The Manila Mantón
The first Chinese who settled in Manila around the year 1575 brought from their country square tapestry and embroidered silk bedspreads of everyday use in the Chinese upper classes. These bed linen, shawls or mantones began to be imported at the end of the 18th century, and from there they spread to other Spanish colonies, such as Peru, Mexico and Guatemala, where, thanks to their showy and colourful forms, they were widely adopted and worn among women of all spheres of society as shawls.
From the late 16th century onwards, Eastern commerce began its upward flow from what was at that time a Spanish colony in the Philippines (in honor of King Philip II) into Europe. From the Port of Manila traders sailed to Seville via the Mexican port of Acapulco, where they discharged and by land reached as far as Veracruz (on the Atlantic coast); and again, from there they sailed to Seville. From the 18th century direct trade with the Philippines began, from Manila to Seville by the Cape of Good Hope. At that time, the shawls of Manila also reached North American cities like Boston, Philadelphia and California. In these trips, the mantón underwent constant transformations, as much in its form and dimensions, as in its floral and oriental drawings: these became bigger and designs became more colourful, accommodating the taste of Europeans.
In Spain the first to use the mantón were the rich families, but it quickly became an essential accessory for the average woman of the 19th century, as is the case of the Cigarreras Sevillanas, the workers of the Tobacco Factory of Seville, who used to embroider the pieces of silk where the bales of tobacco came wrapped in. The Andalusian taste for the baroque and colours led to the introduction of great roses and carnations as motifs in the drawings, eventually giving rise to the rebirth of a whole new shawl, which is why today this piece of adornment is widely associated with the region of Andalusia. Undoubtedly, Chinese and Andalusian cultures are those that have left more traces in the composition of the shawls of Manila, although by a paradox of destiny, their name is that of the beautiful Filipino city, where they have never really been made. Specific to Chinese design is the use of soft colours and an oriental symbology, while the Spanish highlights the drawings of the flora in bright and cheerful colours.
Las cigarreras en la fábrica,
Photo donated by Juan Bonell Bayo: Manola Ferré and her classmates in the Carmelite school of Ull de Cona (Tortosa) in 1928, wearing Manila shawls embroidered by themselves as a course work. This photo seems inspired by a painting of Julio Romero de Torres. I dedicate it to my friend Manolita.
When arriving in Spain, the mantón of Manila merged its traditional oriental motifs (dragons, frogs, birds and other Chinese symbols) with others more adapted to the European taste. To that first moment belong the shawls exhibiting Chinese figures, whose faces were carved on a thin ivory plate, which was glued to the silk; the use of these materials denotes their antiquity, which can be situated around 1860.
In Andalusia, floral motifs were the most appreciated. The shawls were filled with showy roses of various sizes and embroidered with strong colours; the meaning of the rose is linked to secrecy and in Christian symbology it refers to the Passion of Christ. Along with roses and daisies,
El baile, canvas by Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida
whose meaning is impatience, other flora became frequent in the drawings, such as the lily, which refers to purity, or the sunflower, which is a symbol of fidelity. The rosemary represents memory and is also linked to magical and divinatory properties. Other frequent floral motifs were, and still are, the pansy, the thistle and the lotus, the latter undoubtedly reminiscent of their Chinese origins.
This great variety of motifs and combinations were grouped into more or less similar designs, which ended up by being named according to their dominant motif: thus, we can find shawls with only roses of all sizes, peacocks, the chinitos, carnations, grapes... Some, due to their originality or special meaning, have remained at the margin of fashion: this is the case of shawls with vases or those worn by the tobacco workers. The first mix the traditional bamboo stems with baskets full of flowers of all kinds. As for the second, they receive the name of the female workers of the tobacco factory of Seville, the cigarreras, which added to their daily clothing the shawl embroidered almost exclusively with large roses and brightly coloured carnations.
This process of adaptation ended up by turning the Mantón de Manila into a piece specific to Andalusian handicraft, gradually transforming its uses and drawings until making it just another element of its tradition.
(translated from the article of Estrella López Mayoral)
"(Ayún) ...es el ingenio bordador de los pañuelos de Manila, el inventor del tipo de rameado más vistoso y elegante, el poeta fecundísimo de esos madrigales de crespón compuestos con flores y rimados con pájaros. A este ilustre chino deben las españolas el hermosísimo y característico chal que tanto favorece su belleza, el mantón de Manila, al mismo tiempo señoril y popular, pues lo han llevado en sus hombros la gran señora y la gitana. Envolverse en él es como vestirse con un cuadro. La industria moderna no inventará nada que iguale a la ingenua poesía del mantón, salpicado de flores, flexible, pegadizo y mate, con aquel fleco que tiene algo de los enredos del sueño y aquella brillantez de color que iluminaba las muchedumbres en los tiempos en que su uso era general. Esta prenda hermosa se va desterrando, y sólo el pueblo la conserva con admirable instinto. Lo saca de las arcas en las grandes épocas de la vida, en los bautizos y en las bodas, como se da al viento un himno de alegría en el cual hay una estrofa para la patria. El mantón sería una prenda vulgar si tuviera la ciencia del diseño; no lo es por conservar el carácter de las artes primitivas y populares; es como la leyenda, como los cuentos de la infancia, candoroso y rico de color, fácilmente comprensible y refractario a los cambios de la moda.
Benito Pérez Galdós, Fortunata y Jacinta (Primeira Parte. Capítulo II.2; pág. 127 e 128), ed. 1984.)"
The Pavlov Posad Shawls
The Pavlov Posad shawls are one of the greatest symbols of Russia.
For over 200 years the Pavlov Posad factory outside Moscow has been producing unique and highly artistic shawls and scarves. Throughout this time they have come to be regarded as an identifying element of the traditional Russian costume both in Russia and abroad, recognised as a distinct phenomenon of Russian culture.
Words cannot do justice to the beauty of Pavlov Posad shawls. One should really see them. They offer a striking kaleidoscope of colours, flowers gathered into wondrous bouquets, garlands or as if scattered across a meadow.
Every single shawl is a work of art, the result of the imagination of the artist, born in a flash of inspiration. Artist Yekaterina Regunova, once returning home from the factory, saw some rowan berries on a tree and decided to try and depict them on a shawl she was working on. The result was a veritable masterpiece, which received a grand-prix at the International exhibition in Brussels. Of course, in over 200 years the technology of conveying a pattern onto the shawl has changed, but the work of the artists themselves remains the same: just as before, they draw the design on Whatman paper with gouache and quill.
The traditional design of Pavlov Posad shawls and scarves is a pattern, flowers and plants. The diversity of flowers one can see on them is stunning: irises, daisies, dahlias, lilies, lily-of-the-valley, sunflowers, white dog-rose, wisteria, and many others. However, the traditional, so to say ‘signature’ design features the rose.
“It’s very difficult to do justice to the rose,” says the director of the Museum of the shawl of Pavlov Posad factory, Yelena Strokova. “The rose on the shawl is three-dimensional, making you want to touch it! This effect is achieved by three-ply. First a pink rose is depicted, then shades of red, and finally – claret."
Every young artist that arrives at the factory starts off by learning how to draw the rose. They say that it takes a lifetime to master it. It’s far from always that it comes out right. Generally speaking, it’s much easier to make a shawl with a pattern than a floral design. Of course, it takes practice to achieve professionalism. An artist who has been working at the factory for ten years is still looked upon as ‘young’ and aspiring. In over 200 years the factory has witnessed the birth of a one-of-a-kind Pavlov Posad school of shawl design, thanks to which the traditions have been preserved and the artists’ skill is constantly honed.
"Taking a Snow Town"
Vassili Sourikov, 1891
It isn’t only the art school of the factory that is unique – this applies to the entire production.
“You will not find another production where they would simultaneously produce the textiles and design the final product,” says the head of the advertisement and PR department of the factory Yevgeny Obukhov. “In our age of narrow specialization, it is a rare phenomenon. At our factory you can witness the entire technological process. For a new shawl to emerge you need no less than three months. First the artist makes a gouache drawing on Whatman paper. Then the shawl itself is woven. The thread is bleached out and the sketch is transferred to the shawl with laser. No more than 20 shawls and scarves with the same design are produced. They are made out of high quality fine-fleece wool and the light shawls and scarves are of genuine Chinese silk.
The production line of the Pavlov Posad factory is extensive and varied. It offers not only shawls and scarves of traditional design, but follows the fashions of the day to produce neck scarves, pashminas, even table cloths. Of course, the factory’s collection is regularly updated. The artists react swiftly to the new trends of fashion, all the while retaining the traditional national look.
(Source: The Voice of Russia)
Manufacturing process of the shawl
Over the centuries, the women of the Romani tribes that arrived in Romania, Russia and Central Europe started integrating the shawl as an indispensable piece of cloth to protect themselves from the cold and the sun. Little by little, what became a traditional accessory of their costumes began to be used in the dances of these Romani groups, as well.
Fiddler Sergey Erdenko and Raisa Dement at the Romen Theatre. Archive photo S.Erdenko.
Scenes from the movie
«Tabor ukhodit v nebo», by Emil Loteanu