The manton de Manila is very popular with the women of Andalucia and is used by flamenco dancers to add drama and enhance their movements. To use the Manton well takes an immense amount of strength and is a feat of great mastery.
Although the manton takes its name from Manila after the Manila Galleon trade which started in 1565, the manton (silk shawl) actually originated in China.
The Manila Galleons were Spanish trading ships that sailed once or twice per year across the pacific ocean from Manila in the Philippines to Acapulco in Mexico. The trade started in 1565 and continued until 1815 stopping due to the Mexican war of independence. These ships brought silks, ivory, furniture, porcelain, lacquerware, and spices from Canton, China to Manila and the Chinese merchants were paid in Mexican silver coins. The merchandise traveled from Acapulco to Veracruz where it was then was put on ships that traveled in convoy to Seville.
The silk shawl was one of the items that came from Canton to Spain and the women of Seville soon made the shawl their own asking that the embroidery be changed to suit their tastes and that long fringes be added to the silk square so that the fringe would move and call attention to the wearer.
Today many of the cheaper shawls found in Spain are polyester and are still made in China, the best are made from silk and are made in Seville.
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