16 Castes of New Spain

The caste system is an ancient term that Spain used during the administration of its possessions in America, where they would have classified people by race and ethnic cross to organize a stratified social system.

16 Castes of New Spain

Caste% Español% Indio% Negro
Mestizo (Spanish + India)50500
Castizo (Mestizo + Spanish)75250
Spanish (Castizo + Spanish)87.512.50
Mulato (Spanish + Black)50050
Morisco (Mulatto + Spanish)75025
Chinese (Moorish + Spanish)87.5012.5
Jump back (Chinese + India)43.75506.25
Wolf (Jump back + Mulatto)46.8752528.125
Gíbaro (Wolf + China)67.187512.520.3125
Albarazado (Gíbaro + Mulata)58.593756.2535.15625
Cambujo (Albarazado + Black)29.2968753.12567.578125
Zambaigo (Cambujo + India)14.648437551.562533.7890625
Calpamulato (Zambaigo + Loba)30.7617187538.2812533.7890625
Tente in the air (Calpamulato + Cambuja)30.02929687520.70312530.95703125
I don’t understand you (Tente in the air + Mulata)40.014648437510.351562549.6337890625
Turn back (I don’t understand you + India)20.0073242187555.1757812524.81689453125

Thus, a kind of hierarchical pyramid was organized that placed the Spaniards at the top and under them, the majority of the population made up of Indians or natives, blacks and castes, who were the descendants of sexual relations between the three great ethnic branches. previous.

What are the 16 Breeds?

This was the name of the classification of interracial mixtures in the colonial period, which were between whites, Indians and blacks, from which derived the attribution of duties and rights according to the degree of purity of the blood. Therefore in Hispanic America the concept of castes applied only to the descendants of interracial unions.

1. Mestizo , Spanish with Indian.

2. Castizo , mestizo with Spanish

3. Spanish , traditional with Spanish

4. Mulato , Spanish with blackberry (black)

5. Morisco,  mulatto with Spanish

6. Chinese,  Moorish with Spanish

7. Sata back , Chinese with India

8. Wolf , jump back with mulatto

9. Gíbaro or Jíbaro , wolf with china

10. Albarazado , gíbaro with mulatto

11. Cambujo , albarazado with black

12. Sambaigo , cambujo with india

13. Calpamulato , sambaigo con loba

14. Tente in the air , calpamulato with cambuja

15. I don’t understand you , tente in the air with a mulatto

16. Turn back , I don’t understand you with India

Caste System in the Spanish Colonies

The caste system of the colonies would derive from the idea of ​​cleanliness or purity of blood that existed in Spain before the arrival of Columbus in America, promoted by the Inquisition to impose Catholicism, distinguishing between old and new Christians, among whom they met the Moors and Jews. In America the empire had to deal with native peoples and black slaves brought from Africa, which would give rise to the racial categories of Indians and blacks.

The need for a legal definition of who should be considered new Christians led the inquisition to develop blood cleansing statutes.Colonial institutions, that is, town halls, schools, unions, universities, etc. They had statutes that limited people’s access to them according to the greater or lesser degree of cleanliness of their blood, with Spanish blood being the most dignified and black blood being the most despised. That is, the more the racial mixture increased in the person, their social status decreased. While people had mixed with Indian blood, they could redeem and cleanse their blood with successive mixtures, people who had mixed with black blood could never redeem themselves from the original impurity. The castes classified the people who had been born as a result of the crossing of the three races that Spain considered existing, indigenous, black and Spanish.

However, the caste system was never infallible, there was a massive mix in viceregal society and where it was stated that of the castes that no one would dare to distinguish them , or that their distinction would never end, in such a way the castes would have a meaning of its own in each place and different for the city or rural area.

Crumbling of the Caste System

The collapse of the caste system was produced by great social mobility , a product of the same miscegenation that had contributed to creating them. In this way a process of caste amalgamation took place, until concluding with the collapse of the caste system as a result of the war on the white aristocracy and later ending with the slavery of the black African or, finally, against the American Indian where it was it propelled an ethnic cleansing on them.

In relation to the local population, the crown began to promote marriages as a preference for social stability, but the situation began to arise that there were people who had 60 wives. Faced with these situations, the crown decreed that preference for special positions would be given to married Spaniards and later the same preferences for distributions of Indians. However, this changed in a relatively short time, and it was when the crown realized that such unions were having an effect contrary to what was intended , transforming into a policy of separation of races , which gave rise to a complicated system of classification.

hese new laws remained in force until the time of independence of America, those who wanted to join the ranks of the army to the service of Spain, should test their blood cleansing, similar requirements were required to enter higher education.

Even more demanding were the conditions to enter teaching, every priest had the right to teach . The laity, on the other hand, required a license from the Cabildo and the ecclesiastical authority , they had to comply with a number of requirements such as cleansing of blood . The consequences of disobeying such conditions could be very severe.

Colonial stratification system

The colonial stratification system classified the inhabitants into three races:

1- Spanish

2- Indigenous


The blood of the people in each group was clean , but if a man and a woman of different races had a child, his blood would be stained , a fact that would make him belong to a caste.

In turn, individuals with stained blood were classified into different types of castes defined according to the crosses that were attributed to their ancestors. The rights that were attributed to each person were strictly determined by their classification in such categories, being considered superior to the peninsular Spanish and in the lowest place to the slave brought from Africa.

Several historians have questioned the existence of this phenomenon, considering that it could be a modern invention that emerged in the 1940s , which would distort the lexicon of colonial culture, to result in the system that is exposed.

Many names were used for other more complex mixtures, there was not much consensus for their definitions and different lists can be found. But if it was agreed that the indigenous mixture, Spanish, would eventually produce a Spanish, if white blood was introduced in each generation.

Such whitening was not accepted for the black race . Chinese was sometimes defined as Moorish with Spanish, however it was also defined as the son of a backward and Indian woman, and the term China was also used to refer to the gaucho woman. This Chinese for his part gave birth to the wolf if he was paired with a mulatto.

The wolf and the other mulatto engendered the jíbaro, additionally those people who had an indigenous or African past and four or five generations mixed with whites were called cuarterone s, having a peculiar appearance, but being similar to a European.

The lack of immigration of European women caused whites to mix with indigenous or African people and try to resemble their race by whitewashing Indian or black women .

In some places, starting in 181 1, measures were taken against the colonial caste system, the indigenous tribute was abolished, in 1812 the importation of slaves was prohibited in 1913, all forms of personal use of the Indians were prohibited, freedom of the future children of a slave mother, the elimination of titles of nobility.

Finally, for the Constitution of 1853, the rights were established for all the inhabitants of the Nation, where it said that all inhabitants are equal before the law.

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