Last modified: 2003-09-13 by joe mcmillan
Keywords: rio de janeiro | saltire | armillary sphere | arrow | dolphin | phrygian cap | coat of arms |
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by Joseph McMillan
Basic design adopted 1908
The flag of former Guanabara State became the flag of Rio
de Janeiro City again; it lost the white star on the crown.
"Elso," 11 August 1999
The present coat of arms of the City of Rio de Janeiro, which appears in the flag of the city,
has the following heraldic composition: Portuguese shield; on a blue field, the color that
symbolizes loyalty, a Manueline armilliary
sphere combined with the three arrowns that martyred St.
Sebastian, patron of the city, all in gold, and on the center a
Phrygian cap, symbol of republican rule. Above the top of the shield, a gold
mural crown with five towers, characteristic of a
port city. As supporters, two silver dolphins, one at the
right and one at the left, symbolizing a maritime city. The one at the
right has a laurel branch and the one at the left an oak branch.
symbolizing, respectively, victory and strength.
Guilherme Pacheco, translated by Jorge Candeias, 14 August 1999
"Portuguese shield" means a shield with a flat top and semicircular bottom, usually
8:7. "Manueline" refers to the Portuguese King Dom Manuel I and to an
architecture style, also known as Portuguese late Gothic, inpired by seafaring
motifs. The armillary sphere is a nautical instrument first used by this same
king as a personal emblem. Regarding the arrows, interestingly enough, Mozambique (in its colonial arms)
and Ponta Delgada (Azores) show these arrows with the same symbolism, but Mozambique had seven arrows
and Ponta Delgada five. The Mozambican guerrilla party Renamo slso kept five in its flag.
Mural crowns are actually typical of all cities, or of civic arms in general. A special crown for
maritime cities would be a naval crown, perhaps.
António Martins, 17 August 1999
The flag of the city of Rio de Janeiro is shown and explained on the official city website.
The flag is similar to that shown for the former State of Guanabara, which was,
for all practical purposes, coterminous with the city of Rio, if I understand the arrangement correctly,
but with the color of the coat of arms changed to red and white for display
on the flag. (The city coat of arms other than for use on the flag remains gold on blue, as on the Guanabara flag
and described above. The city website says the five-towered mural crown is indicative of a capital city, not a
port city as stated above.)
Joseph McMillan, 17 April 2001