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Pilas (Municipality, Andalusia, Spain)

Last modified: 2019-01-26 by ivan sache
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Flag of Pilas - Image from the Símbolos de Sevilla website, 1 June 2014

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Presentation of Pilas

The municipality of Pilas (12,988 inhabitants in 2008; 4,594 ha; municipal website), is located 30 km west of Seville.

The Roman historian Pliny mentions Pillas, a rural region famous all over the Empire for olive oil; remains of ceramic and pottery confirm that the site had already been settled by potters in the Prehistoric times. The first urban settlement, however, was organized by the Moors in the late 11th century around an Almohad qubba (square mausoleum surmounted with a cupola), later incorporated into the Chapel of the Virgin of Bethlehem, built in 1580.
King Alfonso X the Wise changed in 1248 "the Moorish name of Pillas for Torre del Rey" (also written Tor, meaning the King's Tower). After the resettlement and the share of the Moorish territories, a small village emerged in the 15th century; its wealth was mostly made by the trade of olive oil and tiles in Seville, subsequently by exportation of soap to America. In the beginning of the 16th century, the village had three streets and some 20 inhabitants. Oil remained in the 16th century the most significant production of Pilas; during his official visit in Seville, King Philip II was offerred Pilas soap. The merchants used a river port on the Guadiamar, recalled in the toponymy by the Port's Road (Camino del Puerto).
Luis de Medina y Garvey (1870-1951) is to be credited the industrialization of Pilas, funding the modernization of oil production, wine cellars, timber industry and tanneries. He developed the production of grape marc oil and of soap from olive oilcake (sold under the Santa Amelia brand), founded the transport company Auto-Pileño and introduced electricity in the town in 1921. He also introduced new crops, such as cereals, tobacco and cotton.

Ivan Sache, 9 August 2009

Symbols of Pilas

The flag of Pilas (photo), adopted on 8 July 2004 by the Municipal Council, is prescribed by a Decree adopted on 13 July 2004 by the Directorate General of the Local Administration and published on 9 August 2004 in the official gazette of Andalusia, No. 155, pp. 17,701-17,702 (text).
The flag is described as follows:

1. Parts and elements of the flag.
1.1. The flag. Per the official model, the flag shall be made of silk and taffeta, following the technical description given in paragraph 2.
1.2. The coat of arms of the town is included in the flag. The flag shall mandatory include the coat of arms of the town, with its unique field and tinctures and crown, all or, fading into the background, blue, of the same colour as the flag, outlining its shape and arms in gold, and with the lower circle of the crown lit intaglio with light reflects. The coat of arms shall be in the center of the upper stripe, being located on 37 units, 12 units from the upper edge and 10 units from the upper border of the golden stripe. The central vertical axis of the coat of arms shall be placed 56 units from both vertical borders.
1.3. The staff shall be of wood or cane, with finial, hilt and heel.

2. Shapes and dimensions. It shall be rectangular and elongated, extending from the hoist to the fly. Its exact proportions shall be the length one and a half the hoist. It shall be made of a blue rectangle charged with a golden stripe in the lower part, so that the three following stripes appear, for a total height of 74 units, the upper, blue stripe shall be 59 units; the golden stripe shall be 10 units; and the lower, blue stripe shall be 5 units.

The processus of adoption of the flag was initiated by the Municipal Council on 16 April 2002. The municipal majority (PP, 11) approved the proposal, while the opposition either rejected it (IULV-CA, 1) or abstained form the vote (PSOE, 1).
[Minutes of the Municipal Council, 28 April 2004]

The coat of arms of Pilas, adopted on 22 December 2003 by the Municipal Council, is prescribed by a Decree adopted on 12 april 2004 by the Directorate General of the Local Administration and published on 28 April 2004 in the official gazette of Andalusia, No. 82, p. 10,215 (text).
The coat of arms is described as follows:

1.Parts and graphic elements.
1.1. The crown. Made on the model of St. Ferdinand of Seville's [King Ferdinand III the Saint] royal crown, surmounting the shield, inscribed in a rectangle, made of:
    - a golden circle set with jewels surmounted with eight trefoils (five visible) in turn with eight small spheres (four visibles), charged with pearls;
    - a sawn-off cone-shaped base divided in two parts by three annulets and charged in the lower part with the caption "A QUINE YO PUS NOMBRE TOR DEL REY", set in the upper part with nine jewels.
All the horizontal zones of the crown are made or bordered by segments of identical ellipses whose axes are with proportions 70/18.
1.2. The shield. The field is inscribed in a rectangle, oblong and rounded-off in base, slightly ending in a point, with proportions 6 in height on 5 in length. The border of the chief is divided in two slightly concave halves, the angles of the dexter and sinister cantons being cut off. The dexter and sinister borders are also concave, with the dimensions as specified in the attached description. In its unique field, centered and issuant from the heart of the shield, is inscribed the main motif, the Pila and, in the zone of the lower point, appears the Collar of the [Golden] Fleece. The Pila (lit., the basin) or golden fountain, is made of a basin of eight small lobes (five visible) bordered on top and bottom by beadings of semi-circular section. It includes the cup-shaped, upper basin, from which emerges a pipe pouring argent down to the lower basin. The water blue with reflects argent. In the center of each lobe is placed an oval medalion, used to avoid too many arms and fields, charged with attributes alluding to the identity of our town:
    - the Cross of the Order of Saint James, in the middle, gules outlined sable;
    - the Tower or Fortress, sinister, clay;
    - the olive tree, dexter, vert and wood colour.
The Collar of the Fleece of the Royal Spanish House, or, placed in an arched pattern, under the Pila, is placed at the base of the shield, crossing it dexter to sinister. It is made of B-shaped links. At the base proper is shown, hanging, the Golden Fleece, its head facing dexter.

2. Colour palette. The crown as well as the Pila and the Fleece shall be or with contrast and reflects. The crown's jewels are in turn gules and vert. The background of the shield is blue with darkened borders.

The basin (pilar) possibly alludes to El Pilar, a natural fountain that supplies the town with abundant water. The Cross of the Order of Saint James refers to the reconquest of the town in 1247 by the Knights of the Order. The tower (torre) alludes to the name given to the town by Alfonso X, Torre del Rey. Olive symbolizes the most important production in the municipality, olive oil. The rationale for the inclusion of the Golden Fleece on the arms is still under investigation.
[Símbolos de las Entidades Locales de Andalucía. Sevilla (PDF file)]

The previous coat of arms of Pilas was "Mantelé, 1. Or a palette or with paintbrushes proper, 2. Argent a Cross of St. James gules, 3. Azure a two-storeyed fountain pouring water. A chief fimbriated by the collar of the Golden Fleece inscribed "AYUNTAMIENTO DE" / "PILAS". The shield surmounted by a Royal crown closed.
The shield is of semi-Carlist shape. The fountain appears as the single charge in the semi-canting seal used in the last third of the 19th century. The palette was added,according to De Mena, in the 1940s. That kind of writing is forbidden in heraldry, while the use of the Collar of the Golden Flecce as a fimbriation is unknown to heraldists.
The charges evoke secondary or irrelevant facts. The Cross of St. James is intended to recall that the town was reconquerred form the Moors in the middle of the 13th century by Pelay Pérez Correa, Master of the Order of St. James. The event is of little significance, compared to the subsequent siege of Seville. Pilas was soon transferred to the Council of Seville, being subsequently incorporated to the Royal domain. The palette is intended to recall that the wife of the painter Murillo was born in Pilas, which is absurd. The artist married in the Magdalena church of Seville Beatriz Cabrera de Villalobos (d. 1663). Tomás López' "Relaciones" (1785) mention Murillo among the "illustre inhabitants" of Pilas, referring to the three sons he had with Beatriz. Pilas has been erroneously presented as Murillo's birth place by Antonio Palomino ("Parnaso español pintoresco laureado", 1724),; the mistake was corrected in 1806 by Ceán Bermudez.
[Juan José Antequera Luengo. Heráldica oficial de la provincia de Sevilla]

Ivan Sache, 7 November 2015