Last modified: 2011-06-10 by ian macdonald
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by Jaume Ollé
First hoisted 6 November 1836
This flag was the basis for the current flag of
Rio Grande do Sul.
António Martins, 10 December 1999
In volume 8, pp. 345-46 of his History of the Great Revolution, Alfredo Varella relates the first
hoisting of the flag of the Rio Grande Republic on 6 November 1836, in the Farrapo capital of Piratini:
The citizens of the new sovereign state, by mutual agreement, proceeded in a jubilant column to the only church in the vicinity, which was still unfinished, with a great deal of excitement and commotion. At their head marched the imposing figure of Joaquim Teixeira Nunes, major of the corps of lancers, who had the honorable duty of carrying the first flag of free Rio Grande. Like the archangel of the divine Milton, the staff almost shone after the new ensign unfurled and extended; it waves aloft as it catches the breeze, it waves and shines like a meteor in the dark heavens. The republican flag appears in public at last, the one Zambeccari designed years before, in Buenos Aires, at the behest of his Continentist friends.Tito Livio Zambeccari was an Italian painter and Carbonaro who, after having been exiled to Spain in 1823, found his way to South America and got involved in assorted revolutions there, including the Farroupilha Revolt. The Continentists were members of a radical Masonic lodge called "El Continentino" in Buenos Aires. Besides Zambeccari, the basic design of the flag has also been attributed to one of the Farrapo leaders, a priest known as Father Francisco das Chagas, who had proposed such a tricolor with a white field on the center depicting a bullock, a cowboy in the process of tying it, and an erva-mate tree. According to this school of thought, the leaders of the revolt rejected the central emblem but accepted the plain tricolor.
In any case, the design of this flag was adopted on 12 November as the "arms" of the Rio Grande Republic. Some historians contend that this act only adopted arms, not a flag, but the terms of the decree are more appropriate to describing a flag: "The coat of arms of the Rio-Grandense state will henceforth be in the form of a square divided into three colors, arranged thus: The upper part next to the staff [haste] green, formed by an isosceles triangle whose hypotenuse will be parallel to the diagonal of the square. The center scarlet, formed by a hexagon determined by the hypotenuses of the first triangle and another of the same size, symmetrically arranged, of gold, which will form the lower part."
Whatever the intent of the decree, there can be no doubt that it was used as a flag, since several months later the following report was received at the imperial court in Rio: "The republicans have adopted a tricolor flag, green and yellow at the extremities and red in the center. We believe the green is for hope of maintaining their independence; yellow a sign of firmness and resolution in their plans; and the red a notice that they will fire on anyone who tries to tries to impede them." Other accounts say the green and yellow were intended to represent the Brazilian colors, separated by a red stripe symbolizing the blood the Farrapos are prepared to shed for their cause, while yet others ascribe to them a Masonic significance.
Although the image above shows the flag rectangular rather than square, as most historians interpret
the decree on the arms. I think it's adequate nevertheless for three reasons: (1) the decree does deal
with "arms" and shouldn't be presumed to be defining the ratio of the flag; (2) I'm not convinced that
people in 1836 used the term "square" or quadrado with the same precision we do today--certainly U.S.
documents are full of references to "square" flags meaning only that they were rectangular, i.e.,
with square corners, rather than tapered or swallowtailed; and (3) there are contemporary
pictures of non-square Farrapo flags.
Joseph McMillan, 12 September 2002
Accoding to Flagscan 55, the flag preserved in the Museum of the Riograndense
Republic has a little-known difference from later ones: the central diagonal stripe is
centered between the two corners [forming a hexagon rather than a parallelogram as in the modern state flag].
Jaume Ollé, 17 September 2002
image by Jaume Ollé
Flagscan give the colors yellow, red, and green. I don't have dates on this, nor know if it is, perhaps,
a 180 degree rotation of the flag.
Jaume Ollé, 17 September 2002
The lenço farroupilha, the scarf used by the Farrapos, shows the flag
green-red-yellow, reading from upper hoist to lower fly. It does appear to show the stripe centered at the corners,
which is an interesting observation. The November 1836 decree on the "arms" also specifies the green is next to
the staff. I think Flagscan must be mistaken on the sequence of colors, or perhaps shows the flag
inverted and reversed or something.
Joseph McMillan, 17 September 2002
Klauss Erich Klein, "Bandeiras
Históricas," also gives the flag the same as Flagscan, with yellow in the upper
hoist and green in the lower fly.
Jaume Ollé, 21 September 2002
I would still stand by the sequence given in contemporary sources--the Farroupilha scarf,
the text of the decree on the "arms," and the government report on the flag. Also, when the flag
was revived as a party symbol in the 1880s and as a state flag in 1891, there still would have been living
Farrapo veterans from the 1840s who would (I'd think) lodge a protest
if the revived flag had the stripes in the wrong order.
Joseph McMillan, 23 September 2002
The flag shown above did not exist. A real variant, dated 1836, can be found at the
website of the Movement
for the Independence of the Pampa, reproduced from Alfredo Varela's book Res Avíta
(1935), page 254.
"Salini," 2 October 2003
The Movimento pela
Independência do Pampa website
http://pampa.cjb.net/ now leads to
http://www.pampalivre.info. They use the Rio Grande do Sul state flag
without charge as their main graphic, presumably as representation of the Rio
Grande Republic flag. According to our pages, that flag was slightly different,
and what they use is the flag Jaume Ollé mentions as the first flag of the state
of Rio Grande do Sul. He does mention it's a design from 1835, though, which
would suggest it's supposed to be the same as the flag of the republic.
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 7 October 2008
The independent Rio Grande Republic was declared on 11 September 1836, slightly more than a year after the
Farroupilha Revolution (from farrapo=ragamuffin) broke out with the deposing of the president of
the Province of Rio Grande do Sul by republican forces led by Bento Gonçalves. The rebellion was led
by landowners, strongly influenced by the Freemasons, who were dissatisfied with the regency government,
economic problems in the cattle industry, and particularly what they saw as Rio de Janeiro's attempts to exert
control over the remote southern provinces of the empire. In 1839, the farroupilha movement spread
to the Province of Santa Catarina. After a 10-year war, the independent republic
was finally crushed when Marshal Luis Alves de Lime e Silva, later Duque de Caxias (and the hero of
the Brazilian Army) defeated the rebels and induced their leaders to sign the Peace of Ponche Verde on
25 February 1845.
Joseph McMillan, 6 July 2001
The above information is drawn from a number of sources, including: