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Contestado Rebellion, 1912-17 (Brazil)

Monarquia Celestial, Quadro Santo

Last modified: 2013-03-16 by ian macdonald
Keywords: santa catarina | paraná brazil | cross (green) | contestado |
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About the Flag of the Contestado (1912-1917)

The Contestado was a disputed area of some 40,000 sq km along the Santa Catarina-Paraná border (the word contestado meaning "contested" or "disputed"). From 1912-1917, it was the location of a peasant rebellion led by a charismatic Catholic conservative known as Brother João Maria. The immediate cause was a reaction to the activities of American railroad builders' bringing in outside labor. By law 12060 of 18 December 2001, the state of Santa Catarina recognized the flag of the Contestado Rebellion as a regional symbol the area. The flag is described in the law as white with a green centered cross.
Joseph McMillan, 15 September 2002

The municipal website of Fraiburgo has more details on the flag of the the Contestado Rebellion. Each rebel battalion ("reduto") designed its own flag, without defined size or proportions, but all on the same template, white rectangular panel with a green cross in the middle. Two copies of the flag outlasted the conflict; captured by the troops sent to suppress the rebellion, they were granted to the History Museum of Bahia and to the David Carneiro Museum in Curitiba, respectively.

A flag is described in detail (with a photo), as of dimensions 98.5 cm x 44 cm. The green cross is 38.6 cm in height and 26.4 cm in width. The cross is placed 35.4 cm from the flag's base and 24.6 cm from its top and 8.8 cm from each side of the flag. The "heraldic interpretation" of the flag is given, based on" data and sociological interpretation of the conflict":
- White symbolizes the aspiration to peace and purity of mind required by the strict religious moral and the customs reinforced in the "redutos", where the "virgins" had a main role in the organization.
- Green symbolizes the resources of the forest, mostly represented by araucarias, that the rebels wanted to preserve, since the forests were their source of subsistence, supplying them in fruit (cones), honey, yerba maté, game, timber for huts, leaves for roofs, wood for fire and shelter for cattle in winter time.
- The cross, with the ends of the arms shaped as points, is a replica of the raw cross planted in the local cemeteries. It symbolizes the people's deep Christian feelings, the suffering in their miserable life and the permanent presence of death in each fighting. It also represents, through its green colour on a white background, the aspiration to peace and to a better life where all men would live in fraternity.

This flag is presented on another photo as matching the specifications of the Law.

The flag of Contestado is listed among the official symbols of the municipality of Fraiburgo (Article 2 Paragraph 1 of the Municipal Constitution, amended in 2001). The flag should hoisted, together with the national, State and municipal flag on public buildings (Article 2 Paragraph 2 of the Municipal Constitution, amended in 2001). - Municipal Constitution, Fraiburgo

Contestado Rebellion, 1912-17 (Brazil) image by Ivan Sache, 25 February 2013

The "História Licenciatura" website shows the photo of a flag labelled as "the Contestado flag", with a "regular" Latin cross.

The Thiago de Castro Museum in Lagos keeps a flag that matches this model. 

A replica of the flag matching this model is used in the Historical and Anthropological Museum of the Contestado Region, Caçador.

Contestado Rebellion, 1912-17 (Brazil) image by Ivan Sache, 25 February 2013

Accordingly, I question the accuracy of the flag with the green cross throughout presented above. Rather, we seem to have an "official" flag (re-created by Law) and another flag in "unofficial" use, the two of them with a Latin cross. The Law says that the cross is placed in the middle, not that it reaches the edges of the flag.
Ivan Sache, 24 February 2013