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MACAO  (A-MA-GAU) MEANING “GULF OF THE GODDESS A-MA”, IS SITUATED at the Lingding Yang Estuary in Southern China, 104 km south-east of Kanton and only 60 km south-west of Hong Kong. The Portuguese payed a yearly rent of 500 tael to the Chinese government from 1557 until 1884. Macao was  a part of the Portuguese vice-kingdom of Goa until 1844 and was united with Timor from 1844 until 1896. After that year it was an autonomous colony, and from 1951 an overseas province of Portugal. The Portuguese presence  was accepted by China in 1887. The handover of the province took place on the 20th of December 1999




Achievement of Macao city on S. Paulo do Monte Fort dated ANNO DNI 1626


The oldest known coat of arms of Macau is the one that is carved in granite and placed on the entrance of the Fortress of S. Paulo do Monte (originally called Nossa Senhora do Monte). It dates from 1626, the year of completion of the Fortress works.

"Above the entrance gate of the south wall of this fortress was a stone carved 1 square meter in area and a triangular pediment on top, but this slab was removed and is presently on the inner wall facing the gate of the access ramp to the upper terrace. The nails used to support the slab can still be seen above the gate "

The triangular pediment has the carved figure of St. Paul, Patron on its tympan. The rectangular stone that lies below consists essentially of a shield of the arms of Portugal, surmounted by a crown topped with a cross. The shield is flanked by two standing cherubs, dressed only in a swirling band, set on an easel. The angel on the left flaunts the cross of Christ on the very slight redoubt, and, symmetrically, the angel on the right balances the armillary sphere surmounted by a star.


The news that the Portuguese House of Braganza had regained control of the Crown from the Spanish Habsburgs in 1640, took two years to reach Macau, arriving in 1642. A ten week celebration ensued, and despite its new-found poverty, Macau sent gifts to the new King João IV along with expressions of loyalty. In return, in 1654, the title of Loyal was conferred to the Senate of Macau by D. João IV. And in the name of the king, Captain General Joao de Souza Pereira had the new dignity written on a sign at the entrance of the Leal Senado.


The full title awarded to Macau by King Joao IV is still displayed to this day inside the Leal Senado, though the building and emblem itself date from the 19th Century


The title of honour conferred to the Senate of Macao, 1654


In the Palace of Independence before its purchase by the Almada family, (holder of the title of Count of Almada and Abranches). The palace was known as Almada Palace, Palace of the Rossio or Palace of S. Domingos.


The inscrption reads:



That is:

CITY OF GOD'S NAME THERE IS NO OTHER AS LOYAL this title given in the name of the king our lord sir John IV by the captain general of this square John de Souza Pereira for the great loyalty of its citizens in 1654


Achievement of the Loyal Senate, 1810


“Coat of arms of the city of Macao" in an article entitled “Macao” in the magazine “Archivo Historico de Portugal: narrativa da fundação das cidades e villas do reino, seus brazões d´armas, etc.” (narrative of the foundation of the cities and towns of the kingdom, its coats of arms &c), published in the year 1890 pp. 154-156 (1)


Arms: Portugal

Crown: a crown of five leaves

Supporters: Two angels kneeling, the dexter suporting a cross of the Order of Christ, the sinister an armillary sphere.


Brasão d´armas de macau

Coat of arms of Macau, 1890


“The city of Macao has a coat of arms representing the Portuguese royal arms in a  silver shield, surrounded by the inscription “CIDADE DE NOME DE DEUS NÃO HA OUTRA MAIS LEAL” (City of God's name there is none other more loyal. The etymology of the name of Macao comes from the two Chinese words Ama and Cau. The first designates the idol of a pagoda, which had been there since ancient times. the second one means harbour. When the Portuguese as soon as they had settled there  began to call the site Amacau, they gave the city the same name with a little difference. " [1]



Colonia de Macau



We can expect that the symbols used by the Macao-settlers were the same as those used by the Estado da India. They consisted of the royal Portuguese arms and the symbol of the Portuguese empire. See: Moçambique


In 1932 a coat of arms for the colony was designed  inspired by the early 19th century achievement. It is:

Arms of Macau province, 1932


Arms: Argent, an achievement of Portugal with a mural crown supported by two kneeling angels and with the motto CIDADE DE SANTO  NOME DE  DEUS DE MACAU  [2]






Coat of arms of Macao created in June 1932 at the request of the Agency of the Colonies, and by assignment of Mr. Afonso Dornelas of the Portuguese Institute of Heraldry, elaborated in June of 1932.

Arms: Azure a chinese dragon Vert and Gules, holding a shield Azure, five besants Argent 2, 1 and 2. And a bordure Or, five escutcheons Azure, five besants Argent 2, 1 and 2 alternating whit five crosses of the Order of Christ Gules

Crown: A mural cxrow of five towers, the walls  charged with four shields of the Order of Christ.

Motto: MACAU in red lettering on a white listel.


On the 8th of May 1935 another coat of arms was adopted for the colony. It consisted of a a tierced shield like the arms of the other provinces, with in the sinister half the symbol for Macao: a golden dragon on a blue field, supporting a blue shield with five silver roundels. The main shield was placed on a crowned armillary-sphere with the word MACAU on a ribbon underneath. This same  achievement was used for the province.

From 1951-1976 the name on the listel was changed into PROVÍN. PORTUGUESA DE MACAU  and from 1976-1999  into GOVERNO DE MACAU and briefly MACAU.


Macao Special Administrative Region

华人民共和国 行政区



The Seal


Six years before the handover of Macao to China in 1999, a new seal and flag were adopted for the region.


The seal was described in art. 10 of the “Basic Law of the Macao Special Administrative Region of the People' s Republic of China”, adopted by the Eighth National People's Congress at its First Session on 31 March 1993. This article reads:


Article 10 Apart from displaying the national flag and national emblem of the People's Republic of China, the Macao Special Administrative Region may also use a regional flag and regional emblem.

The regional flag of the Macao Special Administrative Region is green with five yellow stars, a lotus flower, a bridge and the sea.

The regional emblem of the Macao Special Administrative Region is composed of five stars, a lotus flower, a bridge and the sea, encircled by the words "Macao Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China" in Chinese and "MACAU" in Portuguese.


The Coat of Arms of the Macao Special Administrative Region was formalized on 20 December 1999 when Macao's sovereignty was transferred from Portugal to the People's Republic of China. The emblem is now officially referred to as the "Regional Emblem" of Macao.


The regional emblem presents the same design of other regional elements as the MSAR Flag, but in a circular configuration. The white outer ring is shown with the legend of the official name of the territory in traditional Chinese characters (as opposed to the simplified form): "华人民共和国 行政区" (Macao Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China) and in Portuguese in the abbreviated form, "Macau".


The lotus is Macao's floral emblem. The bridge is the Nobre Governador Carvalho Bridge, linking the Macao Peninsula and the island of Taipa. It is one of the most characteristic landmarks of the territory.

The water below the lotus and the bridge symbolises Macau's position as a port and its importance for the territory. The five five-pointed stars repeat the stars on the flag of the People's Republic of China, symbolising the relationship of Macau with the motherland.


The Flag


The Ancient Flag of the Portuguese Macao Government


Before the handover of Macau to the People's Republic of China by the Portuguese in 1999, Macao used only the Portuguese flag.

Also there was a Macau flag for the local government, the Concelho de Macau. This flag was light blue with the coat of arms of the Colony and province of Macao in the middle.

A flag for the colony of Macau, based on a similar design, was proposed in 1967 but was never adopted. This design can be seen in artworks symbolizing colonial Portugal.

A flag for the city of Macau (one of the two cities in the colony), showed a Portuguese-styled coat-of-arms and two angels as heraldic supporters. This coat of arms can be seen on Macao-coins minted in 1990. The arms are the arms of the king of Portugal, crowned with a crown of five leaves. The arms are supported by two kneeling angels, the one of the dexter upholding a staff with a greek cross, the one on the sinister upholding a staff with an armillary-sphere.   Reportedly, this was the flag used at the 1999 handover ceremony.


macau flag



The official state flag under the Portuguese administration was that of Portugal. However, some semi-official flags came into use after 1976, when a form of autonomy was granted to the territory. For example, a government flag is known, blue with the local emblem (in a slightly modified version) granted in 1935. It often has represented Macao in international sporting events. The blue field was traditionally that of the civic banner of the capital (Cidade de Santo Nome de Deus de Macau), on which was depicted the Portuguese coat of arms held by two angels.


One of the three flags that existed inside the Leal Senado can be seen in the Independence Palace in Lisbon (Largo S. Domingos, Portas de Sto Antão) [3]


The New Flag

The Macao flag is light green with a lotus flower above the stylized Nobre Governador Carvalho Bridge and water in white, beneath an arc of five gold, five-pointed stars: the one in the middle the largest.


Macau Flag on the Handover to China

On March 8, 1998, the Xinhua news agency (China) ran a feature about the designer of the Macao flag.

“The flag selected to represent Macao after its re-integration into China was designed by Xiao Hong, a professor of arts and crafts at the Henan University. Xiao's entry was just one of over 1,000 considered for the new design. Xiao designed the flag after reading a 600-word tourist guide on Macao.

The design was further improved before being approved in 1993. It was not until three years after the flag was adopted that he first visited Macao.

A deputy in the Henan 163-member delegation to the ninth National People's Congress (NPC), he became one of the more popular members when the deputies learned he was the designer of the flag.


Flag approved 1993-03-31




Decree-Law No. 43125, enacted on 19  August 19, 1960 by the then Government of Macao, created the Judicial Police Inspectorate to centralize overseas services (at that time extensive to Macao) for investigation and preparatory instruction in order to organize in the best way, and from the principles enshrined in the Constitution of the Portuguese Republic and in criminal procedural laws, the defense of society against crime. This Inspectorate was headed by a Deputy Inspector, who was to carry out cumulatively the duties of the Deputy Directors and Inspectors of the Judicial Police of Portugal, and the place of Deputy Inspector should be filled by law graduates with professional experience or by magistrates of the Ministry Public service commission.

On October 12, 1971, the Inspection was upgraded to a police department by Decree-Law No. 430/71. In addition to raising the Inspectorate to the Deputy Directorate, the deputy inspector's office was replaced by a deputy director and an inspector's post was created. The place of deputy director was exercised on commission of service by magistrates of the Public Ministry.



(no higher resolution available)


Arms: Gules a chinese dragon Or, holding the arms of Portugal.

Crest: On a helmet to the dexter lambrequined Azure and Argent, the lighthouse of Macau Or.

Lighthouse of Macau (built 1864-’65) Æ




Sleeve Patch


On 19 December 1975, the Deputy Directorate of the Judicial Police of Macao was elevated by Decree-Law no. 705/75 to the Board of Directors, constituted in the administrative dependency of the Governor and guided by the Portuguese Republic's attorney in the operation of criminal proceedings. In order to make explicit the functioning of the Macao Judicial Police Directorate, the Macao Legislative Assembly enacted Law No. 19/79 of 4 August, which defined the Organic Law of the Macao Judicial Police. According to this organic law, the Directorate of the Judicial Police was a police service, charged with the prevention, criminal investigation and coadjuvation of the judicial authorities, organized hierarchically in the dependence of the Governor, guided by the Public Prosecutor's Office in the criminal investigation. accusation deducted. The place of director of the Judicial Police should be provided among the judicial magistrates or those of the Public Prosecutor's Office. The posts of deputy director were chosen from among the judicial magistrates or the public prosecutor by the governor of Macao, or from among 1st class inspectors, or from among law graduates, with at least 5 years of legal work experience, pursuant to Decree-Law no. 34/86 / M approved in 1986.






After 1999, the Policia Judiciária became the Secretariat of Security. With regard to criminal investigation proceedings, these are the responsibility of the Public Prosecution Service.



Direcção dos Serviços das Forças de Segurança de Macau

 (Board of directors of the Security  Forces of Macao)


Arms: Azure, a Chinese dragon Or with flames Gules and clouds Argent holding the emblem of Macau. In chief  澳門保安部隊  事務局 ands in base D S F S M

Crest: On a helmet to the sinister Argent, lambrequined Or and Azure, the Lighthouse of Macau proper



The motto says: You will serve with diligent step.


The Macau Security Force (澳門保安部隊; Àomén Bǎoān Bùduì; Forças de Segurança de Macau) is Macau's public securityservice under the Secretariat for Security, responsible for handling government activities ranging from law enforcement to public safety.

On December 20, 1999, the various police force branches of Macau (Security Forces of Macau and Judiciary Police), under the jurisdiction of Security and Justice departments (except the customs police, who were reassigned to the Financial Service Department) were assigned to the Forças de Segurança de Macau (FSM, Macau Security Force), under the supervision of the secretary of security (security department). At the time of the handover of Macau to the People's Republic of China, plans were in place to modernize the police force with the goal of better positioning the force to combat organized crime and to stop illegal immigration.



Corpo de Polícia de Segurança Pública Macau

Sleeve patch



Escola Superior das Forças de Segurança de Macau (ESFSM)

High School of the Security Services of Macau


The motto means: To know better to serve better.



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 © Hubert de Vries  2018-12-16




[1]  “Archivo Historico de Portugal: narrative of the foundation of the cities and towns of the kingdom, their arms of arms, etc.", 1890.

These arms also appear in :1 - Afonso Dornellas, Brasões das Villas e Cidades de Portugal, end of the XVIII century 2 - Almeida Langhans, in "Armorial do Ultramar Português; Agência Geral do Ultramar, 2 vols. 1966;

[2] Abr-Jul 1932