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At www.morretes.com/html/brasao.htm [link no longer active--ed.] there is lots of info, some quite interesting, including :
Symbolism (of the Coat-of-Arms)
The samnitic shield used to display the coat of arms of Morretes was the first style of shield introduced in Portugal by French influence, and was inherited by Brazilian heraldry as a reminder of the colonizing race and main creator of our nationality. The mural crown above is the universal symbol of arms of dominion. Being in silver with six towers, of which only four are visible in the drawing's perspective, classifies the represented city as of the third rank, that is, the capital of a municipality. The silver metal of the shield's field is the heraldic symbol of peace, prosperity, work, friendship and purity. The representation of the three green hills on a green base is a reminder of the name of the place, which arose the original place-name "Porto dos Tres Morretes" (Port of Three Hills), later simplified to "Morretes". The irregular silver wavy stripe, giving the idea that is rising up the hills [sic - ed.], represents the River Nhundiaquara, the liquid path of the colonizers, leading them to the bottom of the hills to a place called Porto Real (Royal Port), today Porto de Cima (Upper Port). The color green is interpreted in heraldry as the symbol of honor, courtesy, politeness, and abundance. It is the colour that symbolizes hope, which is green because it recalls the green fields in the spring, announcing a good harvest. The heraldic red sun rising from the hills symbolizes eternity, grandness, power, nobility, and magnificence. It is also the symbol of truth, for both the sun and the truth are one and alone. In heraldry, the sun is represented with human traits, bordered by a circle from which arise 16 rays, 8 straight and 8 wavy. The color red represents dedication, love for one's country and courage, qualities that are identified with the character of the first 'field clearers' (my English is missing here; if the original Portuguese word was posseiros or desbravadores, the English word is "[land] claimers" - AM) of the rough sertão (a semi-arid bush area), whose value is transmitted across the generations, finding in their present-day descendants great defenders of our freedom and our democratic institutions. In the outer ornaments, the sugar-cane and the leaf of banana-tree recall the main products of the fertile land, basis of the municipal economy. The date in the scroll refers to the foundation of the city.
Justification and Symbolism (of the Flag)
According to the tradition of Portuguese heraldry, from which we inherited the rules, municipal flags can be divided in 8, 6, 4 (quartered) or 3 fields, having the same colours that appear in the field of the shield, and having a geometric figure at the centre, charged with the municipal arms. The municipal flag of Morretes obeys these generic rules.... The arms at the center represent the municipal government and the white rectangle charged on it represents the city itself, head of the municipality. The color white is a symbol of peace, work, friendship, prosperity, and purity. The stripes that depart from the central rectangle, white charged with red stripes, symbolize the spreading of the municipal power to all areas of its territory. The color red is symbolic of (the same as above). The green quarters thus formed represent the rural areas that exist in the municipal territory. The color green is symbolic of (same as above).translated by Jorge Candeias, 8 February 1998
The Samnitic Shield : I suppose this is the one that was present on the Portuguese national flag from 1706 to 1910. Portuguese heraldry calls it precisely a "French shield." I wonder what is it called in French. "Samnitic?"? Well, that's a fancy name, all right!
António Martins, 6 March 1998
Rules : Any rules for Portuguese municipal heraldry were set and put in practice only in 1935, too late for any special influence on Brazilian heraldry. Portuguese municipal flags are either quartered (for vilas, i.e. towns) or in gyronny in eight parts (for cidades, i.e. cities). And au contraire, the colors of Portuguese municipal flags should be taken from the charges of the shield (one or two colors), not from its field. (But then again this is an often broken rule.)
António Martins, 6 March 1998