Carimbo or Carimba, the slave mark.

Today we talk about the carimbo, or brand with red-hot iron for the slaves in order to identify them as a slave, to set that they were legal merchandise (not smuggled or illegal), and to make easy to retrieve them in case they escaped. They were branded on the thigh, the back, or even the face. And they were branded exactly in the same way as the animals. Many of these slaves were Moorish, Africans, Turkish, and just a few were natives from the Canary Islands, and from America.

On January 13th, in the year 1532, the Crown banned to put the carimba on American natives’ face, because they were free, and could not to be slaves, except with royal permission, and they had to be branded in the presence of the Governor. The documental process and the requirements were so much and so difficult that anyone would be discouraged even to try.

These provisions were not to last or to be effective, but they talk about rather unknown facts, whereof we rarely talk, not even at school. But it is worth to imagine a Seville with a significant percentage of black population, many of them with the carimba in their faces, maybe with the SLAVE anagram, which was an S and a nail (“clavo” in Spanish), the first one in the picture. Even the carimbo was mainly used in the American colonies, and it was and very difficult to control it by the Government.

Another curious fact is that the branding irons were to be locked in the governor´s place, so the carimba was perfectly regulated by the authority, just as the registration plates today. And furthermore, the people who held the irons and had to use them for the branding could not earn money for it, or not much money, so to avoid making a business of this tasks, as happened before.

There was indigenous slavery until 1679 in the Spanish viceroyalties, and the carimbo would be completely forbidden a century later, with the Illustration.

If you are interested in the slaves in Seville, come to our tour the cultures of Seville.


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