An installment of the five part series “Enlaces” exploring the Spanish, Indigenous, Arabic, and African influences in the music and dance of the Americas, on February 20 at La Pena Cultural Cultural Center in Berkeley, “Manton de Manila” showcased the beautiful embroidered silk shawls introduced across the globe by the Spanish.
María de la Rosa & Rudy Figueroa – Mexican Dance
Parangal Dance Company – Philippine Folk Dance
Theresa Calpotura-Classical Guitar
Asociación Cultural Kanchis – Peruvian Dance
De Rompe y Raja – Afro-Peruvian Cultural Association
Javier Trujillo – Peruvian Guitar
Virginia Iglesias – Flamenco Dance
Jorge Liceaga – Spanish Guitar
Edwin Lozada – Poetry
Paul Flores – Narrator
Exhibition of Mantones de Manila – Courtesy of Edwin Lozada (Carayan Press)
Curated by Edwin Lozada, editor of Field of Mirrors and member of PAWA Inc., Lozada owns an impressive collection of mantones de manila that span from 1820 to present time, gathered from all over the world. The show traced the history of these embroidered shawls back to Canton, China, purchased by the Spanish in Manila, which starting from 1571 through 1811 served as an integral port to the Galleon Trade. The popularity of these shawls spread to Mexico, Peru, and Spain, just to name a few countries. Weaving song and dance while chronicling the shawl’s diaspora, we start first in Veracruz, Mexico.
Unfortunately, no videos or photographs were allowed by the audience, but to get a feel for the similar threads that run throughout these cultures across the globe, here are some samplings from other sources. The first performance was Mexico’s National Dance, the Jarabe Tapatio:
After the dance, the dancers told the story of La China Poblana who was neither from China or Puebla but may have been a Mughal Princess named Mirrha taken captive by the Spaniards and brought to Puebla where she was bought by a wealthy Dona and Don and christened Catarina de San Juan. She’d fashion the most beautiful embroidered skirts that glittered and shimmered, and wear them when she went to the market. The ladies of Puebla soon adopted her style, and the skirt spread across Mexico. For more on Mirrha’s history check out Stitches in Time.
Image from Yucatan Living
The evening’s performance then transported us to the port that made the embroidered shawl so famous. From Manila, “El Paseo”:
We also learned of Saint Martin de Porres (1579-1639) the Black Saint or La Santa Negra, the first saint of the Americas. Born illegitimately from a Spanish nobleman and a young, former black slave, he grew up poor but learned the medical arts at the age of ten and was already devoted to taking care of the sick. Porres later joined the Dominican Order and led a life committed to charity.
Image from Novena
In honor of the Saint of Peru, two dancers performed La Marinera:
The dancing ended with a rousing and riveting flamenco from Andalusia Spain:
And the rest of night belonged to the mantones themselves. Spanning from 1820 to 1940 (?), the later the shawl was made the more elaborate the embroidery and the longer the fringe, each one more beautiful than the next. From striking reds, gorgeous greens, vibrant blues and purple, the mantones de manila are marvelous creations made more unique and more lovely by the many different cultures that have stylized this shawl and called it their own. This show made me wonderfully proud to be a Chicapina.
Image from Museo Oriental, Valledolid
For more information check out “Truth about the manton de Manila” by Bea Zobel Jr. on TravelSmart.net and watch for Lozada’s much anticipated book on the history and influence of the manton de manila.
Enlaces (Connections That Bind Us) El Mantón de Manila presented by La Peña Cultural Center in collaboration with Gabriela Shiroma (CulturARTE), Carayan Press, PAWA, Inc., Community Music Center-San Francisco