The title of this novel in the original, La maja desnuda, "The Nude Maja". is also the name of one of the most famous pictures of the great Spanish painter Francisco Goya.
The word “maja” has no exact equivalent in English or in any of the modern languages. Literally, it means "bedecked". "showy". "gaudily attired". "flashy". "dazzling". etc. , and it was applied at the end of the eighteenth century and at the beginning of the nineteenth to a certain class of gay women of the lower strata of Madrid society notorious for their love of dancing and their fondness for exhibiting themselves conspicuously at bull-fights and all popular celebrations. The great ladies of the aristocracy affected the free ways and imitated the picturesque dress of the maja; Goya made this type the central figure of many of his genre paintings, and the dramatist Ramón de la Cruz based most of his sainetes—farcical pieces in one act—upon the customs and rivalries of these women. The dress invented by the maja, consisting of a short skirt partly covered by a net with berry-shaped tassels, white mantilla and high shell-comb, is considered all over the world as the national costume of Spanish women.