This page is part of © FOTW Flags Of The World website

Maranhão (Brazil)

Last modified: 2002-11-02 by
Keywords: maranhão | brazil | star (white) | stripes: 9 | canton (blue) |
Links: FOTW homepage | search | disclaimer and copyright | | mirrors

[Flag of Maranhão (Brazil)] 2:3 by Joseph McMillan
Adopted 21 December 1889; reinstated 28 July 1947

See also:

Flag of the State of Maranhão

According to the poet Joaquim de Souza Andrade (Sousandrade), who created the flag, the colors of the stripes represent the racial fusion of the Brazilian ethnic groups. The white star with the blue background symbolizes Maranhão. It is the same Beta of Scorpio that appears on the Brazilian flag.
Zeljko Heimer, 13 March 1996

The bars represent the racial fusion of the people of Maranhão and of Brazil as a whole (Indians, whites, and and blacks); the blue field represents the sky.
Jaume Ollé, 28 June 1996

The flag of the State of Maranhão was instituted by decree number 6, of 21 December 1889. It is made up of nine interspersed horizontal stripes--three red, four white, and two black--with a blue square in the upper corner adjoining the lance [i.e., in the upper hoist], and having on the center [of the blue square] a white five pointed star. The square occupies one-third of the flag's length and half its width.
Dov Gutterman, 21 January 1999

Official information on the Maranhão flag is at
"Elso," 13 February 2000

The Maranhão state flag dates back to barely a month after the proclamation of the republic. One point to clarify is that the star doesn't just signify Maranhão in general but Maranhão in the sky of Brazil, that is, as a state of the Brazilian federation, according to, citing the state government. Unlike most Brazilian state flags, the ratio of this one is 2:3 rather than 7:10, which is implicit in the legal description, according to which the square canton is one-half the hoist and one-third the fly. It is also explicitly provided in the model attached to the 1889 decree, according to Arthur Luponi, "Flags of the States of Brazil: Maranhão," Flag Bulletin 17:118-121. Luponi also notes that, like other state flags, this one was made illegal by the 10 November 1937 federal Constitution, a provision that was enforced in Maranhão by the federal interventor (who took over the powers of the elected state government under the Vargas dictatorship) on 27 November 1937. The ban was lifted on 29 October 1945 and the flag and other state symbols were reinstated in their pre-1937 form by the new state Constitution of 28 July 1947. The current law on the flag is law no. 3210 of 19 November 1971, but it did not change the 1889 design. Luponi mentions as his main source Mário Martins Merrilles, Símbolos nacionais do Brasil e estaduais do Maranhão (Rio de Janeiro: CEA, 1972).
Joseph McMillan, 26 August 2002

19th Century Merchant Ship Pennant

19th Century Ship Distinguishing Pennant, Maranhão (Brazil)by Joseph McMillan

Some states had old maritime ensigns in the 19th century, including Maranhão.
Jaume Ollé, 8 December 1999

The French Navy's Album de Pavillons of 1858 shows a set of galhardetes (normally translated pennants) flown by Brazilian merchant ships to indicate their province of origin. The galhardetes were rectangular, approximately 1:6. They were all simple geometric patterns, more or less like signal flags.
Joseph McMillan, 17 April 2001