Torna atrás

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Torna atrás (Spanish pronunciation: [toɾnaˈtɾas]) or Tornatrás is a term once used in Spain and its former overseas colonies to describe a mixed race person (mestizo) that showed phenotypic characteristics of only one of the "original races",[1] that is, white, black, Amerindian or Asian. The term was also used to describe an individual whose parentage was half white and half "albino".[1]

Casta painting of a Spanish father, albino mother and torna atrás child. Juan Patricio Morlete Ruiz (Mexico, circa 1760)

Colonial Spanish America[edit]

Under the casta system of colonial Spanish America, the torna atrás (in English, similar in meaning to throwback, hark back to) could also make reference to the appearance of racial characteristics not present in the parents. Such as in the colored child of a white person and albino. The albino casta refers to the seemingly white offspring of a white and black-descended parent (afromestizo).


It was also used in the Philippines during the Spanish colonial era from the 16th to 19th century, to describe persons of mixed indigenous Malay (referred to as Indio), Chinese (referred to as Sangley), and Spanish ancestry (referred to as Filipino or Peninsular).

There are no official statistics on the number of people of Tornatrás ancestry around the world, although it is believed that most are to be found in South America and the Philippines.


Although Tornatrás was originally used to describe a descendant of mestizos, albinos and Europeans, in the Philippines they were commonly known as those born from a Spanish father ('Filipino' or 'peninsular') and a Malay-Chinese (mestiza de sangley) mother.

Most people of the Tornatrás caste in the Philippines used Spanish as their primary language and in many cases converted to the Catholic faith.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Definición de tornatrás". Real Academia Española. Retrieved 21 September 2016. 
Miscegenation in Spanish Philippines
Mestizo de Sangley
Indio (Malay)
Sangley (Chinese)
Tornatrás Filipino Mestizo Mestizo de Sangley