Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Miscegenation by the Numbers: Casta Paintings

1763 Caste Painting Series by Miguel Cabrera
Casta Painting: Images of Race in Eighteenth-Century Mexico.

Casta Paintings
A genre of paintings that emerged in 18th-century Mexico, illustrating an orderly hierarchical society where socio-economic status depended on skin color. In the scenes, men and women from different races are shown with their offspring and ranked according to their place in the social structure. The paintings were very popular in Spain and other parts of Europe.

Colonial Latin America had an overt caste system whereby an individual's social identity as white, indigenous, African, or mixed was officially assigned in the baptismal register. In fact, the possibilities were many more than these four. Usage varied in different parts of colonial Latin America, and the system became more complex over time. "From Spanish and Indian, Mestizo." "From Spanish and Black, Mulatto." Such are the titles of paintings that were commissioned by colonial functionaries in the 1700s, often as souvenirs to be sent back to Spain, and frequently assembled in complete sets that were supposed to explore all the possible combinations. Caste paintings were partly reflections of colonial realities—that is, the fact that gene pools were merging—and partly an attempt to organize the imperial grip on those realities. Categorizing individuals in caste terms was important to colonial administration because different castes had different privileges and obligations. Some crosses were denigrated with animal names like Lobo (Wolf) and Coyote. One, Moorish, was a Spanish attempt to relate American realities to Spanish historical experience. While the number of sixteen theoretical caste categories is often represented, no more than four or five were commonly applied in practice.

Gentiles Indians (Heathen Indians)

Castizo and Mestizo woman, Chamiso

A term used during the Spanish colonial period to describe the child of a Spaniard and a mestizo (a person who was half Spanish and half indigenous). These categories were fundamental to Spanish colonial society where the percentage of 'pure,' or Spanish, blood ostensibly determined a person's rank within society.

Black and Indian woman, China Cambuja

Spaniard and Albino woman, Torna-atrás

Spaniard and Torna-atrás woman, Tente en el aire

Spaniard and Indian woman, Mestiza

Spaniard and Mestizo Woman, Castiza

From Lobo and Indian woman, Albarazado

From Indian and Barcino woman, Zambaiga

From Chino Cambujo and Indian woman, Lobo

From Spanish and Black, Mulatto De español y negra, mulata

Miguel Cabrera, 4. De español y negra, mulata, 1763. Private Collection. Katzew, Ilona. Casta Painting: Images of Race in Eighteenth-Century Mexico. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004, p. 102.

From Mestizo and Indian, Coyote De mestizo y de india, coyote

Miguel Cabrera, 15. De mestizo y de india, coyote, 1763. Collection Elisabeth Waldo-Dentzel, Multi Cultural Music and Art Foundation of Northridge, California. p. 105. Katzew, Ilona. Casta Painting: Images of Race in Eighteenth-Century Mexico. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004.

From Spanish and Mulatto, Moorish De español y mulata, morisca

Miguel Cabrera, 5. De español y mulata, morisca, 1763. Private Collection. Katzew, Ilona. Casta Painting: Images of Race in Eighteenth-Century Mexico.
New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004, p. 103

  • Albarazado = Cambujo and Mulatto
  • Albino/Ochavado = Spanish and African
  • Allí te estás = Chamizo and Mestiza
  • Barcino = Albarazado and Mutlata
  • Barnocino = Albarazado and Mestiza
  • Calpamulato = Zambaigo and Loba
  • Cambujo = Zambaigo and Indian
  • Cambur = African, Spanish, and Indian
  • Cambuto/a = Spanish and African
  • Castizo = Spanish and Mestizo
  • Chamizo = Coyote and Indian
  • Chino or Albino = Spanish and Morisca
  • Cimarrón = African, Spanish, and Indian
  • Coyote = African, Spanish, and Indian
  • Jíbaro/Jabaro = Lobo and China /Spanish, Indian, and African
  • Lobo = Indian, African and Salta atrás
  • Mestizo = Spanish and Indian
  • Morisco or Cuarterón = Spanish and Mulatto
  • Mulato = Spanish and African
  • Negro fino = African and Spanish
  • No te entiendo = Tente en el aire and Mulatta
  • Nometoques = Parts of many, including African
  • Pardo = Spanish, Indian, and African
  • Prieto = African and Spanish
  • Salta atrás/Tornatras = Spanish, African, and Albina
  • Sambahigo = Cambujo and Indian or Spanish and African
  • Spanish = Castiza and Spanish
  • Tente en el aire = Calpamulatto and Cambuja
  • Torna atrás = No te entiendo and Indian
  • Tresalvo = Spanish and African
  • Zambaigo = Lobo and Indian
  • Zambo = Indian and African

1 comment:


Click here to return to the US Slave Home Page