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Flags on a 1576 map

Last modified: 2017-11-11 by bruce berry
Keywords: portulano | dourado (fernão vaz) |
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Introduction

I have a small reproduction of an old map made by Ferna~o Vaz Dourado in 1576. This map reproduces the southeastern coastal areas of Africa, from southern Namibia to the easternmost tip of Somalia. It contains 9 reproductions of flags over those "city drawings" so common in the maps of that time. I GIFfed the flags to the best of my eye resolution (the reproduction is small and some details are not obvious), and I'll post them today and tomorrow. I named the flags with the abbreviation of the contemporary state that occupies the respective territory. When there is more than one flag in a particular country, I added n for north, s for south and w for west. Even so, some places are dubious. The filenames and descriptions are:

so-1576 - Placed in southern Somalia, near the place where today lies Mogadiscio. A triangular flag, dark red over dark yellow, with a white crescent at the hoist, vertically centered.

ke-1576 - Placed in Kenya. A deep swallowtail, dark blue, with a thin dark yellow "Scandinavian" cross. There may be something in the canton, but I'm not sure.

tz-1576n - Placed in northern Tanzania. A triangular flag, very dark red (nearly maroon), with a white crescent at the hoist.

tz-1576s - Placed in central Tanzania, in front of the islands of Zanzibar, Pemba and Mafia (may be Dar-es-Salaam). Another deep swallowtail, divided yellow over red, with two white crescents at the hoist, centered vertically in each stripe.

mz-1576n - Placed in northern Mozambique. The flag is square, yellow bordered in red, with five blue bezants disposed in saltire in the yellow square. This is evidently a portuguese flag, but one I never saw before.

mz-1576s - Placed in southern Mozambique. Another square flag, yellow bordered in blue, with a red templar cross in the yellow square. Another unknown to me Portuguese flag.

za-1576n - Placed in eastern Transvaal. The flag is like tz-1576s, except that is lighter and the colours are reversed.

za-1576s - Placed in SE South Africa or Swaziland. The flag is very similar to tz-1576n, except that this one is really maroon.

za-1576w - Placed to the south of the Orange river's mouth. The flag is identical to mz-1576n.

km-1576 - Placed in the Comoros archipelago and is yet another version of the Portuguese maritime trade flags, a yellow field with five red bezants disposed per saltire, that is, za-1576w and mz-1576n without the red border and with the bezants red instead of blue:

Are these flags really the flags used by those places at the time? Or, rephrasing the question: are these maps reliable in what concerns flag-info (they are not in what concerns geo-info, that's for sure)
Jorge Candeias, 04 Apr 1998


Map, images and scans

 
This is a scan of the reproduction of the above-referred map. You can see the placements of the various flags here
so-1576, placed in the top of the right page of the map
ke-1576, in the top of the left page. Yeah, I know, I "improved" it a little... :-)
tz-1576n, below the above :-)
tz-1576s
mz-1576n, a distinctly Portuguese flag
mz-1576s, another one
za-1576n, just like tz-1576s, only upside down
za-1576s, just like tz-1576n (weird, no?)
za-1576w, just like mz-1576n
There is yet another flag in the map, which I missed at the time. It is placed in the Comoros archipelago and is yet another version of the Portuguese maritime trade flags, a yellow field with five red bezants disposed per saltire, that is, za-1576w and mz-1576n without the red border and with the bezants red instead of blue:
km-1576, visible in the map near the left edge of the right page, vertically centered.

 
 
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