According to the poet Joaquim de Souza Andrade, 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.
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.
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.