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Union of a Spaniard (right), a Mestiza (middle), Castiza (child). By Miguel Cabrera. (1763)
Union of a Spaniard (right), a Mestiza (middle), Castiza (child). By Miguel Cabrera. (1763)

Castizo (Spanish: [kasˈtiθo] (fem. Castiza) or [kasˈtiso]) is a Spanish word with a general meaning of "pure", "genuine" or representative of its race (from the Spanish: "casta"). The feminine form is castiza. From this meaning it evolved into other meanings, such as "typical of an area"[1] and it was also used for one of the colonial Spanish mixed-race categories, the castas. The category Castizo/a was widely recognized in by the eighteenth century in colonial Mexico [2] and a standard category in eighteenth-century casta paintings. In the taxonomic chart accompanying a work on casta paintings, castizo is given as "uncertain origin" and appears in 1543 with the meaning "class, condition, social position" (calidad, clase o condición).[3]

Development of racial categories

Union: Spanish man (left) and a Castiza women (center): Spanish (children). (Painted in 1799)
Union: Spanish man (left) and a Castiza women (center): Spanish (children). (Painted in 1799)

In colonial Spanish America, racial labels developed for racial mixtures of white Spaniards (Españoles), Amerindians (Indios), and Africans (Negros), some of which were official designations in documentation such as parish records, censuses, and Inquisition trials. Castizo was one such term, which applied to the offspring resulting from the union of a Spaniard and a Mestiza (offspring of a Spaniard and an Indian woman); that is, someone of three-quarters European and one-quarter Amerindian ancestry. During this era, various other terms (mestizo, cuarterón de indio, etc.) were also used. The word cuarterón usually denotes someone whose racial origin is three-quarters White and one-quarter Black, but sometimes it refers to a castizo, especially in Caribbean South America.[4] Most scholars do not view the racial labels and hierarchical ordering a rigid or official "system of castes,"[5] since there was considerable fluidity in the designations, with individuals being labeled or labeling themselves with different categories at different points in their life. Sometimes different labels were used simultaneously in the same documentation. Castizo was a category used in colonial Mexico. For American-born Spaniards (Criollos), and Castizos, light-skinned Moriscas were known to desirable marriage partners, since licenses to marry required a declaration of racial status. The category castizo "was widely recognized by the eighteenth century, castizos still did not appear in great numbers [in parish documentation] even though they were widely distributed throughout New Spain." It was also used in colonial era Guatemala.[6] In colonial censuses, officials sought to keep track of certain categories, particularly where a person could claim to be a Spaniard. "In the [colonial Mexican] censuses of white/mestizo households, provisions were made to keep accurate records of castizos. The flexibility of having three categories (mestizo, castizo, and español) provided census takers a broader framework within which to capture differences of phenotype -- presumably in hopes of closely regulating entry into the coveted español caste." Some were classified as castizos rather than españoles, but "their castizo status allowed them to maintain social elevation with the broader mestizo mainstream."[7]

An eighteenth-century visitor to colonial Mexico published the following observation about race mixture between españnoles and indias. "If the mixed-blood is the offspring of a Spaniard and an Indian, the stigma [of race mixture] disappears at the third step in descent because it is held as systematic that a Spaniard and an Indian produce a mestizo; a mestizo and a Spaniard, a castizo; and a castizo and a Spaniard, a Spaniard. The admixture of Indian blood should not indeed be regarded as a blemish, since the provisions of law give the Indian all that he could wish for, and Philip II granted to mestizos the privilege of becoming priests. On this consideration is based the common estimation of descent from a union of Indian and European or creole Spaniard."[8]

With the end of the Spanish Empire, the numerous casta terminologies fell out of use or were abolished entirely, as in post-independence Mexico. and lost all meaning, other than the categories of White, Black, Amerindian, and their three possible resulting combinations: mestizo, mulato and zambo (the latter three, now without blood quantum connotations), as these legal categories were seen as incompatible with the new concept of citizenship.

By the second part of the 19th century, most Hispanic countries had abolished even these surviving categories of distinction among their citizens, and so the racial heritage of a person was no longer compiled by the state as part of the individual's civil record, whether to legally hinder or privilege him in matters of civil life. Some countries, however, have recently reintroduced voluntary and anonymous declarations of race (or race mixture) in recent population censuses for statistical purposes, with no legal consequence to the individual.

A person who formerly would have been deemed a castizo would today simply identify as mestizo or White. The word "castizo" itself has lost all racial meaning.

Location within Latin America

Castizos were located in the Spanish territories in America and some Portuguese parts (Brazil ), they were in regions where arrivals and European settlements with small indigenous communities, so that the mestizos of these areas would be mixed with Europeans resulting in a large population with mostly Caucasian traits.

Today they are scattered in almost all Latin America but many focus on specific countries or regions of the same .

  • Argentina and Uruguay: The large majority of Argentinians and Uruguayans are castizos.Template:Is the term used for them? Initially colonial Argentina and Uruguay had a predominately mestizo population like the rest of the Spanish colonies, but due to a flood of European migration in the 19th century, and the repeated intermarriage with white Europeans the mestizo population became a so-called castizo population. With more Europeans arriving in the early 20th century, the face of Argentina and Uruguay has overwhelmingly become white and European in culture and tradition.[citation needed]
  • Brazil: Castizo population in Brazil was mainly in the center of the country because of the great cultural diversity that occurred in that area that were whites, mestizos, African minorities and some indigenous groups mainly in places like Río de Janeiro, Espírito Santo, Minas Gerais, Goias and Brasilia.
  • Chile: It might be the second country after Costa Rica with the highest percentage of castizos of America. They are located mainly in the central valleys of the country, in cities such as Santiago, Valparaíso, Viña del Mar, Rancagua and Talca. They also constitute an important percentage in Northern and Southern Chile. In Chile whites and castizos together represent the country's largest ethnic group.
  • Costa Rica: It is the country with the highest percentage of castizos of America due to continued European immigration and mixing with the mestizos. Castizos are located in almost all the national territory.
  • Mexico: Castizo population in Mexico is located mainly in north and west of the country. These areas have a similar castizo and white population to Costa Rica or Chile. There are important numbers of Castizos in states like Veracruz, Zacatecas, and the Bajio region as well for European immigration grew during the 19th and 20th centuries and in recent years after the economic recession of 2008. The western and northern parts of Mexico are mainly Castizo and European descendants today.
  • Paraguay: The population of Paraguay will be considered mainly castizo due to the various Europeans who came to repopulate the country after the War of the Triple Alliance that caused the partial loss of the original mestizo and indigenous population, which resulted that the immigrant population arrival after the war the country mixed with the mestizos and resulting in a large castizo population.
  • Peru: Peruvian castizos are concentrated in the departments of Lima, Cajamarca, Arequipa, La Libertad, Lambayeque and Piura, especially in major urban centers. A geographic area where this population is in a high percentage with respect to the local population, is the northern highlands, including the Ceja de Selva adjacent and the highlands of the departments of the north coast.
  • Guatemala: Most Guatemalan castizos inhabit the eastern region of the country such as the departments of Zacapa, Chiquimula, and Jalapa.

In Madrid

Castizo is used in Madrid for costumes, music, speech typical of the Madrid populace about the end of the 19th century. A person dressed in Castizo fashion can be called manolo/manola and chulapo/chulapa. Many zarzuelas are set in a Castizo environment, like La verbena de la Paloma.

Items associated with Castizo culture are the street swivel piano, barquillos, Schottisch music (spelled as chotis) and Manila shawls.

Casticismo in the Spanish language

Casticismo is a tendency among Spanish and Latin American intellectuals to reject foreign loanwords and stick to traditional Spanish roots. An example is deporte, a word recovered from Medieval Castilian meaning pastime, that successfully replaced the Anglicism sport, which has the same Latin origin as the Spanish word. It's closely related to costumbrismo in literature.

See also


  1. ^ "Castizo," Diccionario de la Real Academia.
  2. ^ Vinson, Ben III. Before Mestizaje: The Frontiers of Race and Caste in Colonial Mexico. New York: Cambridge University Press 2018, p. 134.
  3. ^ García Sáiz, María Concepción. Las Castas Mexicanas: Un Género Pictórico Americano. Milan: Olivetti 1989, pp. 24-25.
  4. ^ "Consulta posible gracias al compromiso con la cultura de la". Retrieved 23 April 2018.
  5. ^ Giraudo, Laura (Jun 14, 2018). "Casta(s), "sociedad de castas" e indigenismo: la interpretación del pasado colonial en el siglo XX". Nuevo Mundo Mundos Nuevos. Nouveaux mondes mondes nouveaux - Novo Mundo Mundos Novos - New world New worlds. doi:10.4000/nuevomundo.72080. Retrieved Sep 3, 2019 – via
  6. ^ Vinson, Ben III. Before Mestizaje: The Frontiers of Race and Caste in Colonial Mexico. New York: Cambridge University Press 2018, pp. 134, 45.
  7. ^ Vinson, Before Mestizaje, p. 120.
  8. ^ Don Pedro Alonso O’Crouley, A Description of the Kingdom of New Spain (1774), trans. and ed. Sean Galvin. San Francisco: John Howell Books 1972, p. 20
This page was last edited on 3 September 2019, at 19:35
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