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For Pardoes in Brazil, see Pardo Brazilian.

Pardo is a word used in the Spanish colonies in the Americas to refer to the tri-racial descendants of Europeans, Amerindians, and Africans. They are defined as neither exclusively mestizo (Amerindian-European descent) nor mulatto (African-European descent).[1] It is highly associated with the history of slavery and colonialism. From the 18th century, the term has been used more widely to identify a brown skin colour.[citation needed] But in general use, the physical characteristics may include brown skin ranging from dark brown to almost white .[citation needed] Similarly, the person's hair could be curly, straight or other texture, and any colour.[citation needed]


In Portuguese America (now Brazil) during the colonial period, colonists used this word to cover African/European mixes, Native American/European mixes and Native American/European/African mixes and sometimes people of exclusively Native American descent,[2] as shown in colonial documents. For example, Diogo de Vasconcelos, a widely known historian from Minas Gerais, mentions the story of Andresa de Castilhos. According to 18th-century accounts, Andresa de Castilhos was described by the following: "I declare that Andresa de Castilhos, pardo woman ... has been freed ... is a descendant of the natives of the land ... I declare that Andresa de Castilhos is the daughter of a white man and a native woman".[3]

The historian Maria Leônia Chaves de Resende says that the word pardo was used to classify people with partial or full Native American ancestry. A Manoel, natural son of Ana carijó, was baptised as 'pardo'; in Campanha several native Americans were classified as 'pardo'; the natives João Ferreira, Joana Rodriges and Andreza Pedrosa, for example, were described as 'freed pardo'; a Damaso identifies as a 'freed pardo' of the 'native of the land'; etc.[4] According to Chaves de Resende, the growth of the pardo population in Brazil includes the descendants of natives and not only those of African descent: "the growth of the 'pardo' segment had not only to do with the descendants of Africans, but also with the descendants of the natives, in particular the carijós and bastards, included in the condition of 'pardo'".[4]

The American historian Muriel Nazzari in 2001 noted that the "pardo" category has absorbed those persons of Native American descent in the records of São Paulo: "This paper seeks to demonstrate that, though many Indians and mestizos did migrate, those who remained in São Paulo came to be classified as pardos."[5]

Pardos in Hispanic America[edit]

Most pardos within Latin America historically inhabited the territories where the Spanish conquistadors imported slaves during colonial times, such as the Captaincies of Cuba, Santo Domingo, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela as well as the Caribbean coast of the Viceroyalty of New Granada.[6][7]

Pardos in Brazil[edit]

Main article: Pardo Brazilian

In Brazil, pardo is a race/skin color category used by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) in Brazilian censuses, with historic roots in the colonial period.[8] The term "pardo" is more commonly used to refer to mixed-race Brazilians, individuals with varied racial ancestries. The other categories are branco ("White"), preto ("Black"), amarelo ("yellow", meaning East Asians), and indígena ("indigene" or "indigenous person", meaning Amerindians).

The term is still popular in Brazil. According to IBGE (Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics),[8] pardo is a broad classification that encompasses Multiracial Brazilians such as mulatos and cafuzos, as well as assimilated Amerindians known as caboclos, mixed with Europeans or not. The term "pardo" was first used in a Brazilian census in 1872. The following census, in 1890, replaced the word pardo by mestiço (that of mixed origins). The censuses of 1900 and 1920 did not ask about race, arguing that "the answers largely hid the truth".[9]


  1. ^ "Los aztecas bajo el dominio espańol (1519-1810) - Charles Gibson - Google Books". Retrieved 2015-09-20. 
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ Diogo de Vasconcelos, History of Minas Gerais, volume 1, testament of the Colonel Salvador Furtado Fernandes de Mendonça, from about 1725)
  4. ^ a b Gentios Brasílicos: Índios Coloniais em Minas Gerais Setecentista. Tese de Doutorado em História, IFCH-Unicamp, 2003, 401p;
  5. ^ "Project MUSE - Vanishing Indians: The Social Construction of Race in Colonial Sao Paulo". doi:10.1353/tam.2001.0040. Retrieved 2015-09-20. 
  6. ^ "Africans and Native Americans: The Language of Race and the Evolution of Red ... - Jack D. Forbes - Google Books". Retrieved 2015-09-20. 
  7. ^ "Liberty and Equality in Caribbean Colombia, 1770-1835 - Aline Helg - Google Books". Retrieved 2015-09-20. 
  8. ^ a b
  9. ^ MAGNOLI, Demétrio. Uma Gota de Sangue, Editora Contexto 2008 (2008)