Last modified: 2003-04-12 by joe mcmillan
Keywords: rio de janeiro | brazil | eagle | coat of arms | mountain | southern cross |
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by Joseph McMillan
Officially adopted 1947(?)
On 23 July 1975, the new constitution of the State of Rio de Janeiro established that the flag
and the shield of the new state (which was absorbing Guanabara) would be the
same that those of the ancient state. The blue and white are the traditional colors
Jaume Ollé, 2 July 1996
According to articles 8 and 10 through 12 of
law no. 5588 of 5 October 1965, the flag is 7:10, divided quarterly white and blue-celeste, with the white in
the upper hoist and lower fly, with the state coat of arms on the center.
Joseph McMillan, 10 July 2002
The current flag law is from 1965 and makes no mention of any earlier state flag. However,
Whitney Smith says the flag was adopted in 1947. I have thus far been unable to verify the 1947 adoption date
from laws and decrees published in the state's Diário Oficial for 1947.
Joseph McMillan, 10 September 2002
A set of cards distributed with bars of Eucalol soap in the 1930s shows Rio de Janeiro state with the same
flag as that used today except that the style of the coat of arms is consistent with its appearance in the
1920s and 1930s. Obviously this flag dates from before the reported adoption date of 1947, at least
de facto. It is possible that 1947 was when it was readopted following the 1937-46 period in which state
flags were legally banned.
Joseph McMillan, 13 February 2003
Law no. 5588
of 5 October 1965 provides the most recent official description and interpretation of the arms that appear
on the center of the flag.
Art. 1 - The coat of arms of the State of Rio de Janeiro, created by Law No. 5138 of 7 February 1963, will have the description and interpretation given in the present law.Joseph McMillan, 10 July 2002
Art. 2 - The coat of arms has the traditional oval form of shield used by clergymen, symbolizing the Christian sentiments of the people of the state, divided into two fields. The first [upper] blue, representing the sky and symbolizing justice, truth, and loyalty, with the silhouette of the Serra dos Órgãos issuing from the dividing line, the Dedo de Deus peak being most prominent, all proper; the second [lower] divided between green, representing the lowlands of the state, and blue, recalling the sea of the state's beaches.
Art. 3 - The shield is surrounded by a gold cord, symbolizing the unity of all Fluminenses [citizens of the state].
Art. 4 - Overall, an eagle proper with open wings in the attitude of taking flight, representing strong, honest, and just government, carrying the message of confidence and hope to the most distant corners of our state; perched upon a round shield of blue, with a silver fess and orle, respectively carrying the inscriptions: "9 de abril de 1892" recalling the promulgation of the first Constitution of the State of Rio de Janeiro, and Recte Rempublican Gerere (Conduct the affairs of the public with righteousness), conveying the constant preoccupation of the public men of our state; and charged in chief with a silver five-pointed star representing the capital.
Art. 5 - As supporters, a stalk of cane and one of coffee, fructed, both proper, the principal products of the land.
Art. 6 - A silver [white] scroll with the inscription "ESTADO DO RIO DE JANEIRO" in black.
Art. 7 - The crest is the star Delta crucis in silver, which represents the State of Rio in the national flag.
Serra dos Órgãos means range of the organs--a reference to the pipes of an
organ. It's a national park. The Dedo de Deus [finger of God] is the park's principal attraction.
In good weather it can be seen from several places of the state.
Alexandre R.C. Alves, 3 November 1999
The official state website, in addition
to providing the text of the law, also provides five color templates (magenta, cyan, yellow, silver, and
black), a composite full color image, and a construction sheet for the flag. The basic design of
the arms dates back to state law 3 of 29 June 1892. It was designed by Ricardo Honorato Teixeira de
Carvalho, according to Clovis Ribeiro's 1933 book Brazões e Bandeiras do Brasil.
I have found a number of different depictions of it since then, varying in the way the divisions
among the mountains, shore, and water are shown, the portrayal of the eagle, the placement of the star
crest either inside or above the shield, the artistic treatment of the cane and coffee branches flanking
the shield, etc.
Joseph McMillan, 10 September 2002
There are today two administrative units with the name of Rio de Janeiro: the state (whose flag is the one quarterly of blue and white) and the City (whose flag is white with a blue saltire). The state includes the city. Until 1831, they were a single entity, the Captaincy of Rio de Janeiro (during the Portuguese colonial period) and later, during the United Kingdom of Portugal and Brazil, the Province of Rio de Janeiro. In 1831, when Emperor Pedro I (King Pedro IV of Portugal) went back to Lisbon, the Brazilian parliament administratively separated the city from the rest of the Province, designating it "the neutral municipality." Since 1763, it had been the capital of Brazil, and from 1808 to 1821 it was also the capital of the whole Portuguese kingdom and colonial empire. Even after 1889, when Brazil become a republic, Rio de Janeiro kept its unusual status, changing its designation from "neutral municipality" to "federal district."
In 1960, Brasília was inaugurated as the new capital, in a new federal district. Not knowing what to do adminstratively with the city of Rio, which had just lost its status as national capital, it was decided to upgrade it to the status of a state. Meanwhile, a State of Rio de Janeiro already existed--the same one from which the city had been taken in 1831. Therefore, the former Federal District became the newly created entity of Guanabara State, from the bay on which the city lies. That Guanabara State, with barely more than the 1500 km2 of the former national capital, existed only from 1960 to 1975. In that year, the federal government and parliament passed a law that joined the existing State of Rio de Janeiro (whose capital was then the city of Niterói) with the short-lived State of Guanabara. The new entity was also called State of Rio de Janeiro and its capital was again the City of Rio de Janeiro. That is, as in the colonial days, the city was again part of the state's territory.
The parliament recomended that the symbols of the former state of Rio de
Janeiro should remain as before the joining (the blue and white quartered
flag, the coat of arms with the flowering branches and the anthem) since contests to
choose new ones had not been promised. Almost twenty-five years have passed and
these symbols have not yet been replaced. As for the blue and white colors, I don't know
where the statement comes from that they were based on the traditional Portuguese colors. I don't
known when the state and city flags were created, whether it was back in
the colonial days or not, but I believe that it might be true.
After all, the blue circle of the Brazilian flag is a trace of the same
circle that showed on the flag of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil
and the Algarves, adopted in 1816, and blue and white were always present on
the Portuguese coat of arms ever since King Afonso Henriques.
Guilherme Pacheco translated by António Martins, 17 August 1999
by Joseph McMillan
Some states had old maritime ensigns in the 19th century, including Rio de Janeiro.
Jaume Ollé, 8 December 1999
The French Navy's Album de Pavillons of 1858
shows a set of galhardetes
(normally translated pennants) flown by Brazilian merchant ships to indicate their province of origin.
The galhardetes were rectangular, approximately 1:6. They were all simple
geometric patterns, more or less like signal flags. The one item of particular interest, however, is that the
galhardete for Rio de Janeiro province was divided quarterly, blue and white, very similar to the field of the modern
which is divided quarterly white and blue. It might be interesting to determine if there is any connection.
Joseph McMillan, 17 April 2001