]; surrounding this shield, a blue bordure containing the inscription "REPÚBLICA RIO-GRANDENSE" and the date "20 DE SETEMBRO DE 1835" in gold letters, separated by two five-pointed stars, also gold.
"The shield is superimposed on: (1) four tricolor flags (green, red, and yellow) interlaced two by two with their staffs topped by inverted gold fleurs-de-lis; the two outer flags are decorated with a red cravat, bordered in gold, attached to the point. (2) a red cavalry lance armed with a gold fleur-de-lis between four muskets armed with gold bayonets; (3) in base, two crossed black cannon barrels, partly covered by the flags; (4), a white scroll with the motto LIBERDADE, IGUALDADE, HUMANIDADE (Liberty, Equality, Humanity) in black."
The coat of arms originally showed pansies, symbolizing the firmness and simplicity of the republicans. Later, these were replaced by gold rosettes which in turn were replaced in the state arms by the five-pointed stars in the current law.
Sources: and
Joseph McMillan, 10 July 2002

The Rio Grande do Sul coat of arms, which appears on the flag, is only slightly changed from the arms used by the Farrapos in the final years of the Rio Grande Republic. Its origin is not known with certainty, but it is generally believed that the concept was originated by one of the leading rebels, Father Hildebrando, and that the final design, in the form of a Masonic allegory, was executed by Major Pires, a self-taught artist. This emblem presumably replaced the "arms" that had been adopted on 12 November 1836.
Joseph McMillan, 12 September 2002