Portraits of Surinamese girls, anonymous, c. 1805
These girls were most likely the daughters of a white man and a native woman. Cohabitation between white men and black domestic slaves was a frequent occurrence in Suriname. Their children were called ‘mulattos’ (mixed race). There were specific appellations for every shade of skin colour, and people were labelled as mulattos, mestizos, castizos, and poesties. In Surinamese society, a lighter skin colour conferred a higher status.