Pardo is a word used in the Spanish colonies in America that refers to the descendants of Europeans and Amerindians who mixed with black people that formed persons who were not mestizo nor mulatto. From the 18th century it was used more to identify a skin colour that was not fair at all. The physical characteristics of brown skin ranging from dark brown to almost white skin. The hair could be curly, straight or other texture, and any colour.
In the Portuguese America, now Brazil, during the colonial period, this word was used indistinctly to designate African/European mixes, Native American/European mixes and Native American/European/African mixes and even Native Americans themselves. A reading of colonial testaments also shows it. Diogo de Vasconcelos, a widely known historian from Minas Gerais, mentions, for example, the story of Andresa de Castilhos. According to the information from the 18th century, Andresa de Castilhos was thus described: "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". The historian Maria Leônia Chaves de Resende also explains that the word pardo was employed to name people with native ancestry or even native Americans themselves: 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 names 'freed pardo'; a Damaso called himself 'freed pardo' of the 'native of the land'; etc. According to Maria Leônia 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'".
The American historian Muriel Nazzari specifically pointed out the "pardo" category absorbed those of Native American descent in 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"
Pardoes in Hispanic America
Most pardoes in the Spanish Empire inhabited the lands where the Spanish imported slaves during colonial times, like the Captaincies of Cuba, Santo Domingo, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela, the Viceroyalty of the River Plate and the Caribbean coast of the Viceroyalty of New Granada.
Pardoes in Brazil
In Brazil, Pardo is a race/skin color category used by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) in Brazilian censuses, with roots in the colonial period. 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 was and is still popular in Brazil. According to IBGE (Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics), 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".
- Diogo de Vasconcelos, History of Minas Gerais, volume 1, testament of the Colonel Salvador Furtado Fernandes de Mendonça, from about 1725)
- Gentios Brasílicos: Índios Coloniais em Minas Gerais Setecentista. Tese de Doutorado em História, IFCH-Unicamp, 2003, 401p; http://www.bibliotecadigital.unicamp.br/document/?code=vtls000295347
- MAGNOLI, Demétrio. Uma Gota de Sangue, Editora Contexto 2008 (2008)