Castizo (Spanish: [kasˈtiθo] 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 other meanings, such as "typical of an area"[1] and it was also used for one of the colonial Spanish race categories, the castas, that evolved in the 17th century. In Latin America Castizo is used to describe the individuals with an admixture of 75% European and 25% Native American.


Union of castizo (left) and mestiza (right): chamizo

Under the caste system of colonial Spanish America, the term originally applied to the offspring resulting from the union of a European and a mestizo; that is, someone of three quarters European and one quarter Amerindian ancestry. During this era, some other terms (mestizo, cuarterón de indio, etc.) were in use to denote other individuals of mixed European and Amerindian ancestry in ratios smaller or greater than that of castizos.

Under this same caste system, the offspring of a Spaniard and a Castiza was classified as a criollo (legally, a Spaniard born in the Americas), thus the offspring regained his or her purity of blood. (See the related concept of Limpieza de sangre.) For castizos whose residual quarter of Amerindian ancestry was not apparent at all, many simply consolidated themselves within the criollos and Peninsulares (Spaniards born in Spain).

With the fall of the Spanish Empire, the numerous caste terminologies fell out of use 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.

Furthermore, 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 .

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.
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