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Incorrect depictions of the portuguese national flag

Last modified: 2006-02-25 by antonio martins
Keywords: error | ratio: 9:13 | tower (yellow) | castle (yellow) | armillary sphere | wheel (yellow) |
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The official design that ever existed is the one still in use, with two parts of green on the hoist and three parts on the fly, and always with the coat of arms (centered on the partition line, half the flag’s height in diameter). Given the relatively complexity of these specs, however, simplifications and incorrect versions abound, though.
António Martins, 02 Jan 2002

No arms

wrong flag
image by António Martins, 06 Jul 1998

At Euro celebrations shown on TV, I seen Portugal flags as they are, minus the coat of arms.
Zach Harden, 02 Jan 2002

I saw this seal-less flag flying in several places in France too, intending to be displayed for Portugal (because it was flying with 14 other flags which were similar to the 14 other UE members’ flags).
Olivier Touzeau, 25 Feb 2003

I have also seen pieces of green and red cloth in a line with other E.U. member states’ flags, and I have seen them in Spain and in France. These are not bunting. They are pieces of cloth in the shape of a flag and flown from staffs or strung in a line with other flags which they resemble in shape and size. They are flags. They incorrectly symbolise Portugal, of course, but they are flown (ignorantly) specifically to symbolise Portugal.
André Coutanche, 26 Feb 2003

The flag of green and red vertically divided off-centered to hoist has no meaning whatsoever per se. It is a flag, certainly, if it is made of cloth and hoisted from a flag pole (it would be a flag even if that’s done virtaully, say per animated-gif, or even just as rectangular “patch” found on a begining of PT language paragraph on candy bar wrappings), but it is not the flag. I.e. it is not the flag of Portugal.
Željko Heimer, 26 Feb 2003

My experience tells me that that ugly rag is only used outside Portugal, probably to spare money with cheap displays, or something of the sort…
Jorge Candeias, 26 Feb 2003

They are certainly not according to the portuguese flag legal specification, which specifically specifies the coat of arms, though armless versions of the flag is an often seen simplifications — not really as a flag, but as a representation of the flag in iconic displays, as acceptable and proper as, f.i., an US flag with fewer stripes and stripes would be. Moreover, that design is used (with some sort or law backing it, I reckon) as tail fin and fuselage marking in some portuguese registered aircraft — namely warplanes and airliners.
António Martins, 05 Jan 2002

Our company sells this flag, made by Annin. Until some company decides to produce the flag with the arms, this is the only “courtesy” flag that we can offer. For some, being able to show their colors in part is better than not at all.
Rick Wyatt, 25 Feb 2003

The plain, armless, variation is one the more acceptable “mistakes”. Perhaps all portuguese heraldists and vexillologists would admit that such a simplification (or with a yellow disc in lieu of the arms) is much more acceptable than grossly misdepicted arms, as f.i. in the Corel Draw suite clipart.
António Martins, 26 Aug 2003

Use afloat

A friend on mine, in Macao, reported seeing them in use on small craft, without the arms.
Jim Ferrigan, 26 Feb 2003

I can understand how poor fishermen preferred to sew together two pieces of red and green cloth to be marginally within the law that orders vessels to display the flag of the nation they are registered in, instead of spending much-needed money in the purchase of fully armed flags. I can also see the portuguese authorities closing their eyes to that violation, even in the times of dictatorship.
Jorge Candeias, 27 Feb 2003

As pattern for vertical “high” flag

wrong flag by António Martins, 23 Aug 2003

The french city of Evian-les-Bains (where the last G8 summit took place) is decorated with vertical flags of several nations. The Portuguese flag is indeed without the emblem in the middle. I could not check the exact proportions of the flag, which was rectangular (not forked), with at least the red field bigger than the green one. (I am surprised nobody complained about this flag, since there is a sizeable Portuguese community in Evian and the neigborhood.)
Ivan Sache, 23 Aug 2003

Correct red-to-green ratio must go along correct (or at least approximate) height-to-width ratio. Vertical portuguese national “flags” with unequal stripes, with coat of arms or not, are percieved as just plain odd.
António Martins, 26 Aug 2003

Red-green bicolor

wrong flag
image by António Martins, 23 Aug 2003

I have a plate that I believe dates from between 1912 and 1917. It depicts the flags of several countries, including Portugal. The flag for Portugal, though, seems to be incorrect: It is shown as a red and green flag, split 50/50, with no sphere or shield.
Steve DeGroof, 29 Dec 2001

Occasionally had-made flags are produced and flown or (more commonly) waved without the arms, and they look plain (pun intended) awful.
Jorge Candeias, 24 Feb 2004

Simplifications and incorrect versions abound. A simple red/green vertical equal bicolor is perhaps the most simple as it gets.
António Martins, 02 Jan 2002

This is especially so when vertical flags are envolved.
António Martins, 26 Aug 2003

It is also widely used as a simplication of the portuguese national flag, especially for sash and ribbon design. See f.i. the flag inspired TAP logo and airliner livery.
António Martins, 24 Feb 2004

Towers for castles

wrong flag
image by António Martins, 13 Dec 2001

The quite usual wrong variation of the portuguese flag (and coat of arms), with towers instead of castles.
António Martins, 13 Dec 2001

This flag (officially lowered for the last time at the private residence of the last portuguese governor of Macao) is wrong!! It has towers instead of castles! (That is a quite usual mistake, by the way.) Some joke of an empire, I say: they dont even care to have properly depicted flags!
António Martins, 23 Dec 1999

Wrong ratio 9:13

wrong flag
image by Vítor Luís and António Martins, 09 Feb 2006

However I was shocked to learn that flag manufacturers make the national flag in 90×130 cm dimentions (ratio 9:13), instead of the correct 90×135 cm (ratio 2:3): I was told by one of them that it is so because 130 is a “more even” number than 135!… At any rate, however, larger flags follow the official proportions: seems that f.i. the figures 2×3 m are “even” enough… However, since 90 cm high are the most often used flags, one can say that there are more wrong flags in use than correct ones.
António Martins, 13 Jul 1999

Flipped arms

Another typical mistake, “flipped arms”: I saw it again, hoisted on 2003.04 at the balcony of the São Brás de Alportel municipal HQ.
António Martins, 24 Feb 2004

Arms upside-down

with incorrect lettering

wrong flag
image by João Madureira and António Martins, 19 Jun 2004

This has got to be the ugliest flag I’ve ever seen… As has already been reported, Portugal is currently experiencing an unprecedented flag craze… And not all of the flags are entirely correct. I’ve seen this flag flying from a window here in Lisbon. It consists of the national flag flipped vertically with yellow “comic book” lettering applied over it: in the top "UEFA Euro 2004", and in the bottom, most peculiar of all, "Brasil"! The flag is clearly not home-made, it has clearly been printed in industrial machines. I’ve seen at least another of these flags, but this one had a somewhat more reasonable lettering in the bottom : "Portugal".
João Madureira, 19 Jun 2004

No sphere

wrong flag
image by António Martins, 18 Jul 1999

The average portuguese flag… lacking the armillary sphere… I found this in a restaurant in Barcelona, serving brazilian and portuguese cuisine. It could be a monarchist flag, using though the republican colors and lacking the crown — but it would be the only one I ever saw. I bet for sheer ignorance and carelessness.
António Martins, 18 Jul 1999 and 07 Nov 2001

Green too light

light green
image by Vítor Luís and António Martins, 09 Feb 2006

Even such an extremely precise and valuable reference as Der Gross Flaggenbuch [neu92] of the German Kriegsmarine painted it in light green (alongside the tones of dark green for other flags; therefore it was not a printing default), so this is nothing new. Obviously cheap thin cloth will never look very dark, and I guess this is one of the reasons why the light green is more comfortable. This is obviously what Columbano Bordalo Pinheiro, the artist who presided the flag comission, had in mind. The word “dark” was used because he wanted it there, not by chance. He didn’t want a flag that would look lighter on the hoist side.
A. S. Marques, 25 Nov 1998

Wheel-like sphere

wrong flag
image by António Martins, 20 Oct 2003

I got this from a toy packaging with multi-language instructions: the portuguese national flag in a fair enough arragement of both main panels (approx. 2+3 instead of the frequent mistakes 1+1 or 1+2), but quite amiss about the central emblem:

In place of the armilary sphere a wheel like contraption, with a circular rim and eight rays converging to the center; on it a shield, indeed white and bordered red but without the castles and with the 1+2+1 escutcheons replaced by a single couped cross.

This is an acceptable simplification, perhaps even satisfactory for the non-portuguese and the non-vexillologist/heraldist. But the same packaging had also a spanish national flag with a lot more of accurate detail (the only obvious mistake being in the Leon quarter).

This means that whover could find clipart a decent spanish national flag could not found for a portuguese one — the Portuguese Government made a mistake in 1911 by accepting for the new national flag such an overtly complex design (and, unlike the spanish case, unsimplifiable), by never supporting and publicizing clear specifications, they have been worseing that mistake ever since.

António Martins, 20 Oct 2003