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São Carlos, São Paulo State (Brazil)

Last modified: 2013-02-02 by ian macdonald
Keywords: sao paulo | sao carlos | pine tree | ring (white) | disk (green) |
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São Carlos, SP (Brazil) image by Blas Delgado Ortiz and Ivan Sache, 19 January 2013

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About the Flag of São Carlos

The municipality of São Carlos (226,322 inhabitants in 2012; 113,730 ha) is located in center-eastern São Paulo State, close to the geographical center of the State, 230 km of São Paulo. The municipality is made of the town of São Carlos proper and of the districts of Santa Eudóxia and Água Vermelha. The town is known as the "National Capital of Technology", being the seat of several high-tech production units belonging to Volkswagen, Faber-Castell (with the biggest factory of the group in the world, manufacturing every year 1,5 million pencils), Electrolux, Tecumseh and Husqvarna. The boom of technology in the town was initiated by the establishment of the São Carlos Engineering College of the São Paulo University (1953) and of the São Carlos Federal University (UFSCar, 1970).

São Carlos was founded on 4 November 1857 on the Pinhal Estate, which had been established in 1831 by the Arruda Botelho family. The municipality of São Carlos was established in 1865; in 1874, the town counted 6,897 inhabitants, a population that increased to 16,104 in 1886. the boost of the town was favoured by the railway, whose station was inaugurated in 1884. From 1880 to 1904, São Carlos was a main pole of immigration in São Paulo State; most of the immigrants came form northern Italy to work in coffee plantations developed in the Pinhal Estate since 1840. There were so many Italian immigrants in São Carlos in the beginning of the 20th century that the Italian government appointed a Vice-Consul there. - Municipal website

The flag of São Carlos is prescribed by Municipal Law No. 4,319 of 23 September 1961. The flag is blue with a green disk, outlined in white, charged with a golden araucaria. The blue field recalls the field of the municipal coat of arms and the sphere on the national flag. The white ring recalls the field of the coat of arms of St. Charles, Archbishop of Milan* and the saint's halo, as well as the white bend on the national flag. The green disk recalls the field of the national flag and the supporters of the municipal coat of arms. The golden araucaria recall the five araucarias placed per saltire on the blue field of the municipal coat of arms. Blue is a symbol of justice, nobleness and virtue; white is a symbol of purity, truth and felicity; green is a symbol of friendship and hope; gold is a symbol of wealth, glory and power.

*St. Charles Borromeo (1538-1584), Cardinal Archbishop of Milan from 1564 to 1584, canonized on 1 November 1610 by Pope Paul V.

Photos of the flag 

The coat of arms of São Carlos is prescribed by Municipal Law No. 1,023 of 22 September 1948, as "A Portuguese, rounded-off shield surmounted by a mural crown representing a municipality. Azure five Brazilian pines (Araucaria brasiliensis) or per saltire. In chief five escutcheons, the central one bigger than the other ones, 1. Gules a pioneer's jacket or, 2. Azure a mount or terraced vert, from the coat of arms of Cuiabá, 3. Gules the bust of St. Charles Borromeo proper haloed or, 4. Or a fig tree vert over a finch ["bicudo"] sable, 5. Gules a tower argent a chief or four bends gules. The shield supported by two branches of coffee fructed proper in base six araucaria cones proper. Below the shield a scroll azure inscribed with the motto 'A BANDEIRANTIBUS VENIO" in letters or."

The effigy of St. Charles, the town's patron saint, and the araucarias, referring to the old name of the town, São Carlos do Pinhal, make the arms canting. The first two escutcheons recall the colonization of the place by pioneers. The fourth escutcheon shows the heraldic emblems of the Neto and Bicudo families, recalling two of the most famous inhabitants of the town, Pedro José Neto and Felipe de Campos Bicudo. The fifth escutcheon recalls two other famous inhabitants of the town, Carlos José Botelho* and Jesuíno José Soares de Arruda**, the founders of the town. The branches of coffee recall that the wealth of the town came from its coffee plantations. - Municipal website

*Colonel Antonio Carlos de Arruda Botelho (1827-1901), Grandee of the Empire, Baron, Viscount and Count of Pinhal, leader of the Liberal Party in São Paulo. The arms of the Count of Pinhal were "Or five bends gules". - Arruda Botelho family website

**Jesuíno José Soares de Arruda (1811-1895) married in 1836 Maria Gertrudes de Arruda and added his wife's famous family name to his own. His arms were "Gules a tower argent".

Marcelino Silva gives more details on the coat of arms, pointing out different inconsistencies in its design. The coat of arms was originally adopted by the Municipal Council in 1933. It was designed by Afonso d’Escragnolle Taunay***, with the help of the journalist and heraldist J. Walsh Rodrigues. Silva considers the arms as inconsistent since its bears five araucarias ("pinheiros"), while the name of the town was shortened from São Carlos do Pinhal to São Carlos by State Law No. 1,158 of 26 December 1908, 25 years before the adoption of the arms. He also claims that Felipe de Campos Bicudo, represented by one of the escutcheons, never lived in the area.

***Afonso d'Escragnolle Taunay (1876-1958) was a genealogist, lexicographer and historian, noted for his studies on the São Paulo pioneers ("História geral das bandeiras paulistas", 11 volumes, 1924-1950) and coffee cultivation in Brazil ("História do café no Brasil", 11 volumes, 1929-1941). He was elected in 1929 at the Brazilian Academy of Letters. - Marcelino Silva's blog
Ivan Sache
, 19 January 2013

There seems to be something wrong in paradise in São Carlos. A harsh controversy has emerged about the identity of the true founder of the town (two of them are named in the explanation of the coat of arms, which seem to be unsatisfactory for some local experts) - as far as I have read, the controversy has a political background. I assume that the controversy on the name and coat of arms could be rooted in political struggle, too.

I speculate that the changes in the names - and sometimes in the symbols - of the municipalities reflect political changes, probably at the State or even national level. As far as São Paulo State is concerned, the places were first named for the patron saint of the local chapel. The usually very long names were subsequently shortened, keeping only the name of the saint, of a river, of a mountain... Further on, several names were changed for new names based on Tupi-Guarani words, sometimes with the same meaning, sometimes not. During Vargas' Estado Novo, it was decreed that every place in Brazil should have a specific name, not shared with any other place in the country, which caused several new alterations - this seems to have been relaxed later on. And, of course, some places have another, colloquial name used by the inhabitants... not to mention the nicknames ("Town of this", "Paradise of that"), which seem to be of local significance and are often prescribed by laws.
Ivan Sache, 20 January 2013