Last modified: 2008-08-09 by ian macdonald
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image by Joseph McMillan, 22 August 2006
Flag adopted by Law No 8421 of 11 May 1992; basic design by Decree No 4 of 19 November 1889
In the Brazilian Government's
is the full text of the law on the Brazilian flag and other symbols.
Guilherme Simões Reis, 6 October 1999
In Album des
Pavillons, 2000 the construction
details are given as (51+54+210+54+51):(51+144+210+144+51) which looks correct.
Željko Heimer, 21 March 2001
[in English below.]
ART. 5 - A feitura da Bandeira Nacional obedecerá às seguintes regras
ART. 5 - The construction of the national flag will conform to the following rules.
translated by Joseph McMillan, 29 August 2005
Brazilian flag historians attribute the original lozenge design, adopted for
the Kingdom of Brazil in 1822, to a French painter and designer named Jean-Baptiste Debret, who was active in
Brazil between 1816 and 1831. It is thought that the design was inspired
by the lozenges on pre-1812 Napoleonic military colors.
Joseph McMillan, 3 March 2005
I borrowed an original 1939 Flaggenbuch recently, and
I read 96:132 (=24:33, or 7.27:10) as the ratio for the Brazilian flag. Looking more closely
at the construction scheme, it started from the lozenge in the center, which had a proportion of
2:3 (72:108). The distance to the upper and lower edges and to the hoist and fly was equal all
around (12 units each), resulting in the unusual ratio of 7.27:10.
Marcus Schmöger, 20 March 2003
Federal Decree-Law no. 4545, of 31 July 1942, provided for the 7:10 ratio, stipulating that
(a) the desired width of the flag should be divided into 14 equal parts, each of
the parts being considered one module; and (b) the length would be 20 (twenty) modules.
Joseph McMillan, 3 April 2003
According to the Piraquê Club website (www.piraque.org.br), no longer on line,
on 7 September 1822, after demanding "Independence or Death," Prince Regent Pedro (later Emperor Dom
Pedro I) removed the Portuguese blue-and-white cockade from his hat and exclaimed, "From now on we will
have another ribbon-knot (laço), green and yellow. These will be the national colors."
On 18 September, Pedro signed three decrees that were the first acts of independent Brazil.
The second decree created a new national cockade: "The Brazilian national bow-knot (laço),
or cockade (tope) will be composed of the emblematic colors: green for spring and yellow for gold...."
Joseph McMillan, 15 April 2001
A site called Bandeiras do Brasil says that the Ministry of Culture specifies Pantone 356 CV (green), 3945CV (yellow), and 286CV (blue) as the official colors of the Brazilian flag. The problem is that the webmaster seems to cite Flags of the World as the source of this, and we have no such information.
Among official sites, there are a couple that give Pantone and/or
CMYK values for the "mark" of the Federal Government, used on
publications and websites, stating that the colors are to be the same
as those used in the national flag. These sources do not agree
completely, so I'll cite that of the
Presidency for the Pantones. The
Ministry of Development, Industry, and External Commerce (MDIC)
uses the same Pantone values and gives CMYK equivalencies.
According to Christian Fogd Pedersen, The International Flag Book, (1979),
pp 217-8, "The symbol of the scroll and the celestial globe were inspired
by the armillary sphere in the Arms of Portugal". I am not sure about this
reference to the "arms" since I'm not familiar with the pre-1910 arms of
Portugal (other than those used on the 1830 flag). The armillary sphere
has, however and of course, been a symbol used on Portuguese flags since at
least the 17th Century.
Christopher Southworth, 6 October 2003
Yes. They both trace their common ancestry to the flag of the
Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarve, which featured an armilliary
sphere as supporter for the Portuguese coat of arms of the time, and which in turn was
apparently used earlier as a symbol of the caravelles that sailed for Brazil. So yes, our
[Portuguese and Brazilian] common history is reflected in our flags.
Jorge Candeias, 7 October 2003
The influence is not direct but via the pre-republican Brazilian flag. Like the modern Portuguese flag, the imperial Brazilian flag also had an armillary sphere on it as the central charge in the imperial coat of arms. One White Band
According to www.piraque.org.br (page no longer available), the white band across the celestial
sphere has been the object of much speculation, with some saying it represents
the ecliptic, others the celestial equator, and others the belt of the
zodiac. In fact, the white band has nothing to do with the celestial sphere,
but merely provides a place to inscribe the motto, Order and Progress,
which is attributed to the French positivist philosopher Auguste Comte,
who had many followers in Brazil, including Professor Teixeira Mendes,
who conceived the basic design of the flag.
Joseph McMillan, 12 April 2001
Unlike the stars on the American flag, each particular star on the Brazilian
flag represents one particular state.
Herman De Wael, 20 January 1998
For details on the constellations on the flag and the correspondence between the stars and the states, see Astronomy of the Brazilian Flag.
Brazilian military regulations provide for the staffs on which colors are
mounted to be covered in spiral striped cloth, green and yellow for the national
flag, other color combinations for unit flags. This custom may well be copied by
civilians as well. Many flagpoles in Brazil (the big outdoor kind) are also
painted with spiral stripes in the predominant colors of the flag flown on the
pole--green and yellow for the national flag, blue and white for the Rio state
Joe McMillan, 21 September 2004
The page entitled Simbolos Nacionais--Bandeira, Hino, Armas e Selo Nacional (National Symbols--Flag, Anthem, Arms, and National Seal] at the official Brazilian government site quotes in full the laws governing all the symbols. That for the arms says, translated into English:
The National Arms were instituted by Decree No. 4 of 19 November 1889, with alteration made by Law No. 5443 of 28 May 1968 (Annex No. 8) The making of the National Arms should conform to the proportions of 15 units of height by 14 of width and take into account the following provisions:The name on the scroll was changed from Estados Unidos do Brasil by Law No. 5389 of 22 February 1968.
I - The round shield will be composed of a sky-blue [azul-celeste] field containing five silver [prata] stars arranged in the form of the Southern Cross, with the bordure [bordura] of the field outlined in gold and charged with silver stars equal to the stars existing in the National Flag (Modification made by Law No. 8421 of 11 May 1972).
II - The shield will be placed on a star parted gyronny of ten pieces, green [sinopla] and gold, bordered by two strips, the inner red [goles] and the outer gold.
III - All placed on a sword in pale, pommelled gold, hilted blue [blau], except for the center part, which is red [goles] and contains a silver star, all upon a crown formed by a branch of coffee fruited on the dexter side and another of flowering tobacco on the sinister side, both in proper colors, tied blue [blau], the whole assembled on a splendor of gold, the contours of which form a star of 20 points.
IV - On a blue [blau] scroll, placed over the pommel of the sword, inscribed in gold the legend República Federativa do Brasil in the center, and also the phrases 15 de Novembro on the dexter end and de 1889 on the sinister end.
Knowing how (non-)promptly the stars on the national flag
were changed with the change of the actual number of the states in
Brazil, I am wondering how well the coat of arms followed the changes. This is
of particular interest since it is the main feature on the presidential
flag, too. So that flag was changed (I guess) as many times as the
coat of arms.
Željko Heimer, 21 March 2001
In the Süddeutsche Zeitung of 28 June 2002 (p. 12) there is a report on
the Brazilian coat of arms.
Evidently they are currently discussing a change in the coat of arms, more
specifically the tobacco leaves on the sinister side. Senator Jefferson Peres
(PDT) wants to replace the unhealthy tobacco with a twig of guaraná.
Marcus Schmöger, 29 June 2002