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Portuguese Colonial Municipal Flags (≅1954-1974)

Last modified: 2016-04-14 by klaus-michael schneider
Keywords: colonial | municipal | hrealdry |
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According to Durán [drn94], Portuguese overseas provinces’ municipal heraldry was developed starting in 1954-1955 (thus 15 years after a major reshuffling of metropolitan municipal heraldry), having recieved new arms (or had officialized old arms) at first the province capitals (with the golden crown previously exclusive of Lisbon), then the district capitals, and then cities and towns that the government wanted to distinguish, especially, after 1961, for colonial war bravery (in the colonists’ side, naturally).

A novelty in this colonial civic heraldry is that shield partitions were accepted. The independences, in 1975, interrupted this process that had already given arms and flags to, among others, all municipalities in São Tomé and Príncipe and Cape Verde Is., and many in Angola. The book Armorial do Ultramar Português [lgh65] shows all of these.

As for post-independence municipal flags, I have no idea: I’m quite sure that the former arms and flags were supressed, but I dont know it is was done formally, by law, or only by practical non-use. I doubt that new flags and/or arms were created, but I might be wrong. More recently, some of the old arms and flags might have been restored, but I have no info.

António Martins-Tuválkin, 08 Aug 1999

A note on portuguese colonial subnational flags, or rather the arms thereon, is that they come in two types: Older ones, usually created unofficially by local elites and brought into use before the normalization of portuguese subnational heraldry in the 1930s (which officialized these much more often that it did to its metropolitan equivalents); and much later ones, created by official state heralds and attributed in the 1940s and later to some of the colonial cities and towns.

The second type is usually much better designed with real “reborn” heraldry (massive British influence, I’d say), with clear esthetical and theoretical improvement when compared with the metropolitan arms created a couple of decades before. (One of these traits, by the way, is the frequent use of real mottoes, not of toponyms, on the motto scroll.)

The first type (Lourenço Marques, for instance) were usually pieces of tacky amateurish heraldry, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them changed at whim at least on details such as colors.

António Martins-Tuválkin, 28 Oct 2002

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