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Santa María Department, Catamarca Province, Argentina

Last modified: 2021-12-23 by rob raeside
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[Municipal flag] image by Ivan Sache, 13 September 2019
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Santa María Department

The Santa María Department (22,548 inhabitants in 2010; 5,740 km2) is located in the north-east of the Province of Catamarca, on the borders with the Provinces of Salta and Tucumán. The department is composed of the municipalities of Santa María and San José.

Santa María was the cradle of the pre-Colombian eponymous culture, characterized by urban development, stone houses and the use of pottery; the Incas imposed their cultural imprint to the area in the 25th century. The Yocabil, Tolombon, Pacioca, Colala, Ingaman, Acalian and Quilme communities opposed a fierce resistance to the Spanish colonization; they were nearly eradicated in the aftermath of the Calchaquí Wars (1534-1665). Diego de Almagro crossed Santa María in 1536, on his way to Chile; so did Diego de Rojas in 1543.

In 1618, the Society of Jesus established the mission of Santa María de los Ángeles de Yocavil on the village of Yokavil, which they promptly renamed to Santa María. Argent and copper mines were exploited in 1688 in Punta de Balasto. The town of Santa María was founded in 1710 by Captain Ambrosio Muñiz Cancinos. In 1716, Juan Cristóbal Retamozo founded the Juán Ingamana estate, today the town of San José.

In 1782, the territory was incorporated to the Intendencia of Salta del Tucumán, as the District of Santa María. Following the establishment of the Catamarca Province, it became the Departmental Section of Santa María, whose limits were eventually prescribed in 1895.
Atlas Catamarca

Ivan Sache, 13 September 2019

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The flag of Santa María is prescribed by Municipal Decree No. 5, approved in 2010 during the 22nd ordinary session of the Municipal Council. The flag of Santa María was selected in a public contest prescribed on 15 March 2010 by Ordinance No. 5 and held until 20 April 2010. The jury selected on 10 May 2010 three proposals out of the 355 submitted designs. The inhabitants of the department were invited to vote for their preferred design before 12 May 2010.

The designer of the winning proposal, Diego David Barrionuevo, explained that the flag, called "la Chakana" shall have proportions derived from the Golden Number, that is 1:1.83. It is based on the Andean Cross, alluding to the mystical meaning of number 4 ("tawa"), based on the proportionality of the two arms of the Southern Cross and the special partition in four components of the Andean cosmogony. In the center, where the Square Cross is inscribed, is placed a double circle, the symbol of universal knowledge, charged in the center with an urn of the Santa María culture, representing the climax of development of this culture.

The colors are the "three sacred colors of Santa María arts. Terracotta red is a symbol of the day, fire, light, heath and of the Upper World; gray black is a symbol of knowledge and of the Lower World; white is a symbol of cosmic and timeless energy. The fourth color, ocher yellow is a symbol of the soil, its energy and its dynamics."
CatamarcActual, 2 September 2010

On 2 February 2011, the inauguration of the flag and its blessing by Bishop Mariano Moreno, completed in 2005 by a long process initiated by Municipal Councillor Jorge Daniel Lagoria.
CatamarcActual, 8 February 2011

The two other proposals selected by the jury were:
- A multi-ray yellow sun over a blue sky and a brown valley;
- a nine-ray yellow sun over a horizontally divided brown-blue-brown background.
Diario C, 10 May 2010

Ivan Sache, 13 September 2019