Embroidered Elegance: The Manila Shawl

Lladró's 2024 Nude with Shawl. Metallic Sculpture exquisitely portrays the intricate embroidery of the manila shawl and breathes life into a shawl that exhibits the essence of Spanish history. This piece is the new variant of the classic Gres Nude with Shawl and Silver Lustre Re-deco Nude with Shawl.

The Manila shawl, also known as the ‘Mantón de Manila’, is a luxurious and intricately embroidered garment with a rich history dating back to the 16th century. Originating from China, these shawls were exported to Manila, the capital of the Philippines through the Spanish trading route, therefore acquiring the name ‘Manila shawl’. Produced from delicate silk, these shawls were highly sought after by European aristocrats and eventually became a symbol of status and elegance.

Manilla shawls feature intricate latticework and fringe detailing along the edges, adding texture and movement to the garment. The latticework, in particular, serves both a decorative and functional purpose, providing structural support while allowing the shawl to cascade and flow gracefully with the dancer's movements.

Most recognizable in the realm of flamenco dance, the Manila shawl plays a pivotal role, serving as both a prop and an expression of emotion. Flamenco dancers (bailaoras) skillfully manipulate the shawl, using its flowing movements to accentuate their movements. Additionally, the utilisation of shawls amplifies the intensity and expressiveness of their choreography. It becomes an extension of the dancer's body, enhancing the visual spectacle of the performance. For instance, when the shawl is draped over the shoulders, it provides the dancer with a regal appearance and establishes an unyielding, authoritative presence on the stage. Traditionally, the shawls must measure up to 145 cm in length, allowing ample fabric to create dramatic sweeps and flourishes during dance routines. In addition, the shawl must have the correct weight so as not to wrinkle during a dancer's performance. 

Lladró's Flamenco Soul Woman Figurine showcases the sheer elegance of the Manila shawl, showcasing an alluring floral pattern.  

In Spanish culture, the Manila shawl isn't the only item that the Spaniards adopted into the heart of their culture: flamenco. Similarly, the Spanish hand fans are also thought to have originated in China and Japan, but through their fervent dancing, Spaniards have given them a distinctively Spanish flair. These fans, although not native to Spain, have certainly made their presence known within the realm of flamenco dance. These additional props which the Spaniards adopted to utilise in flamenco dancing not only facilitate smooth storytelling but also provide a channel of communication between the dancers and the spectators. 

If you enjoyed this article, check out: 

Back to blog