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Lady Violette

The Romantic Lifestyle

Manton de Manila – a Magical Medieval Garden in a Hand Embroidered Silk Shawl with Pansies, Roses, Irises and Other European Flowers – c1845

April 13th, 2024 by violette

This unusual Manton de Manila has flowers I have not seen in other shawls : namely pansies in very realistic colors and what appear to be beds of miniature irises in many colorations surrounded by blue small forget-me-nots and both pink apple blossoms and white strawberry blossoms – all intertwined with vines and leaves. There are also blooming purple anemones and pink roses in the borderer. Then the enormous pinkish red hybrid peonies/ roses with tiny flower-like stamens in their centers. All in all quite fantastical!

These varieties of flowers were traditionally raised in Medieval European monastery gardens. When Spanish Catholic monks from Europe established churches in conquered new lands they brought seeds with them for the medicinal plants – the herbs and flowers – they raised in the European monastery gardens. One of the first things they did when they arrived in a new place to teach the word of
Christ was plant a garden in which to grow the medicinal plants and flowers they were used to.

This is one of the main ways in which unusual flowers made their way to different parts of the world.

It is likely that the Spanish established lush gardens in the Philippines. And, that those flowers were shown to the makers of embroidered shawls in Canton when Mexican, American and European Women requested embroidered shawls be made with bright colorful florals rather than Asian landscapes and reptilian designs.

When you look at many Manton’s de Manila you can see that the designs were often botanical hybrids combining elements of Asian and European flora and fauna to create unique and appealing fantasy gardens filled with imaginative flowers

Thus the giant Peony / Rose must have evolved. And sometimes grew to enormous proportions dominating the design of many of the shawls.

Roses like these pink ones above and the red ones below, both from my own garden, may well have inspired the pink roses in the outer border and the big red ones in the dominant center of the shawl

Owning a beautiful floral shawl is one way to preserve flowers and enjoy them in your life all year around.

This shawl has a 56 inche square double weight black silk center section and is surrounded by a 25″ fringe on all sides making the total size a 106″ square! The fringe consists of a 7″ wide hand done heavy and elaborate macrame lattice followed by an 18″ long fringe all the way around. High Drama! It was bought in San Francisco during the 1840s and displayed in the drawing room of a San Francisco mansion . It was occasionally worn as an evening wrap. Fortunately it was very well cared for so has survived in excellent condition. It is embroidered on both sides which makes it reversible. I have seen hundreds of these shawls and It is the only one I have ever seen including pansies in the embroidery design. Definitely a Manton de Manilla for pansy lovers. Of course the other flowers are beautiful too!

These are real pansies from my garden. They come in many colors and I have seen the real ones in peach and purple like the ones in this manton.

Rare and beautiful historic clothing and accessories are for sale in my online shops. If you see something on this blog that you are interested in buying, but do not find it for sale in my shops message me on Etsy or Ebay and I will get back to you about availability. I check messages daily and can always prepare a special listing for you if you do not find it already listed in the shops.

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