Chinese Shawl from Manila, ca. 1900
Manila shawl in raw silk taffeta with multi-coloured embroidery floss applied in the Kensington stitch, with shading and texturing. The decorative pattern comprises two frames and a central panel that has a checkerboard spattering of Chinese flowers and 6 couples of large-sized figures wearing dragon costumes. Considerable macramé fringe.
In 2004 it was mounted on the underskirt MT-003823. The outfit was presented as the Fraga bridal gown.
The Manila shawls take their name from the Philippine capital, where they made their first stop on the journey from China to Spain. They had been produced in Canton (now Guangzhou) and other Chinese towns, to be exported through a merchant council or Cohong, whose thirteen members were the only ones authorized to trade with the barbaric foreigners. Although the tradition of embroidering Chinese silk is almost as old as the silk itself, and from as far back as the 16th century the renowned Manila galleon was transporting Chinese fabrics to Spain, all the shawls that have survived to our days were produced from the early 19th century on, which is probably when the model was developed. The fringes, that were added in the Iberian Peninsula, were a legacy of the Moorish tastes and crafts. The highest quality shawls were packaged in Chinese lacquered boxes so beautiful that some were later converted into tables. In addition to the Manila shawls, the boats also brought multiple other Oriental merchandise, including tea, paints, fans or porcelain.