Variants of the term “Moor” have been used by Europeans since ancient times as a general description for indigenous Africans. Contrary to popular belief, the term is not synonymous with any specific African or Arab civilization, ethnicity or religion.
The artist, Christopher Wren (1632-1723), specifically entitled this painting, “Le Maure”, French for “The Moor”
The origin of the English term, “Moor” is the Greek word, “μαυρο” or “mavro” which literally means “black, blackened or charred” and has long been used to describe black or very dark things such as, “Mavri Thalassa” which refers to the Black Sea or “mavri spilia” which means “black cave.” Ancient Greeks used the term to describe the complexion of Africans and (even today, some Greeks use “mavro” to refer to Africans, although in a pejorative manner).
One need not be a linguist to see the word’s evolution from the Greek “mavro” to the Latin word…
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