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Racial Distinctions in Mexico Catholic Church Parish Registers

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Before Mexico’s independence, most church records included references to the racial distinction. However, at the time of independence, with the Plan of Iguala in 1821, it was declared that all persons were equal citizens of the country; hence, no distinction should be made among the people. The church gradually diminished the use of race distinctions from that time on.

When racial distinctions were made, they may have been determined by the individuals present or arbitrarily by the priest. It is difficult to determine with any accuracy if the racial distinctions were correct.

Terms Used

Several terms were used to describe racial distinctions. These terms are listed here in alphabetical order. Each term represents the percentage of Spanish, Indian, or African blood in each person (e.g. Mulatto= mixture of a Spanish and a African person)

  • Albarazado = Cambujo and Mulatto
  • Albino/Ochavado = Spanish and African
  • Allí te estás = Chamizo and Mestiza
  • Barcino = Albarazado and Mutlata
  • Barnocino = Albarazado and Mestiza
  • Calpamulato = Zambaigo and Loba
  • Cambujo = Zambaigo and Indian
  • Cambur = African, Spanish, and Indian
  • Cambuto/a = Spanish and African
  • Castizo = Spanish and Mestizo
  • Chamizo = Coyote and Indian
  • Chino or Albino = Spanish and Morisca
  • Cimarrón = African, Spanish, and Indian
  • Coyote = African, Spanish, and Indian
  • Jíbaro/Jabaro = Lobo and China /Spanish, Indian, and African
  • Lobo = Indian, African and Salta atrás
  • Mestizo = Spanish and Indian
  • Morisco or Cuarterón = Spanish and Mulatto
  • Mulato = Spanish and African
  • Negro fino = African and Spanish
  • No te entiendo = Tente en el aire and Mulatta
  • Nometoques = Parts of many, including African
  • Pardo = Spanish, Indian, and African
  • Prieto = African and Spanish
  • Salta atrás/Tornatras = Spanish, African, and Albina
  • Sambahigo = Cambujo and Indian or Spanish and African
  • Spanish = Castiza and Spanish
  • Tente en el aire = Calpamulatto and Cambuja
  • Torna atrás = No te entiendo and Indian
  • Tresalvo = Spanish and African
  • Zambaigo = Lobo and Indian
  • Zambo = Indian and African


Race in Mexico - This article is mainly about racial terms in Mexican records, particularly Catholic church sacramental records, such as christenings & marriages.