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Paraguay / Paraguái; Republic of Paraguay

Last modified: 2009-01-17 by francisco gregoric
Keywords: paraguay | seal | phrygian cap | different reverse | treasury | lion | star: 5 points (yellow) | simplification | stylization | license plate |
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Paraguay flag (obv.)
image by Gerard van der Vaart, 27 Aug 1999

See also:

Description of the flag

Album 2000 [pay00] says:

National Flag. CSW/CSW 3:5 obverse/reverse
Željko Heimer, 25 Oct 2002

Album’s 1995 recapitulative issue [pie95] says «National Flag, Naval and Merchant Ensign. 3:5 (size of emblem 2/9 hoist)» Already showing the current design of the emblem. This is the only source that I can think of giving the size of the emblem. However, 2/9 seems a bit too small — it seems larger in the images of all other in sources..
Željko Heimer, 27 Oct 2002

The disc around the star should have the same blue shade as the blue stripe of the flag.
Ivan Sache, 22 Oct 1999

Differences from previous versions

[Comparing with the 1988-1990 vesion,] there is in fact a simplified version of the Paraguayan flag. That flag is in use at least since 1991. We have photocopy of a military map of Paraguay which shows the redesigned symbols of the flag. The map was edited in 1991. I was informed that the flag was redesigned withouth special sanction as it was only an artistic modification of the two symbols on either side. And it was not known when the redesigned flag was introduced (I assume it came into use step by step). By the way, the flag seems to have new proportions of 3:5, as I received with the military map a photograph of the new flag which is in that dimensions.
Ralf Stelter, 17 Jul 1999

The reverse (back side)

Paraguayan flag (rev.)
image by Gerard van der Vaart, 27 Aug 1999
two-sided reverse sinister

The backside is different from the frontside. It bears the Treasury Seal of Paraguay. It shows a phrygian cap on the top of a pole.
Giuseppe Bottasini, 29 Aug 1995

Is there any reason why the Treasury seal, specifically, was chosen for the reverse (apart from the desire for its elements)?
Nathan Lamm, 08 Mar 2002

I am in possession of the current national flag of Paraguay, which shows the same on each side, a wreath around a gold star of state, with the words around the exterior of the wreath: "REPUBLICA DEL PARAGUAY" (which reads backwards on one side).
John Crosby, 24 May 2001

Origin and symbolism of the flag

White, blue and red flags were used by Paraguayan troops in 1806 wen they went to the defense of Buenos Aires during the British invasion. The earmiest mention of a red-white-blue tricolor in Paraguay seems to date from 15 August 1812. This bore on one side the arms of the capital city, Asunción, and on the other those of the King of Spain. The Star of May in the national arms recalls the date of independence, 14 May 1811. Defense of national liberty is symbolized by the lion guarding the liberty cap on the Treasury seal whose motto proclaims «Peace and Justice».
Ivan Sache, 20 Oct 1999, quoting [smi75b]

The colors were influenced by French Tricolore, which had become a symbol of liberation. A number of variant designs [vd. also here] existed prior to the current design, which was regularized in 1842. The practice of having a separate emblem on each side is dating from the time of José de Francia, in power from 1814-1840.
Ivan Sache, 20 Oct 1999, quoting [udk97]

The official symbolism of the flag is very rich. To mention only colour symbolism, red stands for patriotism, courage, heroism, equality and justice; white for purity, firmness, union and peace; and blue for tranquillity, love, knowledge, verity and liberty.
Ivan Sache, 20 Oct 1999, quoting [eun]

Emblems on the flag

The coat of arms was adopted in 1812 (like the flag)! But it was not precisely described in all its elements. In 1823 it was modified by Dr. Francia. It was used even after his death until 1842. Since 1828 the bishopric Paraguay had used a differing version. In 1842 the symbols of Paraguay were described exactly for the first time. We know that the coats of arms before had looked similar [alv8]. Possibly the bishopric had used two trees? The “makers” of the 1842 arms said nothing about all their earlier prototypes.
Ralf Stelter, 23 Jan 2001

The “classical” emblem (used in all flags of 1842-1990), is noted in several variations, of which is most notable difference in the field around the star on the obverse, with three main types:

  • simple white
  • light blue and golden base with shadow
  • golden rays emanating from the star
Similar differences may be observed on the reverse, too. All the differences were, as far as I understand not prescribed, but were developed de facto in practice in the 150 years of the useage.
Željko Heimer, 30 Oct 2002

Exact specifications adopted in 1967

Even official Paraguayan flagmakers and flag designers and ministers and and and misinterpreted the Paraguayan arms. You know the drawings in [ped70], [smi75b] and [smi80] which all showed correct flag and arms, as that were the emblems in use. I provided two designs (obverse and reverse) of the flag as it is used now and added that it came in use about 1990 without special sanction, as there were only minor graphic changes to the coat of arms. What I did not know: the flag and the coat of arms were introduced in 1967, when each element was pecisely described. But using exactly the elements of the 1842’s arms! They only gave the arms a new interpretation «as there were uncountable variations until now».
Ralf Stelter, 23 Jan 2001

Simplified and stylized variants

Simplified emblem

When the flag is depicted on smaller items (souvenirs, etc.) sometimes the seal is reduced to a disk or circle; I’ve seen these both blue and black. It depends on the material and the size of the item. If I recall correctly, the circle is more common, but a solid disk version is used on really small items. (Obviously, the disk/circle appears in the white band.)
Terence Martin, 04 Aug 2004

I’ve never seen these simplifications actually used as flags, only as decorations on objects.
Terence Martin, 10 Aug 2004

Plain triband

plain triband
image by António Martins, 16 Jan 2006

While red/white/blue striping is common as a decorative theme, once a cloth is attached to a stick, it always had the seal on it. It is rarely totally omitted. (My last visit to Paraguay was in 1995, so things may have changed.)
Terence Martin, 04 Aug 2004

Paraguay introduced new license plates around 2002. They have the flag at upper left and an emblem at upper right. The flag does not have the emblem, it is a plain tricolor. (See photo by Osvaldo Fernández)
Olav Arne Brekke, 30 Jan 2005

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