Mestiço man with gun and sword under a fruiting papaya tree, Albert Eckhout, mid-seventeenth century Dutch Brazil

Mestiço, in Colonial Brazil, was initially used to refer to mamelucos, persons born from a couple in which one was an Indigenous American and the other a European. It literally translates as "mameluke", probably referring to the common Iberian comparisons of swarthy people to North Africans (cf. moreno, "tawny, swarthy, tanned" but also "dark colored" or "dark-haired human", from mouro, "Moor").

The term mameluco fell in disuse in Brazil and was replaced by the much more familiar-sounding caboclo (formerly caboco, from Tupi ka'abok, "the ones coming from the wilderness") or cariboca/curiboca (from kari'boka, "what comes from the white man"; could also mean the child of a caboclo and a white person, equivalent to the Spanish castizo, or to the child of a caboclo and an Indigenous person, equivalent to the Spanish cholo), given the fact that most Brazilians, even those living in ubiquitously Christian villages and towns, spoke Tupi and the Tupi-derived línguas gerais until the 18th century, when they were banned by the Marquis of Pombal in 1777. A young Indigenous or caboclo boy would be a piá, from Tupi pyã, "heart", the way Indigenous mothers referred to their children. In modern-day Brazil (most particularly in the south), nevertheless, this word became general slang for any boy, regardless of race.

Even before the use of the Portuguese language in public became mandatory for Brazilians, nevertheless, other categories of mestiço appeared, with the introduction of African slavery by the Portuguese to Brazil and subsequent assimilation of them, whether enslaved, free or runaway, in both Portuguese settlements and Indigenous villages, as well as the Portuguese colonization of Africa and Asia.

A mulato (from muladi) was a person of simultaneous visible European and African descent.[1] A cafuzo, cafuso, cafuz, carafuz, carafuzo, cafúzio, cabo-verde, caburé or caboré (the last three from Tupi caá-poré, "forest dweller") was a person of Amerindian and African descent, with jíbaro being someone who was a quarter Amerindian and three quarters African, and a juçara would be a visibly tri-racial person of mixed African, European and Amerindian descent (from Tupi yi'sara, "palm tree", "thorny one(s)", possibly by comparison of their phenotype with açaí berries, produced by the juçara palm tree). Any person of mixed African descent could be referred to as cabrocha (lit. "young, small goat"; with cabra, "goat", being a common synonym of man in Brazilian Portuguese, particularly in the northeast), which initially referred to a young child of a black and a white person.

Pardo, the Portuguese word for a light brown color ("the color of a leopard", particularly in the context of complexion), evolved to mean any visibly mixed-race person that would not pass for any other race, to the exception of those of lighter complexion, who could be morenos (if dark-haired) or sararás (if light-haired, from Tupi sara-ra, "red-haired"; nevertheless, sarará evolved to mean only those of African descent more recently).

Mestiço community in Brazil

An image describing Brazil, at the end of the 19th century, by Nouveau Larousse illustré, in France: Indians, mestiços, examples of the fauna and flora of the country

In Brazil, the word mestiço was substituted for "pardo" in the 1890 census, alongside "caboclo" (brown),[2] but then returned to "pardo" in subsequent censuses.[3]

The term was and is used to describe individuals born from any mixture of different ethnicities. Mainly these individuals usually have a blend in African, Native American, and European Caucasian. there are specific groups like - European/Portuguese and Native American parents are commonly known as caboclo or, more commonly in the past, mameluco. Individuals of European and African ancestry are described as mulato. Cafuzos (known as zambo in the English language) are the production of Native American and African ancestors. if someone has a mix of all three they are known as "pardo". Brazil celebrates The Mixed Race Day (Dia do Mestiço) (June 27 is an official date in States of Amazonas) to celebrate racial unity in the nation, Paraíba and Roraima. The Day of the Caboclo (Dia do Caboclo) occurs June 24.[4]

Mestiço community in Angola

The Mestiço are primarily of mixed European, native born indigenous Angolan and/or other indigenous African lineages. They tend to be Portuguese culturally and to have full Portuguese names.

Although they make up about 2% of the population, they are the socially elite, and racially privileged, group in the country. Historically, Mestiços formed social and cultural allegiances with Portuguese colonists, subsequently identifying with the Portuguese over and above their indigenous identities.[5] Despite their loyalty, the ethnic group faced economic and political adversity at hands of the white population during times of economic hardship for whites. These actions lead to ostracizing Mestiços from their inherited economic benefits which sparked the group to take a new sociopolitical direction. However, since the 400 year Portuguese presence in the country, the ethnic group has retained their position of entitlement which is highly evident in the political, economic and cultural hierarchy in present-day Angola. Their phenotype range is broad with a number of members possessing physical characteristics that are close to others within the indigenous black non-mixed population. Since the Mestiços are generally better educated than the rest of the indigenous black population, they exercise influence in government disproportionate to their numbers.

Mestiço communities in Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde

In Guinea-Bissau, 1% of the population is of mixed African Native and Portuguese descent.

In Cape Verde, 80% of population is of mestiço descent.[6][7]

Mestiço community of Mozambique

A minority of the population of Mozambique are of mixed Bantu and Portuguese heritage.

Mestiço community in São Tomé and Príncipe

Mestiços of São Tomé and Príncipe are descendants of Portuguese colonists and African slaves brought to Portuguese São Tomé and Príncipe islands during the early years of settlement from modern Benin, Gabon, the Republic of the Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Angola (these people also are known as filhos da terra or "children of the land").

Mestiço communities in Portuguese India and Portuguese Ceylon

In Portugal's colonies in India from the seventeenth century, the term "castiço" came to be applied used for Portuguese persons born in India without any racial mixing, while "mestiço" applied to anyone with any European ancestor, however remote.[8] The mestiço children of wealthy Portuguese men were often sent to Portugal to study. Sometimes they remained there and established families. Many Portuguese-born mestiços became prominent politicians, lawyers, writers or celebrities. Alfredo Nobre da Costa, who was briefly Prime Minister of Portugal in 1978, was of Goan descent on his father's side. Similarly, António Costa, the Prime Minister of Portugal since 26 November 2015, is 1/4 Goan through his father, Orlando da Costa. Television presenter Catarina Furtado is also part Indian. In Portuguese Ceylon (Sri Lanka), the names Mestiços (Portuguese for "Mixed People") or Casados ("Married") were applied to people of mixed Portuguese and Sri Lankan (Sinhalese and Tamil) descent, starting in the 16th century. The locals who converted to Christianity but did not have any European blood were called, "indiacatos".

See also


  1. ^ Cheryl Sterling African Roots, Brazilian Rites: Cultural and National Identity in Brazil'Mestiço' p. 226 note 22 "Jacque uses the term... instead of mulato"
  2. ^ Edward E. Telles Race in Another America: The Significance of Skin Color in Brazil 140083743X 2014 - "The 1890 census, like the previous census, used the color categories white, black, and caboclo, but the term mestiço was substituted for pardo. Thus, I combine mestiço and caboclo to form an equivalent brown category for 1890.
  3. ^ G. Reginald Daniel Machado de Assis: Multiracial Identity and the Brazilian ... 0271052465 2012 p.148 "The Dia do Mestiço occurs on June 27, three days after the Day of the Caboclo (Dia do Caboclo), the caboclos ... although the 1890 census used the term "mestiço", subsequent censuses replaced it with "pardo", reflecting a return to previous ..."
  4. ^ Anadelia A. Romo Brazil's Living Museum: Race, Reform, and Tradition in ... 2010 0807895946- Page 33 "THE ROLE OF THE ENVIRONMENT IN DEFINING RACE. In establishing the framework for the "problem" of racial mixing, Nina Rodriguex ... His broad definition of mestiçagem came in part from what he viewed as a long history of genetic intermingling and intermixing in Brazil's population. He believed that the crossing of races created a "truly mestiço, intermediate way of being" ..."
  5. ^ Jacopo Corrado The Creole Elite and the Rise of Angolan Protonationalism 1604975296 2008 "That is why, instead of a term which is quite shocking for delicate spirits, society tends to prefer more ethically correct words or expressions, such as mestiço, “African” or “coloured man”."
  6. ^ Fractionalization in Portuguese colonial territories in 1950, according to the Portuguese Yearbook, 1950, vol. II. Racial composition of total population (Page: 6)
  7. ^ Patricia Ferraz de Matos The Colours of the Empire: Racialized Representations 0857457632 2013 p.120 "If a White father did not recognize a Mestiço child as his own, the child would be treated as Black, a bastard who belonged neither to the world of White ... The term Mestiço designated an individual of mixed European and Asian descent."
  8. ^ Anjana Singh Fort Cochin in Kerala, 1750-1830 9004168168 2010 p.92 "In the seventeenth century, the term Castiço came to be applied to Portuguese people born in India without any infusion of Asian blood, and the term Mestiço to anyone who had a European ancestor, however remote."

External links

Other Languages