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Casta Paintings


Casta is an Iberian word (existing in Spanish, Portuguese and other Iberian languages since the Middle Ages), meaning lineage, breed, or race, to describe as a whole, the mixed-race people which appeared in the post-Conquest period. The social composition of Mexico during the eighteenth century was based on the existence of various castas or castes.

It has been said that White people can't help but to lie about Black people, it's as if they had a genetic pre-disposition to do so. Others say their lies represent their hopes, still others say it's just a deep seated need to bolster themselves by denigrating Blacks, others say it's just normal White degeneracy. Whatever the reason, even on so innocuous a subject as an art genre, Whites still manage to find a reason to lie about Blacks:

Castas (Wiki)

During the Spanish colonial period, Spaniards developed a complex caste system based on race, which was used for social control and which also determined a person's importance in society. There were four main categories of race: (1) Peninsular, a Spaniard born in Spain; (2) Criollo (feminine, criolla), a person of Spanish descent born in the New World; (3) Indio (fem. india), a person who is descendent of the original inhabitants of the Americas; and (4) Negro (fem. negra) - a person of black African descent, usually a slave or their free descendants.

Ilona Katzew (New York University)

Since the sixteenth century, Spaniards had transposed their own social schema onto their colonies in the New World. The subordination of State to Church and the ideology of limpieza de sangre (purity of blood)--where the absence of Jewish or Muslim blood defined an honorable Old Christian--were factors contributing to Spain's hierarchically organized society, whose members had clearly delineated social roles. When the Spanish colonized the New World, they brought with them this division of society into nobles and plebeians. By converting the Indians to the Christian faith, an imperative that gave justification to the colonial enterprise, Spaniards became the aristocracy of Mexico regardless of their origins or occupations.

The supremacy of Spaniards (or whites) was remarked at the end of the colonial period by Alexander von Humboldt (1769 - 1859), a German natural scientist who traveled in the New World: "any white person, although he rides his horse barefoot, imagines himself to be of the nobility of the country.  Indians, who, with the exception of their own nobility, were associated with agriculture, became the tribute-paying plebeians. Nevertheless, the Spanish system admitted the existence of an Indian Republic within the colony, which meant that the Spaniards recognized the existence of an internal hierarchy for Indian society.

Because Indians were destined collectively to become "New Christians," they merited the protection of the Spanish Crown. Blacks, on the other hand, were brought to the New World as slaves and were in theory situated at the lowest echelons of society; they worked as domestic servants for the Spaniards and as laborers on the sugar plantations, mines, and estates. Blacks were considered a homogeneous group with no rights and were redeemable only on an individual level, once they had proven their loyalty to the Church and their masters.

In both cases above, the author is clearly saying that ALL Blacks in the Americas were brought there as Slaves, and that Blacks were the lowest class. The truth is that the great majority of Blacks in the Americas were indigenous people: Many Black Spanish and Portuguese citizens came to the Americas, and as the paintings below clearly indicate, Blacks were among the wealthy elite. See the South Americas-2 page.

























































Click here for a Blow-up of this collage, along with an explanation of terms.











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