February 3, 2023

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The 18th-Century clothing that reveals hidden truths

“In paintings, it is very obvious that indigenous taxpayers ended up discovered by blue-and-white striped tunics, and had a very considerable hairdo,” explains Granados. By adapting other varieties of costume that put them in yet another racial group, folks could prevent spending taxes. It was also a fantastic advantage not to be Spanish if the Inquisition was in town, as it would necessarily mean immunity from prosecution. “They were being ready to opt for when they required to be indigenous and when they didn’t. What permitted them that fluidity was their clothing,” states Granados.

Even though the Casta paintings usually seem to be to restrict their subjects to a placement that was challenged in fact, certain paintings also surface to problem the restrictions them selves. In De Lobo y Negra, Chino a bi-racial male is observed doing work as a tailor, a placement that would theoretically have been denied him in accordance to his race.

It is these complexities and contradictions – the veracity or not, of what they portray, and just as importantly what they don’t portray – that make the Casta paintings this sort of a uniquely important and fascinating historical source. And 1 that invites important, if frequently difficult, dialogue and debate currently.

“What the Casta paintings request us to do, and enable us to do, is think about how varieties of racial hierarchies, how kinds of racial discrimination, appear into play, what supports them, but also how sophisticated they are,” claims Deans-Smith “It is this really fluidity that you can sense in the Casta paintings that really highlights the absurdity of making racial hierarchies.”