Here I bring the story of one of the most recognizable pieces in Hispanic America that many of our women wear. I am talking about El Mantón de Manila that came from the Philippines at the end of the XVI century to Europe and specifically Spain.
It all started when the big comercial goods from Manila started to arrive in Sevilla through the Mexican port of Acapulco. They made their way by land from Veracruz where the mantones reached the Atlantic coast to end up in Seville.
It wasn’t until the XVIII century that through El Cabo de La Buena Esperanza, Seville and Manila start their direct commerce. Interestingly enough El Mantón de Manila also arrived in the U.S., at the time reaching cities like Boston, Philadelphia and entering the state of California.
Initially, El Mantón had colorful designs depicting flowers and birds typical of the Philippines, and as the time passed it started to undergo a transformation in design that incorporated forms, sizes and imagery more typical of Spain like the red flowers and objects related to bull fights.
The most famous and important families started using the Manila shawl and by the XIX century it soon became an accessory for almost every woman without regard to their economic condition. A perfect example were the Sevillanas who sold cigarrets and the ladies who labored at the tobacco companies.
The shawl has always been a big hit in Seville and the Andalucia region in general because the Andalusians adore colorful and organic designs like roses and carnations so popular in the area.
The shawls came from the Philippines but were made in China even though they derived their name from the city of Manila.
Visiting the Málaga Fair I was able to shoot the video that explains what El Mantón de Manila is. María, the woman who was wearing it was not the only one on the streets adorning herself with such an exquisite piece. Seeing so many women wearing it, I had to stop one of them and ask the history behind it.
I don’t know if my mom had a Mantón de Manila however, I know she had three shawls that resembled the Manila shawls and the only difference was in the designs which were more subtle and less colorful. I am sure many of us Latinas may remember our moms or grandmas wearing mantillas similar to the Mantón de Manila.
Let me know below if you grew up with a Mantón de Manila at home and if you knew its origins.