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The Portuguese

Democratic Republic East Timor

Province Timor Timur


República Democrática de Timor Leste



Falintil - FDTL






The first Europeans to arrive in the area were the Portuguese, who landed near modern Pante Macassar. In 1556 a group of Dominican friars established their missionary work in the area. In 1640  the Dutch V.O.C. arrived on the island and settled in the west. The Portuguese-Dutch border on the island was established in 1859 and again in 1893 but was ratified only  in 1914.

East Timor was usually governed as a part of Portuguese India or Macao. In 1859, after the Dutch-Portuguese Treaty it became a Portuguese colony and was promoted to a Portuguese Province on 11 June 1950. In 1975, as a result of the Carnation Revolution (Revolução dos Cravos) of 25 April, three independence movements sprang up. A Democratic Republic of East-Timor was proclaimed on 28 November 1975 by the Frente Revolucionaria de Timor-Leste Independente (Fretilin) but on the following 7 December Indonesian troops invaded the country. On 17 July 1976 East Timor was annexated by Indonesia and became its 27th province with the name of Timor Timur.

The Fretilin, directed by Xanana Gusmao fought a guerilla against Indonesian domination and was supported by U.N. (12 December 1975, 4 November 1982) and Portuguese resolutions (17 juli 1986).

After Indonesia was forced by UN troops to leave the country in 1999 the Indonesian army untertook punitive expeditions which devastated the country. On 20 May 2002 the UN Interim Government was replaced by secretary-general Kofi Anan by a sovereign government in Dili. Xanana Gusmao became its first president .




The Portuguese



The arms of Portugal and the arms of the Portuguese Empire were also valid on Portuguese Timor.

In 1933 the arms of Portugal for the Province of Timor were as follows:


Província Timor [1]


In 1933 a coat of arms for the colony was designed:

Arms: Girony of eight pieces Sable and Argent, a lily-cross counterchanged; within a bordure Or, charged with five quinas escutcheons alternating with five crosses of the Order of Christ.

Crown: A portuguese mural crown of five towers, Or

Motto: TIMOR


On 8 May 1935 an achievement for the colony was adopted. It is:


Arms: tierced embowed, the first of the quinas of Portugal, the second girony of eight pieces Sable and Argent, a lily-cross counterchanged charged with an escutcheon Azure, five balls Argent; the base barry wavy Argent and Vert.

Crown: A mural crown of five towers charged with an armillary-sphere Gules, on the walls four shields of the arms of the Order of Christ.

Supporter: An armillary-sphere Or. [2]

Coat of arms of Portuguese Timor 1935-1975


The arms of Portuguese Timor had the same format as the other Portuguese colonies (later: overseas provinces) the territory being represented by the black and white Dominican cross (a recognition of the role played by the Dominican Order in converting the Timorese population to Catholicism). [3]

The use of the achievement was continued for the Portuguese Province Overseas. The legend on the ribbon was changed into: PROVÍN. PORTUGUESA DE TIMOR.



Dominican Friars had the right to combine their personal arms with a black-and- white quartered lily-cross.



Arms of the Dominican Order, on the ceiling of the stairway in the Grand Inquisitor's Palace, Birgu (Vittoriosa).  Probably 18th c.  A room in the same palace contains the coats of arms of the 63 Grand Inquisitors of Malta from 1575 to 1798.



Democratic Republic of East Timor





Flag of the Democratic Republic of East Timor, hoisted on 28 of November 1975.


The flag is red with a equilateral yellow triangle at the mast end, charged with a lower black triangle with a white five-pointed star.

The flag was only used officially for a few days as the Indonesian Army invaded East Timor on the following 7 December.


No emblem or seal of the First Republic are known.


Province Timor Timur





An achievement for the Indonesian Propinsi Timor Timur appeared in 1983 but no decree about its adoption is available. The achievement was published on a series of postage stamps of that year. It is in the Indonesian tradition. It is:


Arms: Azure, a Timorese crown proper.

Crest: An escutcheon Azure, a five-pointed star Or.

Garland: An ear of rice with 17 grains and a branch of cotton with seven flowers, in base a crescent (kaibauk) Or with the name TIMOR TIMUR in red lettering, and a sceptre and a sword in saltire; all on a disc of the national colors of Indonesia.

Motto: MOURI OTAS, HOURI WAIA,  OAU TIMUR ASSIWAIA on a red scroll above the arms.

Compartment: A yellow embassy-shield.




Museu do Oriente - Lisbon, Portugal.


A kaibauk is a traditional Timorese symbol of authority of the Liurai (Timorese reguli), worn as a crown  by men as well as by women. It is a silver crescent  and sometimes there is another crescent above it. The crescent is a picture of the horns of a waterbuffalo (Bubalus arnee - Bovidæ). The Kaibauk originates in ancient Timorese animistic religion.





The Association of Timorese Social Democrats was established on 20 May 1974. On 11 September 1974 the ATSD was transformed in the Frente Revolucionaria de Timor-Leste Independente (FRETILIN) to unite all East-Timorese.

On 28 November 1975 the FRETILIN unilaterally declared Timor Leste as an independent nation. In the next years the FRETILIN organized the resistance against Indonesian occupation which resulted into independence in 2002.

The flag of FRETILIN was of three breathes red, yellow and red, the name of the organisation in the yellow breath, and a black mast-end with a white five-pointed star. Some different versions of this flag are known.


The seal shows a five-pointed star and a fist holding a noose in base, surrounded by the legend FRENTE REVOLUCIONÁRIA DO TIMOR LESTE INDEPENDENTE  and a rope.

A colored version shows the field black, the star white, the hand yellow, the noose red, the ring yellow with black lettering and the rope red. 



Seal of the FRETILIN, about 1987 [4]


United Nations Transitional Administration



Seal of East Timor during UNTAET administration


Seal of East Timor during UNTAET administration (25.10.1999-20.05.2002)


The seal used by the Second Transitional Administration depicted the silhouette of Timor Island, a lizard, traditional head-dress (kaibauk) and tais patterns. The seal included the words “Timor Lorosa’e” and “Governu” in tatun or “Timor Leste” and “Govorno” in Portuguese.

A proposal for a national emblem was published by The La’o Hamutuk Bulletin. It consisted of the outline of Mount Ramelau charged with a pointed chevron and a lizard, and a fourteen-pointed sun rising behind it. [5]




República Democrática de Timor-Leste 



The República Democrática de Timor Leste received its flag and national hymn by constitution of 22 March 2002, ratified 20 May of the same year. The flag is the flag of the first republic and is red with a yellow and a black overlapping triangle at the mast-end, the black triangle lower than the yellow one and charged with a five-pointed white star.

The red symbolizes the Struggle for Independence, yellow Colonialism, and black the Evil conquered by the white five-pointed star of Peace.

The national hymn became Pátria, Pátria Pátria, Timor Leste a nossa naço  [6].


At the same time the national emblem was adopted by law. It is:


Arms: Sable, an escutcheon Gules, edged Or,  two suriks in saltire and a spear per pale, charged with two arrows in saltire, Sable; in chief a five-pointed star Argent.

Supporter: A sun radiant of fourteen rays Or, within a ring Azure bearing the name of the Republic: REPÚBLICA DEMOCRÁTICA DE TIMOR LESTE and RDTL in black lettering, separated by two five-pointed stars Argent.

Motto: HONRA, PÁTRIA E POVO (Honour, Fatherland and People).



The arms contain the shield of the Conselho Nacional de Resistência Timorense (National Council of Timorese Resistance) founded in 1998 as the successor of the Concelho Nacional da Resistência Maubere existing since 1988. This was based on the arms of the FALINTIL.


The present coat of arms of Timor-Leste was promulgated on 17 January 2007 under the Law 02/2007. It is based on a design first used when the country unilaterally declared independence on November 28, 1975. It is:


Arms: Sable, a cogwheel Or, charged with and open book Gules, between a maize-cob and an ear of rice all Or, in chief a five-pointed star with five rays pointing downwards Argent, in base an arrow Or and a AX-47 Galaxi-rifle proper in saltire and a bow Or per fess, and a bordure Gules and Or, the width of the Gules trice as large as the Or.

Motto: Unidade, Acção, Progresso (“Unity, Action, Progress”).

Compartment: A ring Argent, edged Gules bearing the legend REPÚBLICA DEMOCRÁTICA DE TIMOR-LESTE / RDTL in red lettering.


ð See illustration in the head of this article.




The symbolism of the arms is given by the law in Section 2: “The Symbols described in the section above mean”. According to this section the meaning of the different parts is as follows:


The shield symbolizes Monte Ramelau, the highest mountain on Timor (2963 m). Its colors and four points symbolize the separation of powers (legsilative, executive and judiciary branches) and the interdependence of the public services.

The cogwheel, open book, maize-cob and ear of rice symbolize the wisdom and capacities of the people in the domains of education, culture, social justice as well as in agriculture and industry.

The star symbolizes peace and its five points symbolize the light of the generosity and honesty which lead the people to peace. The rays symbolize the light of solidarity and the determination to give peace to the whole world.

The bow and arrow and the rifle are for the centuries of struggle of the people to attain national independence and the honor and dignity of the sovereignty of the state.



The AK 47 is an assault weapon. It was designed by Mikhail Kalashnikov and came into service in 1949. It was manufactured by the Soviet Union Izhmash Mechanical Works. It has played and still plays a major role in many insurrectional movements



The motto  “Unity Action Progress” formulates the basic political and moral principles of the people and the nation.

The Compartment symbolizes the terrestrial globe, called belak in tatun, of which Timor Leste is a part. It is a symbol of national unity.


Armed Forces




Comando Territorial Independente de Timor


In the time of Portuguese administration the detachment of the Portuguese army on East Timor was the “Independent Territorial Command of Timor”.

Of this Command two coats of arms are known.



The supposedly oldest coat of arms is on the banner of the Command.  It is:


Arms: The arms of Portuguese Timor Colony

Crest: A crescent or kaibauk, six spears per pale Or and two sceptres in saltire proper.

Supporters: Two surik proper

Motto: COMANDO TERRITORIAL INDEPENDENTE DE TIMOR in black lettering on a white scroll.


The arms are on a red square surrounded by a green bordure. In the right hand upper corner and in the left hand lower corner is the Portuguese quinas. In both remaining corners is the Dominican cross charged with the escutcheon from the quinas. [7]


ï  The swords supporting the arms are a more or less correct picture of a surik as depicted here.


A second and newer coat of arms of the CTIT was probably adopted when the colony was promoted to the status of a Province Overseas. [8]




Arms: Girony of eight Sable and Argent, a lily-cross counterchanged charged with an escutcheon Azure, five balls Argent’and a bordure Gules.

Crest: On a helmet to the dexter, lambrequined Sable and Argent, a crscent Or.

Motto: FORTE E FIEL (Strong and True).


The gironny, the cross and the quinas refer to the Portuguese friars of the Vicariate of the Dominican Order in Malacca who, from the beginning and for a long time settled on the Timorese islands and kept them until they officially became a territory of the Kings of Portugal.

The red bordure symbolizes the Independent Territorial Command.

The crescent is the local symbol of authority.


The colors symbolize:

Gold: Nobility and constancy

Argent: Wealth and eloquence

Red: Bellicose ardour and strength

Blue: Zeal and loyalty

Black: Firmness and honour


Komando Pasukan Khusus


The invasion of East Timor on 7 December 1975 was conducted by the Indonesian Army Special Force Command Kopassus. The name is the abbreviation for Komando Pasukan Khusus. It is an Indonesian Army group that conducts special operations missions for the Indonesian government. The East Timor invasion was called “Seroja Operation”.




The arms of Kopassus show a bayonet upright and the word KOPASSUS.

The cap badge of the Kopassus consists of the symbols for the Navy and the Air Force charged with a bayonet upright


Afterwards Timor Timur Province was controlled by TNI Komando Daerah Militer (Kodam) IX / Udayana.



Timor Leste Defence Force



Falintil (or FALINTIL) originally began as the military wing of the political party FRETILIN of East Timor. It was established on 20 August 1975 in response to FRETILIN’s political conflict with the Timorese Democratic Union (UDT).

The coat of arms of the FALINTIL was red with two suriks (traditional Timorese swords) in saltire and a bunch of three ears of sorghum. In chief is a golden five-pointed star. Motto: PATRIA POVO (Fatherland and People).


The flag of the FALINTIL consisted of three breathes of blue, white and green, the name FALINTIL in the white breath, and a black canton over two breathes, charged with the arms.


U.N. Peace-keeping Forces



The International Force for East Timor (INTERFET) was a multinational peacekeeping taskforce, mandated by the United Nations to address the humanitarian and security crisis which took place in East Timor from 1999–2000 until the arrival of United Nations peacekeepers.




The Australian Training Support Team East Timor from 16 September 1999 until 17 August 2003 trained the members of the FALINTIL to become East Timor’s first army. Its coat of arms was:

Arms: Parted per bend Sable and Gules, a bend Vert fimbriated Or, in sinister chief five eight-pointed stars Or, and a crocodile assailant over all Vert.


Falintil-Forças de Defesa de Timor Leste



The Falintil-Forças de Defesa de Timor Leste (Tetum: Forcas Defesa Timor Lorosae, English: Timor Leste Defence Force) or FALINTIL-FDTL (often F-FDTL) is the military organisation responsible for the defence of East Timor. The F-FDTL was established in February 2001


The coat of arms of the Falintil-Forças de Defesa de Timor (Timor Leste Defence Force) or FALINTIL-FDTL (often F-FDTL) consists of the shield of the first achievement of the Republic only.




Drawing H.d.V


The Policia Nacional Timor Leste (PNTL) was established in May 2002 by the United Nations -  before sovereignty was passed to the new state - with a mandate to provide security and maintain law and order throughout the country.


The arms of the PNTL are:


Arms: Argent, a fourteen rayed sun Or, rising from a white scroll with the motto SERVIRE PROTEGER in blue lettering; in base the initials PNTL.

Garland: Palm leaves Or.


These arms are in the middle of the white and blue banner of the PNTL.


The sleeve-patch of the PNTL is:

Arms: Azure, a fourteen rayed  sun Or rising from a white scroll with the motto SERVIRE PROTEGER in blue lettering, in chief and in base the name of the service POLICIA NACIONAL TIMOR LESTE in white and yellow lettering.


ð See illustration in the head of this section.


The sun radiant  may be a reminder of the Rising Sun of the Australian Military Forces


The ancient cap-badge of the service consists of a black rectangle with a golden rim, charged with a red pair of wings and a sword upright. Below is the motto of the service on a scroll.

Its design was probably borrowed from the emblem of the Kopassus. (No picture available)


The present cap-badge consists of the arms of the service, its initials in an arch below the shield and surrounded by two palm-leaves.


The cap-badge is in yellow metal for the officers and in white metal for the lower ranks.



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© Hubert de Vries 2010-08-30. Updated 2019-03-08




[1] http://hemerotecadigital.cm-lisboa.pt/Periodicos/BoletimdaSociedadeLusoAfricana/BoletimdaSociedadeLusoAfricana.htm. Out-Dez 1933

[2] http://hemerotecadigital.cm-lisboa.pt/Periodicos/BoletimdaSociedadeLusoAfricana/BoletimdaSociedadeLusoAfricana.htm

[3]  Der Herold, 1943 pp. A3-A4. Neubecker, O.: Wappenbilder Lexicon. p. 345.

[4]  From: NRC-Handelsblad, 1987.06.06, Peter Schumacher.

[5]  The La’o Hamutuk Bulletin, Vol. 3, No. 4. May 2002.

[6]  Ibid. section 166

[7]  From: http://carloscoutinho.terraweb.biz/timor.htm.

[8]  From: http://www.exercito.pt/portal/exercito/_specific/public/allbrowsers/asp/projuallarm.asp?stage=2&arm=47


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