At the heart of symbolism

The flag of Brazil


Flag of Brazil

Order and Progress

The Brazilian flag was definitively adopted in 1889. The colours of the flag have been used since 1822 when the Crown Prince, Pedro of Portugal, declared Brazil independent after having fled Europe under Napoleon's rule. Its drawing was entrusted to a group of Brazilian positivists, disciples of the French philosopher Auguste Comte (1798-1857).

The green and yellow fields of the flag are said respectively to depict Brazil's rain forest and mineral resources, especially gold. When the monarchy was overthrown in 1889, the central emblem replaced the former royal arms. The celestial sphere portrays the stellar constellations over Rio de Janeiro. The stars are said to represent the Brazilian states and Federal District. The transversal motto ORDEM e PROGRESSO (Order and Progress) condenses the positivist character of Auguste Comte's doctrine. Besides, the pediment of the temple constructed in Rio de Janeiro in 1891, on the model of the Parisian Pantheon and devoted to the “religion of humanity”, carries the following words: “O AMOR POR PRINCIPIO E A ORDEM POR BASES, O PROGRESSO POR FINE” (Love as a principle and Order as the basis, Progress as the goal).

Nevertheless, questions are pending. What kind of order and progress are concerned ? Is it a matter of scientific, technical, economical or social progress ? Or a clever balance of all that ? And how should it be expressed ? Of course, these questions deserve answers but both words of the motto on the flag, written in capital letters, might also let us foresee new horizons which had not been considered by their authors. After all, the field of principle, order and progress is huge.

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