Though made in China, shawls like this were worn in the Philippines, Spain, and Mexico. Called mantones de Manila, these large silk shawls were associated with the port of Manila. For 250 years, the Manila galleon trade route brought objects (porcelain, silk, ivories, spices) from Asia to Acapulco in Mexico. Goods were transported overland to Veracruz and then shipped on to Spain. Missionaries, merchants, and officials as well as silver, livestock, and plants passed through Manila on the return.
These shawls became important elements of upper-class ladies’ apparel as well as female flamenco dancers’ costumes. Initially bearing depictions of flowers common in China, later shawls were embroidered to meet export markets’ demands, showing roses and other flowers more common in Spain and Mexico. The shawls not only influenced Philippine fashion and embroidery traditions but also were used in Philippine scarf dances. The photo shows the original owner of this shawl, Juanita Sudduth Hall, in Manila in 1927.